Y'all: Plural form

Posted by Bob on February 02, 2002

In Reply to: Y'all: Plural form posted by ESC on February 02, 2002

: : I always thought y'all (meaning you all) was plural. However, during a trip down to South Carolina to purchase a sailplane several years ago, I heard a resident address a group of people as "All y'all". Recently, I checked the web and "All y'all" shows up in multiple documents including an article in "The Onion". Y'all, apparently, is now singular, meaning you in particular. Do all y'all have any other examples of a phrase changing form or a formal name for the transformation? Also, how long has "all y'all" been in common usage?

: I love "The Onion," but I wouldn't count on it as an authority on language.

: y'all; you-all - pronoun. "Means 'all of you.' It is used in speaking to two or more people, never to just one person except by DAMNYANKEES TRYING TO BE CUTE (emphasis mine), or who don't know any better. Besides, 'you all' is sanctioned by biblical use (Job 17:10). Grammatically speaking, 'ya'll' is known as the 'generous plural'' so is Yankee 'youse,' rural and mountain 'you-uns,' and the interesting 'mongst-ye,' which used to be heard in coastal North Carolina and Virginia." From "Southern Stuff: Down-home Talk and Bodacious Lore from Deep in the Heart of Dixie" by Mildred Jordan Brooks (Avon Books, New York, 1992).

In western Pennsylvania, the northernmost reaches of Appalachian speech, "you-uns" is slurred into "yuns" but pronounced more like "yins." "Are yuns going to lunch?"