Date: Tue, 24 Jan 1995 00:19:00 -0500


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!)

--peter patrick