Hey Y'all English Know-it-alls

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I'm with you RCC. I grew up saying I seen and youse guys but they both annoy me now when I spend any time with my family.
Originally Posted by missbanjo
Call me a grammar snob, but I cringe just reading "I seen". I feel like I have to flush my eyes with Visine now! And I can't hear "youse" without an image of Bobby De Niro popping into my head.

Y'all is different, since as others have noted, English lacks a distinction between "you" as a single or a plural form. So it's simply a contraction of "you all", which specifies that the speaker is communicating to a group.

But I am dead set against allowing the vernacular to be taught in schools, or permitted in verbal and written work in the classroom. (It calls to mind the debate over Ebonics in the 1990s, in which some educators sought to incorporate so-called black slang into the curriculum.)

Eilonwy is accurate (as usual) about the profound influence of the Scots-Irish on American society, particularly in the South. I just started reading Born Fighting, which tells this story in a very compelling way. (The author, Jim Webb, is a bit of a misogynist, having provoked controversy with his essay "Women Can't Fight", but that's a different topic altogether!)

Ah, fuhgeddaboutit!
Originally Posted by yossarian


But if you consider "I seen" and "youse" to be wrong/non-standard, then "y'all" should be just as wrong/non-standard. You are giving a pass to something that is just cuter sounding, probably because it has an attractive historical significance.
I
I'm with you RCC. I grew up saying I seen and youse guys but they both annoy me now when I spend any time with my family.
Originally Posted by missbanjo
Call me a grammar snob, but I cringe just reading "I seen". I feel like I have to flush my eyes with Visine now! And I can't hear "youse" without an image of Bobby De Niro popping into my head.

Y'all is different, since as others have noted, English lacks a distinction between "you" as a single or a plural form. So it's simply a contraction of "you all", which specifies that the speaker is communicating to a group.

But I am dead set against allowing the vernacular to be taught in schools, or permitted in verbal and written work in the classroom. (It calls to mind the debate over Ebonics in the 1990s, in which some educators sought to incorporate so-called black slang into the curriculum.)

Eilonwy is accurate (as usual) about the profound influence of the Scots-Irish on American society, particularly in the South. I just started reading Born Fighting, which tells this story in a very compelling way. (The author, Jim Webb, is a bit of a misogynist, having provoked controversy with his essay "Women Can't Fight", but that's a different topic altogether!)

Ah, fuhgeddaboutit!
Originally Posted by yossarian


But if you consider "I seen" and "youse" to be wrong/non-standard, then "y'all" should be just as wrong/non-standard. You are giving a pass to something that is just cuter sounding, probably because it has an attractive historical significance.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I agree - "youse" and "y'all" are basically the same thing in different regional dialects, are they not?

I'll admit I'm a grammar snob who grew up speaking essentially "standard English", and a lot of phrases make me cringe if used formally. In conversation, as long as I can figure out what someone means, I don't really care what words they choose.



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True RCW.

I say y'all sometimes and I think I picked it up here actually (how does that work ) but I haven't said youse guys in probably 25 years. The SO's from Georgia and never says y'all.
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But if you consider "I seen" and "youse" to be wrong/non-standard, then "y'all" should be just as wrong/non-standard. You are giving a pass to something that is just cuter sounding, probably because it has an attractive historical significance.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
Not at all - y'all doesn't strike me as particularly "cute". I'm a little perplexed where I implied that. I merely pointed out that due to the peculiarities of English, we do not have separate pronouns to directly address individuals and collectives. Linguistic origins are irrelevant.

But I can see where youse is equivalent to y'all in that regard. Point taken, especially since I love De Niro.

Personally, I would.not use either term, but I have no aversion to others doing so in informal contexts. As a professor, however, I would not permit them in written or spoken coursework.

"I seen", OTOH, is simply awkward and poor communication, in my humble opinion.

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True RCW.

I say y'all sometimes and I think I picked it up here actually (how does that work ) but I haven't said youse guys in probably 25 years. The SO's from Georgia and never says y'all.
Originally Posted by missbanjo
I rarely use ya'll, but that is because of my oldest brother. He told me that I could not say these things because they were not accepted by many. He worked worked with me on my accent/dialect so I would 'stand a chance' in life. That was incredibly hard for me to understand as a child, and still is.

I have witnessed a man cuss wait staff for saying ya'll. He told them they were stupid hicks that made his skin crawl and that word was never to be uttered in the establishment. The waitresses were sobbing. I kept looking at the knife on the table... Nothing upsets me more, and it is sadly a common.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I'm not going to call someone an idiot to his face for saying 'I seen.'

