Date: Sat, 5 Mar 1994 12:24:57 CST
From: Michael Picone MPICONE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UA1VM.BITNET
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.
University of Alabama