Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Talkin' Southern with Roger Johns: Y’all in All Its Glory #Bookgiveaway


HALLIE EPHRON: My last book was set in South Carolina, so I'm well aware of the challenge of writing authentic Southern-tinged dialogue. I'm happy to discover that even a southerner has to struggle to get it right.

Here's Roger Johns, author of River of Secrets, talking with y'all about just one of the conundrums of Southern speakl So, all y'all, listen up!

ROGER JOHNS: A few weeks ago, as a way to distract myself from a case of the jitters over the impending release of my second book, River of Secrets, I decided to see if I could get a handle, once and for all, on the debate surrounding the proper use of “y’all” and “all of y’all”.

With only four letters and one apostrophe, you’d think “y’all,” the quintessential Southernism, would be fully understood, by now. It’s not. “Y’all” is nothing if not a study in nuance and controversy. I had recently had a near throw-down over the matter so, while it was fresh in my mind, I started asking around on social media and in person, to see how others felt about it.

If you live outside the South, you may be unaware of this disagreement. It isn’t a Hatfield-and-McCoy-caliber feud, but it’s a live issue and it’s been simmering for as long as I can remember. If you write Southern characters and you want to get that Southern sound just right, or if you’re visiting the South and you want to fit right in, here’s everything you need to know about “y’all” versus “all of y’all.”

[NOTE: Having spent many years in the professoriate, I tend to see all bodies of knowledge through the lens of the academic article, so I’ve documented the results of my investigation in that fashion because, as everyone knows, academic prose is the clearest, easiest-to-read style of writing there is.]

The Main Controversy

Most of the folks I queried consider “y’all” acceptable, even in polite company. However, it’s linguistic cousin “all of y’all” is not universally accepted. A small but determined group of purists contends that “all of y’all” is plagued with a redundancy. This group (let’s call them the anti-Redundanistas) is quick to point out that, because “y’all” is a contracted form of “you all”, by definition it refers to everyone being addressed, so the “all of” is redundant and should be left off.

Unsurprisingly, the anti-Redundanistas are dismissed as grammar scolds by members of the Singular-Plural Camp, the most vocal defenders of “all of y’all” (sometimes rendered “all a y’all”). Under their theory, “y’all” is singular (referring to all members of a single group) and “all of y’all” is plural (encompassing either multiple groups or one really, really large group).

The Singular-Plurals are, in turn, dismissed by proponents of the Numerosity-Temperament Conjecture who contend that “y’all” refers to everyone the speaker could reasonably be addressing, while “all of y’all” indicates, not just the number of people or groups, but also the speaker’s frame of mind. Under their thinking, “Y’all are in trouble” is a yellow-card warning. However, “All of y’all are in trouble” (sometimes voiced as “Y’all are all in trouble” – a variant extant principally below the Georgia Gnat Line) is the equivalent of Defcon-1.

And, finally, there’s the “All Y’all/All of Y’all” Conundrum.  While in most cases “all y’all” and “all of y’all” are synonymous, in other contexts “all y’all” may simultaneously have more than one meaning. This can be confusing, especially to non-Southerners. Consider the example: “I want all y’all to know that I appreciate all y’all did for me.” Here, the expression refers both to the group and to something the group did.

Related Issues

During my look-around, I even encountered a few who belong to what’ I’ll call the Axe-the-Apostrophe Insurgency. This is a forward-looking group that wants to formalize “yall” as the official spelling. They claim the apostrophic form draws unnecessary attention to the word’s hick town pedigree.

And then . . . there’s “Mom’an’em” (rhymes with homonym), a heavily elided thrice-contracted form of “Momma and them.” Like “y’all”, this popular but less versatile expression refers to a group, however its use is confined to groups of which one’s momma is a member. Mixing and matching, with this one, is widely practiced and perfectly acceptable. Hence “I’m guessin’ all y’all’re gonna meet mom’en’em up at the ball park” would be an unremarkable construction.

While I feel as if I learned a lot during this investigation, I sense there’s more. If you’d like to weigh in on the “y’all” debate, or if you’d like to cast your vote for a particular school of thought, I’d love to hear from you (even if you’re from north of the Mason-Dixon Line or west of the Rockies). And, if all of y’all would like to offer any guidance on other regional slang, I’m all ears.

