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Friday for you, Thursday for me

As I suggested in a tweet yesterday, don’t bother whining about your schedule to someone who has worked Saturday nights for the past thirty years. But today is a good day to catch up with some items before your weekend.

Item: It’s good to see @romenesko tweeting about events in journalism. It is particularly striking to contrast his compact tweeted summary with the wordiness of Poynter’s MediaWire. (You don’t have to sign up for Twitter to read his tweets; a simple search will discover them.) One also looks forward to his forthcoming blog at jimromenesko.com.

So far as I can tell, Poynter has not apologized publicly for the clumsy manner in which it forced him out. But then, I’m not visiting there as much as I did formerly.

Item: I knew I’d heard people use y’all as a singular, had even been addressed as such myself. But no, everyone said, y’all is always a plural, and it’s only damnyankees who get it wrong. But yesterday Stan Carey, that lovely man, quoted the linguist David Crystal on his first hearing—note that first—of y’all in the singular.

“When this first happened to me, in Texas in the 1960s, I was completely taken by surprise. As I entered a store, the assistant greeted me with a Howdy, y'all, and I actually looked round to see who else had come into the store with me. But there was only me there. And as I left he said Y'all take care now.”

Hah!

Item: Jan Freeman, writing at Throw Grammar from the Train, investigates the origin of the term stocking stuffer—it’s fairly recent—and agrees with me that PNC Bank’s annual story on the cost of the gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is idiotic. And yet, so deaf are some to the murmurs of sweet reason, one of her readers commented to accuse me of “thought policing.”

Oh, if I had a badge ...

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 10:55 AM | | Comments (7)
        

Comments

"Howdy, y'all" addressed to one person clanks off my ear. But "Y'all take care now" doesn't bother me as much, perhaps because I am willing to let this "y'all" stand in for "you and yours."

I agree that " y'all," like "you," functions both as plural and singular, which simplifies the possesive construction "y'all's." Because "y'alls'" just looks wierd. (I have, however, heard the plural possessive pronounced "y'allz-ez.")


Intuitively, one would think that the term "y'all" would apply exclusively to an addressed GROUP of folk; the obvious determinant clue being the word "all"---a collectivity of individuals, not a singular individual.

But as you, Prof. McI., (w/ your quoted anecdote from linguist David Crystal, to boot), have noted from your own personal experience, indeed, on rare occasions, "y'all" can be directed to a singular person. ("Y'all come back now, real soon.")

Am I hallucinating , or is there a kindred conversational 'address' in hipster/ street Brooklyn-ese, or New Jersey-ese, namely "youse all"? I could have sworn I heard such on either "Jersey Shore", or "Real House Wives of New Jersey". Not that I'm a watcher, or fan of either of these slease-ball, low-lifes-trying-to-play-high-life-wannabes 'reality' freak shows. (Maybe "youse all" is a working-class-to-nouveau-riche Italian-American thingy?)

Although not directly related to the mainly, (yet not exclusive), Southern linguistic affectation, "y'all', I'm curious about the hip-hop/ urban street-inspired term "all dat' (translated: all that), as in, "Hey bro, that dude may be fly, but let's get real......... he ain't really 'all dat'. Dig?"

Why am I suddenly conjuring up the ancient Broadway hit musical, "Westside Story" ?
(Those hip, finger-snapping gangster-dudes weren't even Italian-Americans. HA!)

ALEX

I was recently told, by several people, that the plural of "y'all" is "all y'all."

Those without Twitter accounts don't need to even search for his Twitter postings. Just type in this URL: twitter.com/romenesko

I've been in San Antonio, TX for the past 20+ years and "y'all" is used here both as a plural and a singular pronoun (even by TV news people). I don't say "y'all" myself, having moved here from California by way of NH and Iowa, but my son who was born here does. It still sounds "hick" to me.

Please go back to Stan's post and read my comments there. Singular y'all does exist, but only when the single person represents a group, however small. "All (of) y'all" is simply the y'all-dialect version of "all of you".

As for Crystal's anecdote, I simply do not believe it: it has been shown before that he is not above "improving" a story.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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