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Re: USAGE: Y'all [was Re: varia]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, February 13, 2005, 5:19
Mark wrote:
> Just to chime in here - I was born in Massachussetts but raised from > age 2 in Georgia by parents who were born in Virginia but raised in > the Midwest. So it would not be surprising if my 'lect were a bit > more muddled than most.
Yeah, my mother is from Waco and my father from Houston, so I'm not a very interesting case. Not to belabor a point, I found the journal article referred in that news article I mentioned the other day. It's in the _Journal of English Linguistics_, from 2000. I've saved the PDF and y'all can access it here: <> The spread of <y'all> beyond the South is really even more breathtaking than I had ever suspected. According to that article, not only do approximately 80% of Southerners use <y'all>, nearly 50% of non-Southerners do too. That means that there are upwards of 170-180 million people in the United States who use <y'all>, which is a number greater than all German speakers, or all French speakers, and almost as many people as speak Bengali or Hindi, and greater than the populations of the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand put together. I had always thought the number of users of the pronoun to be no higher than 110-120 million, max. Its spread is apparently linked to no clear factor other than age and region; non-Southerners who are 65+ years are unlikely to use it ever (only 6.78% do so), but the percentage increases greatly going down by age, such that approx. 42.68% of the under-24s use it. Also, people from the montanian west and all the states that border the South are more likely to use it than any of the traditional North or California and (strangely to me) Nevada; but as people in this forum have stated, it exists even in those places where it's resisted. Their data as to how <y'all> is actually used outside the South is less certain, but their preliminary and somewhat anecdotal research suggests that it has the same functional distribution that it does in the South. As they say in the article, all these facts suggest that, for younger speakers especially, <y'all> has lost or is losing its connotation of Southernness and is becoming simply an Americanism. ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637