Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 15:07:36 -0500


Subject: Re: 2 pl

Just to weigh in, I don't quite agree on a couple of points that have

been offered. First, use of "(you) guys" as an address form is

definitely not just an adolescent thing. I've used it gender-neutrally

all my life (I'm 35), since childhood in suburban Westchester (is that

a retronym?), and I know people older than me who do too. My older

sister-in-law, from Chicago/St.Louis/Northern NJ (in that order)

regularly uses it to address her two daughters. Feminists may mind its

increasing use as a so-called "generic masculine", but facts is facts:

it is being used, and not just by marginal groups (teens, men).

My guess is it will not replace "y'all", though, for as long

as Southerners want to be different from Northerners (certainly the

foreseeable future!). I became a "y'all" user after moving to Georgia

at age 15 (1974-82), but it's one of the single most salient dialect-

markers I can think of. For me, my Southern phonology was incompatible

with "you guys", just as my Northern accent sounds ridiculous with

"y'all". But maybe in medial places like Indiana, etc, it's different.

Finally, Larry clearly seems to be right but maybe it could be

phrased as: referential (3rd-person) "guys" = [+masculine], while any

use of "guys" as an address form (with or without "you") is at least

potentially neutral for me. At the same time, it can still be used as

an AF in clearly [+masc] contexts, eg in the context of an opposition

to a [+fem] term: "OK, guys on the right, women on the left. Now,

GUYS..." No confusion there, but as a first-mention perhaps it can

be ambiguous?

--peter patrick

PS. Interesting Q: if "you guys" as neutral is spreading in the NE, is

there any effect on the gender-neutrality of other 2pl forms it comes

into contact with (youse, you'uns/yinz, etc.)?