What follows is a piece I posted some years ago in a former blog that I no longer maintain. It’s worthy of re-publishing in this more current venue, especially since I’m overdue for an update and I don’t have time to crank out fresh material.
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?” I experienced that quite a bit earlier this summer .
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.
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?