HALLIE: This feels so perfect coming after yesterday's discussion of just and so. I'm in the Singular-Plural camp. Though I wonder if I can even vote since I've got no southern roots, and for the longest time the closest I got to "South" was Florida and DC.

What do the rest of all y'all think?

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Roger is giving away a copy of RIVER OF SECRETS plus a bit of swag to one lucky commenter!

BIO

ROGER JOHNS is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor, and the author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books: Dark River Rising (2017) and River of Secrets (2018). He is the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective ▪ Mystery Category), a 2018 Killer Nashville Readers’ Choice Award nominee, and a finalist for the 2018 Silver Falchion Award for best police procedural. His articles about writing and the writing life have appeared in Career Author, Criminal Element, and Killer Nashville Articles. Roger belongs to the Atlanta Writers Club, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. He is a member of The ITW Fearless Bloggers and, along with four other crime fiction writers, he co-authors the MurderBooks blog at www.murder-books.com. You can visit him at www.rogerjohnsbooks.com.

SYNOPSIS: River of Secrets

Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana politician with a reputation for changing his mind on sensitive issues, has been murdered. DNA evidence points at Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who furthers his causes by confronting powerful, wealthy people with their uncomfortable past. A history of conflict between Marioneaux and Pitkin cause many in the court of public opinion to call for Pitkin’s conviction. Wallace Hartman, the homicide detective assigned to the investigation, is also the childhood best friend of Pitkin’s half-brother so, in the eyes of some, her objectivity is in question. Wallace discovers an iffy alibi witness along with evidence of a deeply troubled relationship between Marioneaux and his son, shifting suspicion in a new direction. Questions about the DNA arise, Pitkin’s supporters and enemies square off in the street, and what began as an open and shut case becomes murky and politicized, sparking waves of violence across Baton Rouge. And, at her time of greatest need, the prospect of sabotage from a leak within her department forces Wallace to go it alone as she digs deep into the dark heart of the political establishment to untangle a web of old, disturbing secrets.

112 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Roger. It does sound quite intriguing.

    Despite having lived in Alabama for ten or so years, I must confess to not having encountered “all of y’all” before now, so as far as the great debate is concerned, “y’all” seems to be the extent of my southern-speak. . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan. I happy you've been spared the "all of y'all" controversy, so far. The expression does seem to be gaining ground, though. It may only be a matter of time before it's everywhere.

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  2. I love "all y'all"! It's such a Southern term, and they have the most colorful expressions. I didn't know it was controversial though, or that it could have so many meanings. But even without that knowledge I would vote to keep it. It's part of the Southern vernacular and brings a richness to the language. Sorry, anti-Redundanistas. I know your intentions are good, but that dog don't hunt, bless your hearts.

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    1. Bless her heart... is one of the all-time backhanded compliments.
      That dog DON'T hunt? or that dog WON'T hunt?

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    2. Hallie - DON'T hunt as in the argument put forth is too old, lazy, or just plain inept and therefore will not perform as expected.

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    3. Thank you, Marla. Spoken like a true Southerner (even if you're from elsewhere). I'm with you on this.

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    4. Hallie, I'm afraid you've stepped into the fray over yet another controversial Southernism. The "Don't/Won't" controversy is every bit as contentious as the All of Y'all debate. It's just too hot for me to handle.

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    5. Sounds like those Southerners have a lot of controversial phrases! Not being a Southerner myself, the "don't/won't" debate was yet another one I wasn't aware of. (And Hallie, I was never sure which one was correct so thank you for asking the question!)

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    6. Yep, it's a minefield down here.

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    8. Roger, my friend from Slidell say's "won't", not "don't." So that's my little bit of Louisiana expertise. Now my husband, native north Texas like me, says it all the time, too.

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    9. Deborah, I'm personally in the "won't" camp, but I've been known to use "don't" for emphasis.