But, back when I was Internet dating, messages that said, 'I seen your ad' were immediately deleted.
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I try my hardest to keep in mind that you are talking about more than words. When talking about the different nuances you are speaking about someones home, which very well may be their heart.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

True RCW.

I say y'all sometimes and I think I picked it up here actually (how does that work ) but I haven't said youse guys in probably 25 years. The SO's from Georgia and never says y'all.
Originally Posted by missbanjo
I have witnessed a man cuss wait staff for saying ya'll. He told them they were stupid hicks that made his skin crawl and that word was never to be uttered in the establishment. The waitresses were sobbing. I kept looking at the knife on the table... Nothing upsets me more, and it is sadly a common.
Originally Posted by Fifi.G
I would hope that if I was in that restaurant, I would have given that idiot a piece of my mind. What a judgmental, belligerent excuse for a human being.

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My mom is from another country and came to US to attend college. She studied for and became a teacher. At the time she was in college, she not only had to learn the formal English language, but also had to lose her accent in order to become employed. Because howI could not then and cannot now, say y'all or I seen, youse guys. They don't enter into my vernacular. Not a knock against anyone who does use those terms.
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True RCW.

I say y'all sometimes and I think I picked it up here actually (how does that work ) but I haven't said youse guys in probably 25 years. The SO's from Georgia and never says y'all.
Originally Posted by missbanjo
I have witnessed a man cuss wait staff for saying ya'll. He told them they were stupid hicks that made his skin crawl and that word was never to be uttered in the establishment. The waitresses were sobbing. I kept looking at the knife on the table... Nothing upsets me more, and it is sadly a common.
Originally Posted by Fifi.G
I would hope that if I was in that restaurant, I would have given that idiot a piece of my mind. What a judgmental, belligerent excuse for a human being.

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Originally Posted by yossarian
He sincerely was a bad person. He was very crude, offensive, hurtful and was also stealing money from the owner.

But that was okay because he was from California, and did not have an accent, which someone made him better than everyone else. Let me add that is in no way some type of judgement or broad statement. That is in fact what he told us, on a daily basis.

To us, he did have an accent, and I in no way minded it.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 12-14-2012 at 08:52 AM.
I think if there is a need to sharply contrast "you singular" and "you pural" w/in one statement, then I would be OK w/ using "you all" for the sake of clarity.

(I prefer for language to be clear and slightly nongrammatical than for it to be confusing and perfectly grammatical.)
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But I do kind of wish that English had some form of plural "you," like other languages. I feel like we're missing out.
Originally Posted by SCG
You're not. English grammar is wonderfully easy, and yet it is still a very rich and precise language. I can express ideas much more easily in it than in my native tongue.

Other languages have confusing pronouns too. In German, "sie" stands for either a formal "you", "they" or "she". In French, "on" can mean a generic person, like "one" (as in "One shouldn't talk to strangers"), or it can replace nous (we). You also have to guess if you're hearing someone say elle/elles or il/ils (sing. and plural feminine and masculine pronouns, respectively) because the s is silent unless followed by a word that starts in a vowel...usually.

Not to mention how complex verb conjugation can be and how you have to learn to distinguish between formal and informal pronouns...for instance, the rules for using tú/vosotros/vos/usted/ustedes change depending in which Spanish-speaking country you find yourself. You were wise to get rid of all that nonsense, you were!
Originally Posted by Dedachan
I think the English language is rather messy when it comes to pronouns and certain grammatical rules and appreciate the specificity of Spanish. It's very clear which "you" is meant in Spanish.
Originally Posted by Saria
Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking! I'm only one semester into Spanish, but thus far, that has been my experience.

As for French, I think they've got it set up in a fairly user-friendly manner, too. Also, I kind of love using on to replace nous - il/elle/on is usually easier to conjugate than nous, and I'm lazy, sooo... As for the rest of French, it's a language full of exceptions to the rule, which drives me insane, but... That's the French for you.

I just can't help but think of all of the instances in which people on here write "you (general you)" because there's so much room for confusion.

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If I'm not in a formal setting(job interview, unknown work environment, etc) I use y'all. It's so normal to me that I never even knew it was a southern thing until my ex from nyc pointed it out(I was 1. I also had no idea that grits, fried okra, and sweet tea was a foreign concept to some people.

There is no way I can not use y'all for plural you in a casual sentence.
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