Friday, November 12, 2010

Southernese

I am reading, but am about to stop reading, a novel set in north Georgia. The author is from the north or the midwest or Michigan maybe?

The reason I mention where the author lives is because while s/he's obviously done research about the north Georgia foothills (things like red clay, poultry farms, herbs, apples, etc. are popping up all over the place), s/he fell down on the use of y'all.

To all people outside the south:  y'all is plural. It's short for you all. All means more than one. Well, usually three I think but for our purposes, we'll take it to mean more than one.

For example, you can pull up in your car by 2-3 walkers and ask, "Y'all want a ride?" Fine. No problem.

But you don't say this if there is only one walker. Then it's, "You want a ride?"

See? When you speak to one person, you say you. You speak to more than one, say y'all. Easy.

That being understood, there are instances when you can speak to one person and say y'all. One example is meeting someone on the street and asking about the spouse and family. Before you go your separate ways, it is perfectly permissible to say, "Now y'all come by and see us sometime, you hear?" That's because you're issuing an (admittedly vague) invitation to one person and his/her entire family to visit. Whew.

So after the umpteenth scene in which the heroine, alone with the hero, says y'all in her 'soft southern drawl' to him without mention of family, I'm ready to throw in the towel. Now y'all come over here and let me fix that cut on your head. Now y'all sit down and eat this sandwich I made specially for you. I swear, I just love y'all to pieces.

Ugh, And it's not a bad story either. Except for this one nit, I'd probably enjoy the book.

3 comments:

  1. That's the reason for the old saw "write what you know.

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  2. Lady Cheryl


    And then it gets fun to say that in parts of that grey bit at the top of American weather maps, you-all (never y'all) can and is used to refer to a single individual. But the book isn't set in the Great Unknown. It's set in GA, so it should follow GA rules :-).


    UNSCM

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  3. Guess the y'all thing resonates with me, Nan, because it's so often used to stereotype a (often) yokel southerner.

    And yes, Graeme, I do think a story set in Georgia should follow GA rules!

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