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  3. I love the academic presentation, although I'm afraid not enough passives were employed (see what I did there?) - I have an academic background myself (in linguistics, no less). "Y'all" scratches our itch to distinguish singular from plural that English sorely lacks in the second-person pronouns. In Pittsburgh they say "y'ins" to fill the same gap. Many of us say "you guys" even when the guys are gals. I'm not sure if "youse" is strictly for plural or can be used for singular. Best of luck with the new book!

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    1. I've never heard of those, and I love the analysis. Thanks, Edith!
      No plural second-person pronouns. I only realized that when I learned French.

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    2. Thanks, Edith. "Y'ins" is a new one on me, but I'm happy to learn of it. and I hope if I use it that I use it correctly. Thanks for the well-wishes.

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  4. I lived in Atlanta for fifteen years. Y'all. And now that it's football season, "How 'bout them dawgs?"
    Crazier than a bed bug.

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    1. and lallygagging, mosey, cattywampus

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    2. Hallie, in our part of Texas, we say "lollygagging," not "lallygagging." We do say mosey and cattywampus, which I love. It's so descriptive.

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  5. I can almost see the Mason-Dixon Line from my house, since I live less than two miles from the Ohio River. We straddle the line here, since we also have a farm in rural Kentucky, just 40 miles away. That part of Kentucky has a lot of residents who have never been out of their own county, except to the "big city", Cincinnati or Louisville.

    People this close to the edge of what is generally acknowledged as "Southern" don't usually use "y'all" very much. There are exceptions, though. Because of some big company headquarters located in this area (Procter & Gamble, Federated, Kroger), we do get quite a few incomers from all over, so it's hard to generalize.

    My sister, however, lives in Mississippi, just across the river from Memphis. And she and her family have adopted the use of "Y'all" and use it liberally, it's such a part of the culture in that area. I confess that I have never heard her use "all y'all" or "all of y'all". But I only see her once a year or so.

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    1. Cinci? Does not feel southern to me. The food's all wrong.

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    2. Depends where you go. We have several great Cajun restaurants, a bunch of fried chicken places, and so on.

      Next time you're in the area we could explore!

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    3. Hi Karen in Ohio. I'm guessing there's an academic study out there correlating y'all usage with latitude in the South. I'm hoping that one day our higher latitude cousins will embrace y'all in all it's glory.

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  6. Roger this is so funny - and why this northern girl shies away from a writing Southern! Of course in Pittsburgh we have “yinz” which can be singular or plural and everything in between.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Yinz?? Mary, used how in a sentence??

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    2. I'm with Hallie, on this. Can you give us an example of "y'ins" or "yinz" in a sentence. And don't be afraid of the y'all. Anyone can use it, and fines for misuse are very, very low.

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    3. Okay, here's one. "Yinz guys want to go dahntahn to grab a sammich at Primanti's and watch the Stillers game?"

      And yes, it's as painful to type as it is to hear.

      But to hear it, you have to check out Pittsburgh Dad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkB4ZsFUTH4

      Mary/Liz

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  7. Roger, while your study is a delightful bit of research, your academia-speak is slipping. Jargon, where's the piling on of jargon?! And context, y'all, context. Language is wonderfully slippery and alive and all of the usages make perfect sense in context. And all y'all better get out of my way as I trample on some toes to get my own copy of Wallace's latest case!

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    1. LOVE the sound of language that's "wonderfully slippery and alive" - Thanks, Flora!

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    2. My apologies, Flora. But, you're absolutely correct. My academia-speak is slipping. In my defense, I'll say only that my jargon-piling skills have gone unused for a long time, now that I've retired from the academy. If I don't get my act together, people in the know will start accusing me of being a mere popularizer - and they'll be right. Hope you enjoy Wallace's newest case.

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  8. I grew up in Missouri, where y'all is used some, but not a lot. Back in high school I spent one summer at a theatre camp, where one of my co-campers was from Philadelphia. We had a few friendly conversations about whether "y'all" or "youze" was the appropriate term for the rest of the members of our group, until my Philly friend finally adopted the compromise term "youze all."

    When I moved to west Texas as an adult I ran into "y'all" as a reference to either a single person or a group. "All y'all" is definitely a group pronoun. I've never heard it as "all of y'all." "Mom'en'em" should be obvious to even Yankee ears, as in "All y'all fixin' to go' with Mom'en'em to the movies?" (And why is it always "the movies" rather than "a movie"?)

