Date: Sat, 5 Mar 1994 12:24:57 CST


Subject: y'all singular attested in Louisiana

My interest in Louisiana has much more to do with French than English,

however, last week when I stopped in Covington for lunch on the way to

doing some recording in Cajun country, I finally stumbled over what would

seem to be a singular y'all user:

I stopped at the Pasta Kitchen for some raviolis (good, too).

I was alone. My "waitress"

(that's what she calls herself, though her training manual lists her position

as "server"), a young woman (late teens or early twenties) came over to my

table when it appeared I had finished and said, verbatim, "Y'all done now?"

At first it wasn't clear if this was a contraction of `Are you _all done_ now'

or a singular y'all. So I inquired to get a fix on her metalinguistic sense of

this. I will share with you the information that she divulged.

She grew up and lived in New Orleans until about 5 yrs. ago, and still

maintains contact with her friends there. It was 5 yrs. ago that she

moved to "this side of the Lake" (Ponchartrain). She uses singular y'all

frequently. Her friends point this out to her and tell her not to, "but they

do it, too." She thinks it's more prevelant "on the other side of the Lake."

It has nothing to do with being polite. She remembers once getting into an

argument with a friend: "I started saying y'all to her and another friend

sitting there said, `What're you yellin' at me for, I didn't do anything!'"

She is metalinguistically sensitive indicated by the fact that she has

consciously tried to eliminate her New Orleans accent (with only partial


If anyone is seriously pursuing the question of y'all singular, this might

be an indication of a good location for some field work.

Mike Picone

University of Alabama