Want to turn heads in a small college town in Northern California? Go into the local Starbucks and ask the attendants, “How are y’all?”
The user of that contracted form of “you all” attains immediate recognition as one not from those parts, followed by the inevitable “Where are you from?” As a native Southerner, I experienced that reaction quite a bit in travels to other parts of the land.

So the question arises, especially for one rhetorically and poetically inclined in the profession of letters, “Is ‘y’all’ a legitimate word?” I’ve never thought of it as otherwise, but then again, I was raised in the Deep South.

Thus, I was gratified, at least according to one source, Wikipedia, that the word conforms to an acknowledged standard spelling (“y’all” as opposed to the incorrect “ya’ll“) and even an acknowledged possessive form: “y’all’s.” I was pleased to discover such linguistic acceptance., for like many Southerners, I feel compelled to be defensive about our speech and our usage because some non-Southerners judge our regional vernacular as sub-standard. They often base that judgment solely on our accent, even when we otherwise follow conventional usage standards for formal English.


Admittedly, Wikipedia consigns “y’all” to informal as opposed to formal usage situations. But I can live with that. I’m just pleased that credible sources accept and acknowledge our regional linguistic values and tradtions.

Now the next question: Why is the way we speak seemingly more important to Southerners than to other Americans? That’s a good question for a future blogservation. Maybe someone will have opinion and offer a post.

So what do y’all think about that?

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