    "Fixin' to" was the Texas term I had to wrap my brain around, since it means "getting ready to" do something, and may be used in sentences like, "Are y'all fixin' to get ready to go?"

    Also, I have to give a shout out to "Ellum." "Ellum" means "Elm," as the tree or the street. There is an area of Dallas called "Deep Ellum" that centers on Elm Street, just west of downtown. It has even been immortalized in the song "Deep Ellum Blues." I didn't truly understand the term until the day I spoke with an elderly Texas gentleman with a somewhat broader accent than I was used to hearing. Sure enough, he gave his address as "North Ellum Street." A lot of that accent/dialect has disappeared now that so many Yankees are moving to Texas (Seriously, if you were born north of the Red River, you're a Yankee.) I also hear far less of it in Dallas than I did west of Fort Worth.

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    1. Please Gigi, get it right. It's fiddin' to, not fixin' to. LOL

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    2. ELLUM!

      Here in Boston they add um in the middle, too. As in "That's mi-yun" - aka it belongs to me.

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    3. And Gigi, I've heard about west Ellum for years, but never north Ellum. Hummmm

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    4. Gigi, "youze all" sounds strange to my Southern ears, but I'd be willing to adopt it in the name of better north/south communications. As to movies (and I'm just guessing), it's probably a contraction of "moving pictures", the way "talkies" was a contraction of "talking pictures". As for "fixin' to", I'm as baffled as anyone, even though I'm a born-and-raised Southerner, with lot's of y'all-speak in my background. And "fixin' to get ready" seems ripe for criticism by the anti-Redundanistas.

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    5. Ann, fiddlin' to??? No, no. It's definitely fixin' to!

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    6. Ann, Southerners might fiddle but Texans fix. And west or north depends on which direction your Ellum runs.

      Roger, "fixin'to" continues to baffle me, but I'm sure the anti-Redundanistas will have a field day with it.

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    7. You've just reminded me that my father used to say fillum for film. He has a lot of rather interesting pronunciations. The accelerator was an exhilerator. Berries were burries. No idea where those things came from.

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    8. Fillum is also how they say it in Ireland. I know it's too late to be a holdover, but I find the correlation interesting. One of my favorite books is Gerald McWhiney's Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South. which explains a lot of the language and cultural tics, including the fact that "cracker" evolved from the Welsh word for storyteller (with overtones of braggart). It's been too long since I read it. I need to go fish it out.

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  9. Roger, welcome to Jungle Reds! I met you at Bouchercon in Toronto. I did not know there was a debate about "y'all". All i remember about the Southerners is that while I was living in DC (bc - before cochlear implants) I met many people from the South and they were easier for me to lipread than people from my home state of California where many people talk really fast. LOL. Only New Yorkers seem to talk faster than Californians. Impressive that you were a corporate lawyer before writing books.

    Did your background in corporate law influence your writing? I took a corporate law class during my legal training.

    Diana

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    1. So interesting about lip reading. Not something I would have realized.

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    2. Hi Diana. I'm extremely happy to be here on Jungle Reds, today. My corporate law background put me in touch with a lot of interesting character types, but it was my time working on criminal cases, when I was clerking for a general practice firm during law school that was the most influential.

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    3. Hi Roger, thank you. I find it interesting that your days as a law clark during law school was the most influential.

      Diana

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    4. Diana, I was thinking of you the other day. We met a delightful young man, mostly deaf since birth, who can lipread in four languages, including Chinese!

      He's the new beau of a friend's daughter, and we all hope they stay together, because he is such a dear.

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    5. Interesting, Diana. I'm incapable of speaking very quickly and find very fast speech hard to process, and for years I considered that a real handicap. Then the German mother of a friend of mine told us that I'm one of the few Americans she can understand easily, so now I'm grateful for it.

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  10. Rodger, Congratulations on the new book. I recently heard someone use the "all y'all" but I can't seem to remember where. If pressed on the issue I think I identify with the proponents of the Anti Numerosity--Temperament Conjecture however I'm from Southern California so Dude, whateves.

