Y'all

Josh Lalonde   Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:13 am GMT
This rhymes with 'ball' right (eg. [jQl])? What about in cot-caught merged accents; is it [jAl]?
Brennus   Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:21 am GMT
"All" is pronounced like awl' in standard British English. However, in American English I've heard only ahl' and y'ahl' (for the contraction of "You all").
O'Bruadair   Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:50 pm GMT
I don't believe that most of my yankee brethren would claim Y'all as an "American English word". It is most certianly a "Southern English" one however!

They constantly try and belittle us for our common usage of the word. The poor deluded souls really seem to believe that when we use it we are speaking of an individual. Bless their little hearts. This is just not so. This common yankee misconception arises from their ignorance of Southern culture.

Family and extended family hold a larger place and larger importance in Southern culture than it does in yankee culture. Southerners are much more gregarious than yankees. When we are speaking to an individual and we say something like “y’all come” (y’all come and visit us) we are not inviting an individual to our home. We are saying “come and visit us and bring the wife, the kids, Grandma, Aunt Flo, Cousin Billy, your coon dog and anybody else you can fit in the car or on the back of the pickup”.
Josh Lalonde   Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:49 pm GMT
Thanks, O'Bruadair, I've never heard it explained like that. Could "y'all" also be used to one person to show respect (like vous in French, etc.)? I'm mostly wondering about the pronunciation though. Does it rhyme with 'ball' for you?
O'Bruadair   Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:16 pm GMT
No not really. I don’t believe I have EVER heard a Southerner use y’all when he meant one person (only yankees trying to mimic Southern English do that)

Yes, y’all rhymes with ball. I’m sure though that our pronunciation would sound more like yawl and bawl to a non-Southerner.
Lazar   Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:51 pm GMT
<<This rhymes with 'ball' right (eg. [jQl])?>>

Yeah, I think all c-c-unmerged accents use /Ol/ for "all", so I'm pretty sure that "y'all" would be /jOl/. m-w.com gives /jOl/.
Skippy   Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:53 pm GMT
I use "ya'll" in singular context sometimes, and my friends in California find that especially odd, but typically when I do it I'm thinking in the back of my mind "you and your friends." One doesn't use it to show politeness really, though in the near future that may very well be the case.
Belle   Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:26 pm GMT
In some regions of the South "y'all" is singular, while "all y'all" is plural.
O'Bruadair   Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:31 pm GMT
"....when I do it I'm thinking in the back of my mind "you and your friends."

This is exactly my point Skip. This is what yankees seem to be incapable of understanding.


Belle (is that “Southern Belle”?) “In some regions of the South "y'all" is singular” This may appear to be the case sometimes (as when there are only the speaker and one other person within earshot) but I believe that in at least 99% of the time the speaker has the same thing as Skip does in the back of his mind.
Josh Lalonde   Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:36 pm GMT
I definitely have heard people use "all y'all" though. Is there a difference in meaning?
22IC   Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:43 pm GMT
And let's not forget "youse" here either.
Guest   Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:46 pm GMT
"y'all" is /jAl/ for me. Yes, it rhymes with "ball". Who wouldn't pronounce it to rhyme with "ball"?
Josh Lalonde   Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:02 pm GMT
So Guest, you are cot-caught merged, right? I was just checking to see if Southern American English speakers pronounced "y'all" the same as AAVE speakers.
Shatnerian   Thu Mar 22, 2007 6:29 pm GMT
I say "you" if it is one person, but "you guys" if it is more than one. I even say "you guys" if the group is all female.

The term "y'all" seems very foreign to me, but I have heard people say it here. It was a bit surreal at first. They used the [jAl] pronunciation.
Guest   Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:55 pm GMT
<<So Guest, you are cot-caught merged, right? I was just checking to see if Southern American English speakers pronounced "y'all" the same as AAVE speakers.>>

Yes, I'm cot-caught merged. I'm from Tennessee (that's [t_hIn@si] for us natives).