Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 08:39:10 -0400


Subject: Re: y'all are crazy

I don't know about Lynne's South African usages. From what I have

heard around here, polite plural forms are in the first person. The

element of politeness is in the inclusion of self--which makes it

plural. Hence, "we" cannot say that y'all fits this pattern.

no, i'm referring to things like french _vous_, german _Sie_, and in

(at least some) bantu languages noun class2 (human, plural), instead

of NC1 (human, singular) as an honorific (refering to "father" as

"fathers", etc.). there are other e.g.s (was old english like

this?), that i can't recall off-hand.

larry horn's point, that at least the plural "you" cases (french,

german, etc.) seem to be negative politeness strategies, while y'all

is claimed to be used in solidarity building (positive politeness)

contexts, is, however, an important one. IF there is a plural

"y'all" (and i'm suspicious that the southerners doth protest too

much!) and IF it is a (positive) politeness marker, then this

certainly would be an interesting addition to the data base.