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    1. and then... there's Valley Speak

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    2. Hi Lyda. I'm inclined in your direction. If it gets the point across, then run with it.

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  11. Mornin' Rogajohn. I, like Gigi, grew up in Missouri but had a Texas grandmother. And I'm a graduate of the University of Texas. So I can twang and drawl any time I want to.

    Ya'll or y'all? That's a whole nother question. I'm with the singular/plural group however. As in "ya'll fiddin' to bring the kids over to the house? All ya'll are welcome to come."

    Now that I've lived in Western New York for almost 20 years, and in California for 10 prior to that, I can't say that I've used the term in forever. "You guys" has become second nature. Still and all, when I meet new folks, they all say I have an accent.

    Especially when I'm cooking up a pot of black eyed peas on New Year's Day.

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    1. Ann, you are one surprise after another.

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    2. Hi Ann, I recall my time living in Boston and Los Angeles and New Mexico and I remember how proximity to a new set of expressions and idioms caused my vocabulary to change. A fascinating phenomenon, for sure.

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  12. OK y'all, there is no "all of y"all". There is only "all y'all" which is to encompass a crowd as opposed to "y"all" which may only be more than one. No good Southerner would ever add an extra syllable so therefore no "of". There is a certain cadence to it as there is in many languages. French has rigid but seemingly ridiculous pronunciation rules to make the language sound right. Southern is not so very different. You can hear it. Bless your hearts, it has to sound right. Pile on the diphthongs but no added syllables.

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    1. Oh lordy yes. You are right on Atlanta.

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    2. "Pile on the diphthongs but no added syllables" - perfect bumper sticker

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    3. Dear Atlanta, your response to the blog post was forwarded to us for review, and while your position is understandable, we are unable to take a position on one usage over another, as we see our mission as strictly reportorial. Plus, we're just too plain chicken to get ourselves caught up in something like that. Sincerely, The Y'all Commission

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    4. Hallie, yes, a bumper sticker, and I'm pretty sure POTD will be the next hot new texting abbreviation.

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    5. So true. The term "Cajun" is actually a shortened version of "Arcadian," and refers to the French exiles who traveled from Canada to Louisiana.

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  13. Originally from the Northland this has been a very interesting and entertaining intro which I enjoyed greatly. Your novel sounds captivating and intriguing.

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  14. My family is from the south and I've never heard "all of y'all." I guess that puts me squarely in the "all y'all" camp. Here's how I learned it:

    y'all = singular
    all y'all = plural
    all y'all's = plural possessive

    My family is from Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi so maybe "all of y'all" is a regional phrase.

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    1. Cathy, with such widespread Southern roots, you've probably heard it all, and you're views carry a lot of weight with me. And, while I like your exposition of y'all usage, I'm not hopeful this will settle the controversy.

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  15. Great post, Roger! Also, your book looks really interesting as well.

    I live in central Ohio, but I have family roots in Louisiana and West Virginia, so I am comfortable in the waters of y'all. And the southerners of my acquaintance all fall in the singular-plural camp. I agree with Atlanta, above, and others who have said that in my experience it is always all y'all, without that clumsy "of."

    I've enjoyed being reminded of other words I grew up hearing, too, like cattywampus and fixin' to. Southerners also have some of the best aphorisms. A favorite from my childhood: "The Lord takes care of fools and drunks."

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    1. Thanks, Susan. We will welcome you back into the soothing Waters of Y'all anytime you want to come on down.

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  16. What a fascinating post and an enthralling book which is unique. Living in the Southwest after a lifetime in the North gives me a new perspective on language and expressions.

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    1. Thanks, petite. I've lived in a few linguistically distinct areas in my life, as well, and it's always so interesting, to me, to "learn the language" wherever I've gone.

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  17. This is brilliant!
    Both sides of my family are from Atlanta, Georgia, but I was raised up north since age 2.
    I was amused by my grandmother's expressions and the fact that when my mother got tired her accent got much more noticeable.
    Libby Dodd

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    1. Thanks, Libby. And congratulations on your southern roots. I've noticed that when I'm tired my short words get longer and my long words get shorter - and that's the real test of a Southerner.

