Date: Sun, 22 Oct 1995 21:20:12 EDT


Subject: Re: y'all are crazy

Natalie writes,

All y'all just seemed like overkill to me, since I think of y'all as

being plural already, that's all.

I very definitely think of "y'all" as always plural, in spite of the hints

of evidence to the contrary. But I use "all y'all" on occasion since

"all y'all" is different from "some of y'all" Sort of like "all of us"

or "we all." I don't think anybody would think of that as overkill just

because "we" is already plural.

As a non-native speaker of the relevant dialect(s), I'm not convinced about

the obligatory plurality of 'y'all', especially given some of the attested

instances we've been reading about; it seems as though we have a case of

language change in progress, at least for some of the dialect area. But

Natalie is surely right on y'all vs. all y'all: it's not just 'we all' that

can be cited here, but 'you all', which is perfectly good in my native dialect

with the meaning 'all of you': Are you all planning to go to Kim's [...or

just some of you]? What I would have thought didn't occur is "quantifier

floating" the 'all' over 'y'all', to yield 'y'all all'. But no doubt there

are speakers who say it all the time. Anyway, I prefer 'all y'all' for its

palindromic flavor.