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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." ===========================================