8 Comments

  1. English does not currently have a widely accepted second plural. Y’all, youse, and yinz are all regional contenders (although some would say “y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural). Zach is just pointing out that should there ever be a serious attempt to normalize the second plural, it would inevitably escalate to open warfare…and he thinks y’all would win.

  2. I don’t think it’s so much debated, as it’s more of a case of cultures clashing and overtaking other cultures without actually meaning to.

    For example, someone might look down on the usages of “nope” and “yup” as the speech of less-educated folk, but will use them anyway without realizing it.

    That’s culture encroachment for you!

    (And in the cartoon, a victory is a victory’s even if it’s through encroachment.)

  3. “Singular y’all” is intriguing. In most places and circumstances, “y’all” is plural, and “all y’all” is universal inclusive plural — “y’all” can refer to a subset of the people being addressed, while “all y’all” specifically means the entire group being addressed without exception.

    However, the second person plural creep that overtook “thou” apparently didn’t stop. “You” became a respectful form of address, to the point that “thou” eventually became disrespectful, then fell away. And in Atlanta and some parts of Texas, “y’all” appears to have started to undergo the same process, necessitating “all y’all” to be repurposed as a plural.

  4. I can anticipate an environment in which people who have adopted y’all get told it can only be used by those who grew up with it. That would be a likely real battle.

    However, I don’t see that as Zach’s idea. As dvandom explains, what seems portrayed here is more directly a contest between the different forms that have strong support; and winning is seen as getting everyone to accept and use your preferred form. The winner here is shown as y’all, and a struggling holdout loser is the youse seen in the bonus panel.

  5. Right, it will be banned as a form of appropriation: as though committing mockery or “southern-face”.

  6. That’s one of the questions typical to dialect quizzes. It’s the article headline for the NY Times version:

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