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  18. My original reply disappeared when I attempted to correct a typing error. Grr.

    Welcome to JRW, Roger, and thanks for entertaining and educating us today!

    My nephew’s southern mother-in-law told me that it’s definitely “all y’all”; there’s no question about it!
    A former co-worker from many years ago, born and raised in Arkansas, told us that we are damnyankees, not damn Yankees.(“If you listen closely, you can hear the difference”. I still can’t.)

    DebRo

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    1. Hi Deb. Glad you liked my little dissertation. As you can tell from your nephew's mother-in-law's stance, this controversy ain't goin' away any time soon.

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  19. I am originally from Texas, so y'all is part of my vocabulary. I got ribbed about it at Whole Foods here in Colorado the other day when I asked, "Do y'all have any acai powder?" and didn't even realize I had said y'all until it was pointed out to me, and I was asked where I was from in the South. What do you think of the phrase "fixin' to?" I say that all the time! Well, I'm fixin' to sign off, so thank you Roger for visiting Jungle Reds!

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    1. Hi Celia. I fly my y'all flag any chance I get, especially when I'm in places where it'll stand out. I'm just that way. Same with "fixin' to". In fact, I'm fixin' to call all the Whole Foods stores in Colorado and ask everybody who answers "Do y'all have any acai powder?" (I'm not really sure what that is, but I'll ask anyway). Maybe I'll tally up their responses and write another article about it.

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  20. Hi Roger! This has been a hoot, as we say at least in my part of Texas. Texas, of course, is a whole nother can of worms. As a native Dallasite, I can't even attribute something to the DFW area, because that would include Fort Worth and they talk funny over yonder. Heaven forbid I slip up some day and use ya'll in one of my English novels!

    It is 'all ya'll,' by the way, not 'all of ya'll!' This does make me wonder why, as liberally as English has borrowed from other languages, we missed out on the plural pronoun? I have been reduced to saying "you guys" in order to avoid the dreaded "ya'll."

    Best of luck on the new Wallace book, which I am looking up immediately!

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    1. Y'all. You can tell I don't write it often!

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    2. Hi Deborah. I used to live in Denton. While the Dallasites and the Fort Worthians may have a rivalry, both cities seemed to regard Denton as an alien planet. In any event, you're right: Texas is a a whole nother can of worms, (kettle of fish, different breed of cat, horse of a different color). I just noticed that all of these metaphors for things being different are animal-based. Hmmm! Thanks for the well-wishes for the new book. I've got my fingers crossed.

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    3. No worries. In Texas, "ya'll" is only a misdemeanor.

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  21. My father was from Tuscaloosa, and I grew up in Alabama (mostly) until we left for Germany when I was in 2nd grade. I still have lots of family and shirt-tail relatives in central AL. My experience is

    you=2nd person singular
    y'all=2nd person plural
    all y'all=a whole bunch. I echo others here in that I've never heard "all of y'all."

    There's also the question of your vs y'all's. If I were to call my cousin Danette (real person) I might say, "Mee-maw's fixing to carry me to y'all's house." I would use y'all's because she, her husband, and their son live there. But if I were to call and say, "Can I borrow your (pronounced yow-uh) houndstooth scarf for gameday?" I would use your because the scarf is her personal possession.

    Keep in mind there are class and racial difference in speech in the south as in other areas. If I was being "proper" as my Mee-Maw might say, I wouldn't use the phrase "fixin' to," for instance.

    In conclusion, I would like to add: Roll Tide.

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    1. Hi Julia. We should have been co-authors on this blog post. I completely neglected the "y'all's" versus "yours" chapter. Thanks for fixin' my omission. Roll Tide.

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  22. PS - Hallie, you wouldn't say, "what do the rest of all y'all think" because all y'all encompasses EVERYONE reading your words or hearing your voice. Southerners like grammatical constructions that favor fewer words - it gives the speaker more time to add long, colorful descriptions such as:

    "RIVER OF SECRETS is so good, they're goin' have to dig up Pat Conroy, kill him with envy, and bury him all over again. What do all y'all think?"

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    1. so the 'rest of y'all' is redundant?

