Date: Tue, 24 Jan 1995 00:19:00 -0500
From: "Peter L. Patrick" PPATRICK[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GUVAX.BITNET
Subject: Re: 2 pl
So what's the consensus? Is "y'all" psreading to the Midwest, as Bill
Cole says? or is that merely the ubiquitous "you-all"?
I never denied "y'all" might spread North-- lots of great
Southern things have, after all. I'm just skeptical about "you guys"
becoming so regionally unmarked that it would enter the Southern
vernacular. David Johns's data about "you guys" use by college faculty
of a certain age in Waycross actually tends to confirm this point, I
think-- they may be one of the only groups linguistically insecure
enough to avoid "y'all" consistently in front of other Southerners
(unless they mostly do it in front of Northern observers?). I'm not so
sure they're a good sample of "educated Southerners" in general, though,
or certainly for South Georgia vernacular speech. (Not that that was
My mother, like Natalie, also used both "y'all" (which she'd
trained herself out of after a decade in Manhattan, until we moved
back to her hometown of Athens GA in her 50s) and "you-all" regularly,
and I think Ron Rabin's Q is a great one. My feeling is that use of
"you-all" is a bit more formal, thus distancing, and more likely to be
used either to outsiders, social/educational superiors, or people whom
the speaker is irritated/suspicious of (or other negative affect). But
I wouldn't put them in that sentence frame:
"What do y'all/you-all want?"
since it's so bare as to border on rudeness, and thus sounds like no
place for "you-all" (and hardly even for "y'all" except with great
provocation!). Does anyone else buy this Brown & Gilman-type analysis?
What do you-all think? (address term of choice for a large audience
with considerable non-Southern membership!)