Monday, January 21, 2008

Y'all been using your second person plural pronouns correctly?

I was recently informed that I had been spelling a certain beloved colloquialism incorrectly. Apparently, yall is spelled "y'all" instead of "ya'll." As I am a native of the Lone Star State, I've been using this particular pronoun for my entire life. Thus, orthographical precision in this matter is obviously important to me.

What do you do when your entire dialectic tradition is called into question? Consult Wikipedia, of course.

The collective genius of the masses writes,

Y'all, sometimes misspelled as "Ya'll", "Yawl", or "Yaw", and archaically spelled "You-all", is a fused grammaticalization of the phrase "you all". It is used primarily as a plural second-person pronoun, and less often as a singular second-person pronoun. Commonly believed to have originated in the Southern United States, it is primarily associated with Southern American English, African American Vernacular English, and some dialects of the Western United States.[1]
Now, the question is, "Do we trust the Wiki?"

We could weigh this evidence, find it wanting, recognize that it is only one line of linguistic interpretation and then refuse to assimilate this rendering into our everyday usage. As you can see by my usage in this post, I've caved. My syntagmatic power bar was heavily depleted when I initially discovered this information. Alas.

However, there is still time to join the anti-apostrophe internet rebellion:
The evolution of y'all continues today. There appears to be an increasing tendency, especially on the Internet, to spell it without the apostrophe, yall, which if it becomes common usage would make it a standard pronoun.
I'm not sure if I'm ready for this type of commitment. What about Y'all?

In the meantime,

You can join me in becoming part of the burgeoning minuscule minority of people who use the word "y'all" in addition to knowing that it is a "fused grammaticalization."

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2006-17

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