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    2. Julia, thank you for that stunning review of River of Secrets. It's correct on so many levels. Fingers crossed it shows up on Amazon or in the New York Times. ;)

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    3. Sounds like a jacket quote for the second printing.

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  23. Running in running in---LOVE your books, Roger! As you well know.

    And having lived in Atlanta for years, which is not-so-south, I did say all of y'all. Now I say you all. Not--y'all. Which is too bad, because y'all is much simpler. Agreed, Debs, it's a missing piece of the English language.

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    1. Thanks, Hank. Looking forward to getting my signed copy of Trust Me.

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  24. Love this thread! I’m a life-long Texas. I use y’all and all y’all. What I don’t like when someone writes a Southern character is using “y’all” as singular. To me, y’all is two people and all y’all is more than two. I would never say all of y’all. I do admit to using fixin’ to...

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    1. Thanks, Chris. I never used to say "all of y'all" but the longer I live in Georgia, the more I notice it happening. Oh, well . . .

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  25. Y'all is the contraction of you all. All y'all? Lots of youse guys. Seriously I rarely use y'all thanks to an evil teacher in junior high. She allowed only you in class. And made fun of my drawl. I'm more concerned about the proper pronunciation of pecan. It's puh-cawn. Emphasis on the second syllable. Please say it right. Thanks.

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    1. So true, Pat, on the proper pronunciation of pecan!

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    2. I'm completely with you on the proper pronunciation of pecan. I try not to judge people when they say it wrong, but . . .

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    3. Agree on puh-cahn. And these yankees don't even know it's the best nut of all.

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    4. Not just the Yankees, the Brits! They say pee-can. Makes me nuts (pun intended.)

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    5. Pee-can is what you need on surveillance.

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    6. The pronunciation of Pecan has divided our house or it did until i changed my
      CT Yankee ways.

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    7. I'm afraid that I judge when I hear "PEE can." I don't say anything, but I judge, nonetheless.

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  26. As a northerner living in NC for one year I do remember a lot of wonderful expressions. But I'm not sure I ever heard all y'all. I find myself using a lot of those expressions even now, almost 50 years later, "might could" being a personal favorite.

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    1. "Might could" is an excellent expression. It's so much more efficient than "It might happen and it could happen."

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  27. I can't wait to read this, Roger!

    My grandmother was from Nawlins, my mother from Memphis, and my father's entire family from rural west Tennessee. (Dad's family thought mom a bit snooty when they first met her because of her big-city accent.) I remember when I was 11 and my father had been restationed from Seattle to Virginia, my mother's telling my brothers and me that in The South (one could definitely hear the capital letters) no one used "you guys;" they used "you all." In my family, Dad used "y'all" and sometimes "all y'all," (no "of" ever). He was full of colorful expressions, but the one that really makes me think of him is "I feel like I've been rode hard and put away wet." Mom usually called a torrential rain "a frog strangler." The big controversy I remember is "catty corner" versus "kitty corner." Odd how when one grows up with a regional variant, all others sound off.

    Redundancies tend to irritate me, but "all y'all" just sounds like home.

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  28. "Atlanta" said everything I popped in to say, so I am just chiming in to say, "Yes, ma'am!" As a Californian who spent a good bit of time in Atlanta, I guess it's not surprising that I agree with her; I learned a lot of my Southernisms from Atlantans. Also, from the days when I was talking on the phone as part of my job with people all over the country. I'd begin each call sounding like my Southern Cal self, but by the end of a call with someone from Lexington or Raleigh I'd be fixin' to help them as quickly as I could. I didn't mean to, but their accents were irresistible; my hope was always that I didn't sound as if I was mocking them--if anything, it was homage, I swear!

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  29. See, and I thought it was all y'all. Not all of y'all.

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  30. Exactly. Y’all and all y’all. That dog don’t hunt. I fixed you some tea, darlin’. And of course, bless your heart.

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  31. Definitely Ya'll from this Texan now deep in Arkansas. My biggest mystery is how I raised two boys with perfect diction... neither use any slang or southernisms!!!

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  32. Congrats on the new book and y’all is definitely part of everyone’s speech in Georgia

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