What's the origin of "y'all"? Many people think it's a contraction of "you all" however that can be questioned.
The stress pattern of y'all does not favor the contraction you+all because it would likely derive you'll instead of y'all.
<< The stress pattern of y'all does not favor the contraction you+all because it would likely derive you'll instead of y'all. >>
I disagree. When I say "you all", I usually stress the "all", which naturally becomes "y'all" in rapid speech.
So rather than saying:
"do YOU all have it?"
"do you ALL have it?"
Because the latter would sound odd to me.
Especially in the American South, we use "you all" and "ya'll" interchangeably so, in my opinion, there's no reason to suspect that it has come from anything else...
Oh, and I guess this would be a good place to say it... But ya'll is, in fact, often used in the singular as a formal address.
I think it depends on your accent. I think "you all" contracts nicely to ya'll if you've got a Southern American accent. I quite like the way those southern girls say ya'll. I met cute girl from the Dallas once and she said ya'll. She also thanked me for being "canned" to her. I think that means nice but I might be wrong.
I hate it when it's spelled "ya'll", with the apostrophe after the "a"... that never really made sense to me.
<< So rather than saying:
"do YOU all have it?"
"do you ALL have it?"
Because the latter would sound odd to me. >>
More or less. I would stress the "you" if I wanted to emphasize who it was I was addressing, but otherwise the stress falls on the "all". I'm not sure why, exactly.
<< She also thanked me for being "canned" to her. I think that means nice but I might be wrong. >>
I can't tell if you're joking or not, so I'll go ahead and say the word is "kind"... it does sound kind of like "canned" in a Southern accent, but a Southerner would pronounce "canned" differently, so they wouldn't become homonyms.
<<Oh, and I guess this would be a good place to say it... But ya'll is, in fact, often used in the singular as a formal address.>>
Skippy, I grew up in Tennessee and had relatives all over the South, but I have NEVER heard y'all used in the singular.
In fact, that would be very bewildering. You might say,"Did y'all see The Closer last night?" speaking to ONE person, but you would be referring to the whole family.
But to say,"I like the shirt y'all are wearing" would give a Southerner a puzzled look. Huh?
To be fair, while I have heard MOST of the Southern dialects, I haven't heard them ALL.
But I maintain using y'all in the singular would be perceived as coming from a transplanted Yankee.
<<<< She also thanked me for being "canned" to her. I think that means nice but I might be wrong. >>
I can't tell if you're joking or not, so I'll go ahead and say the word is "kind"... it does sound kind of like "canned" in a Southern accent, but a Southerner would pronounce "canned" differently, so they wouldn't become homonyms. >>
I remember two (purportedly true) stories I heard about the confusion that some Southern vowels can cause in Northern ears:
One concerned a traveller asking a local southerner for directions, and it went fine until the line "then you turn left at the lot."
"You know -- the lot. Turns red and green...."
The other had to do with their tendency to make a diphthong out of any old vowel:
A prospective landlord was asking an interested renter if they had any "payettes". Not being sure if they did or not, the renter asked what a "payette" might be, and the landlord, quite puzzled, said: "You know -- dogs and cats."
I myself remember being a little kid on vacation in the mountains of Arkansas and thinking my grandparent's friend had finally lost her last marble when she started telling me all about the "whale" they had found on Petit Jean Mountain -- took me all day to realize she meant "well"!
Having spent my teenage years in what might be the capital of y'all-dom, Mississippi, it always seemed clear that it derived from "you all". To this day you can hear all degrees of contraction from a fully articulated "you all" to a slurred "y'all" and every shade in between.
I suppose you could argue that this situation could be the result of folk etymology, but without any evidence to the contrary I think the simplest explanation is best.
I'm from Dallas and I hear 'ya'll' in singular all the time.
At church this morning countless people asked me (I was alone) how are ya'll doin...
And "canned" would be spelled "kind" in Standard English :-P
Are you a native? It makes all the difference in the world. After all, the person who asked you "How are y'all doing?" could have been referring to your entire family, not just you. There's a real possibility you're mistaken if you're not a native.
On the other hand, perhaps there really are pockets of singular "y'all" usage. I've heard most, but not all, of the Southern dialects. I lived in San Antone for a while--but did not mix with the natives much. My aunt and uncle lived in Wichita Falls--but did not talk about the "y'all" usage there.
Moreover, perhaps "y'all" usage has changed over the years. I'm in my 40s; as we all know, language does change over time.
This subject interests me enough to do some research. I have access to some native Texans. One--from Houston--has told me, in no uncertain terms (she is a real pistol, let me tell you!) that "y'all" is always plural. But she's just one person.
I'm not a stubborn man, Skippy. If I find out that you're right, I would be happy to retract my statements. But to someone who was born and raised in Tennessee, singular "y'all" usage really would seem odd; how would you ever know who they were talking about?
But in terms of linguistics/word usage, this interests me enough to do the research. I'll get back to you. Maybe they call Texas the Lone Star State for a reason!! ;-)
<< singular "y'all" usage really would seem odd; how would you ever know who they were talking about? >>
The same way that people know who is being talked about in dialects that don't have "y'all". ;)
It's interesting to note that in French, "vous" actually began as the plural form of "you", and only acquired the meaning of a formal version of singular "you" later on. So the idea of "y'all" evolving a singular meaning isn't that strange, even if such actual usage is rare.
I spoke with a native Texan already today; he said,"Y'all is short for you all. Which generally refers to more than one. I've never used it in the singular form unless I was referring to an individual who shares an opinion with many.
See if you can't get the "chatter" to reference an example of how "y'all" is used in the singular."
So far, this confirms my opinion, but this is--so far--only two Texans. His use of y'all in the singular, viz, to "an individual who shares an opinion with many", is a usage I'd not thought of, but it does make sense.
Say you were talking to an individual Republican. You might say,"I can't see how y'all still support this war!"
Can you see how a Northerner would confuse this usage? Said to one person, while referring to many.-
I'll continue my research and get back to you.
You should be a little more careful. You put my name in the name field of your post. ;)
I'm a native... born in Dallas... Grew up here...
Granted, it may typically have the implications of "you and your family" or "you and your friends" but in context it was singular.