Do you text with a southern accent? 9 things you may not know about the word y’all

1. The proper spelling is y’all not ya’ll

Ask Siri, she’ll tell you. Even autocorrect adds the apostrophe in the correct spot.

2. Georgia mispelled y’all on a billboard

Another History Blog notes that a billboard on the highway leaving Georgia had the message, “Ya’ll come back to see us.” Copywriter had to say, “oops, y’all.”

3. It’s the first question in the New York Times popular dialect quiz

Have you taken the New York Times dialect quiz? It’s a few years old, but it was their most popular article in 2013. Each question results in a heat map of the country where your response identifies the most. The first question is “How would you address a group of two or more people?”

If you’re from the South, the answer is obviously Y’ALL, y’all, and the heat map turns red from Texas to the southern east coast.

4. The New York Times printed y’all the first time in 1886

The New York Times article, “Odd Southernisms” appeared on February 23, 1886 and the writer notes,”‘You all,’ or, as it should be abbreviated, y’all,’ is one of the most ridiculous of all the Southernisms I can call to mind.”

RUDE. I think we can all agree this writer did not have a taste for sweet tea, pleasant sunshine, or manners.

5. Amazon has 16,061 products featuring y’all

Y’all T-shirts, welcome y’all doormats, and more can be yours from Amazon.

6. Some dialect historians (yes, apparently it’s a thing) debate the word came from Scotland.

DialectBlog.com mentions a linguist by the name of Michael Montgomery who argues the word is derived from ye aw, a Scottish term. If you’ve ever read the Outlander series, you’ll know Jamie and Claire and the gang from Scotland end up in North Carolina, which is based on historical fact. Highland Scots came to the United States and settled in North Carolina in the 18th century. Scottish heritage is strong in NC, which is why the Scottish Games attract 30,000 people to Grandfather Mountain in NC each year.

7. Dictionary.com cites the phrase you all as it’s origin

by 1879, U.S. dialect abbreviation of you all (see you). Children learn from the slaves some odd phrases… as … will you all do this? for, will one of youdo this? [“Arthur Singleton” (Henry C. Knight),”Letters from the South and West,” 1824]

8. The dictionary defines y’all as a contraction of you-all.

I always assumed y’all is a contraction of you all. The English Oxford Dictionary agrees.

Grammar refresher: contraction is the smooshing of two words using an apostrophe.

9. You’re not the only reader curious about the word y’all

Merriam-Webster definition page has more than 200 comments about the word.

 

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