The future of the English second person plural (was Re: A question)
|From:||Tom Wier <artabanos@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, August 14, 1999, 2:44|
Patrick Dunn wrote:
> That had occurred to me, and with that very language! One other question
> on that score: since English lacks a 2nd personal plural pronoun, is it
> likely to borrow one from another language or modify the existing pronoun?
I find it highly unlikely that English would bother to borrow a second person
plural pronoun when there are tens of millions of English speakers already using
one. I'm not just talking about <y'all> (which I use): <you guys> is quickly
becoming the commonly accepted plural in areas outside the southern United
States. There are probably a couple hundred thousand English speakers using
forms like <you'uns>, both in the US and, I hear, in Britain.
> What's more common? Juzgaiz? Jal? Or something Japanese?
I honestly can't imagine <yous guys> becoming popular, if only because it's
restricted to such a small part of the US, which is, afterall, not even close to a large
part of the English speaking world. I think in the end, it'll be a contest between
<y'all> and <you guys>, for two reasons:
(a) these are already the most commonly used forms. In the southern US,
I'd estimate that about 30 to 40 million people use <y'all>, and outside this
region, I can't even put a number to <you guys>, but it's big, probably bigger
than <y'all>, since it's also used in the UK and elsewhere too.
(b) this is complicated by the fact that, in the US, <y'all> is also the
default plural pronoun for African American communities, for not so
suprising reasons (the Black migration north and west after the Civil War
and at other times, too). So, it also has some currency outside the South,
though I can't really envision its spreading outside North America anytime
soon. <you guys> also has some currency in the South, because it's
seen by some as less dialectal (it's certainly less region-specific).
There is, of course, the outside chance that people will continue to tolerate
the ambiguity of having no plural specific pronoun. I find this unlikely, because
everyone I know uses one of the two, and I personally couldn't imagine not
seeing a need for one (although I am of course very biased in this respect).
At any rate, that's situation as I see it.
Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704
"Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."