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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

grits y'all 2

With the “grits” segment having coarsely ground its corny way to somewhat of a mushy conclusion, I will now take up the “y’all” part. After much research and from many sources, it is supposed and generally concluded that this is a contraction of you and all. A small amount of this is taken from sources on the web. Y’all is the best way to address two or more people, it sounds better than youse guys and is more vocally efficient as well. It is a bit like a note of music in a southern conversation.

Let me restate that in most of the south y’all is plural. That is, unless someone is intentionally misusing it for effect. The problem is, lots of folks have intentionally misused it, from the makers of movies and television shows with exaggerated southern characters – most often for ridicule – to the writers of those little books in the souvenir shops with titles like “Advice for Yankees Moving South”. These books would have you believe that y’all is singular, all y’all is plural and all y’all’s is plural possessive. The last two in that sentence actually would be correct in certain usages.

Being born and raised in the south, I was somewhat surprised by the many different American dialects I heard when I joined the army and traveled around the country a bit. I did learn to understand most of these folks and could even be understood by a lot of them. I strived to drop a lot of my southern drawl in my effort to be understood – not exactly a credit to my southern heritage.

The southern drawl is not something one learns in classes or goes to college for but it is more like something that creeps into the brain over the years. I’ve even known some northerners that moved south and actually started to sound like a native – 15 to 20 years later. The southern drawl has been known to drive folks from other parts of the country to distraction – and maybe even to envy.

In my army days I was known to drop into or out of a southern drawl, especially if I thought it would impress a young lady. And if I dropped into one, it would be one so heavy and slow that it would be like pouring molasses outside on a cold day – it gave me more time to think about what to say next. I could drop into a drawl as quick as a curious child could fall into a freshly dug septic tank hole.

This reminds me of the French girl with the southern drawl. The year was about 1961 and I had been sent to a town to the south of Paris on temporary duty to learn about a special piece of equipment and how to maintain it. This was in a fairly small town and there was a laundry close by that most of the local US soldiers used to keep their clothes clean and pressed. I took some clothes in one day and was almost floored that not only did this girl speak English; she spoke it with a southern accent.

It seems that she learned English from her southern boyfriend and it had the effect of making me very homesick. I had already been in that foreign land for about a year without hearing a sweet southern girl drawl to me. Y’all is one of the cornerstones of what is known in some circles as Southern American English. All y’all need Jesus; He died to forgive all y’all’s sins – if you just ask. ec

7 Comments:

Blogger Granny said...

I'm a New Yorker transplanted to California years ago. However, I spent ten years in TN and AR durng the late 60's and 70's. My older son was born in Memphis and the younger in Jonesboro.

I've "met" online friends from the Arkansas town. When a couple of them called me, they said I still have a trace of the Arkansas accent I certainly wasn't born with.

It does seep in somehow; if not in the actual accent, in the expressions we pick up. I can say y'all with the best of them.

Funny about Arkansas and the south though. We went into a restaurant in AR and asked for grits with our breakfast (of course). We were told that we were a little far north for grits. Huh??

12/13/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger ancient one said...

Well, I say "Y'all", and I'm speaking to more than one person or meaning the whole family if only one person is present. I have lived in south/east NC all my life. When my daughter moved to the mountains, some neighbor children told my grandchildren that they were not even speaking American, and those children had that mountain accent...LOL We had to listen closely to understand them!! LOL

12/13/2007 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

granny - Sometimes a southern boy just has to take his grits with him - uncooked, of course. :)

ancient one - Before I got married - eons ago - I dated a girl from rural Kentucky. She was a bit hard to understand but I'm sure I was to her as well. But then talking is not necessary all the time. :) ec

12/17/2007 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

I don't even spell ya'll right but I use it a lot. :-)

I was exposed to various dialects growing up as an AF brat and I'm proud to say that I can almost always pick out the state/area/country from listening to an accent.

12/20/2007 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Have a Merry Christmas, Mr. E! Are you doing OK? I’ve not seen you around in more than a week.

May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door, and happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Christmas. (A Celtic toast)

12/24/2007 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger ancient one said...

Merry Christmas "Y'all!" Hope the whole family has a very Good Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!!

12/24/2007 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

brenda - I can almost do the same thing and it was because of my time in the Army. Oddly enough, some of the deep south accents were harder to understand than others. :)

SSN - Thanks much for your concern, I have been ailing but am feeling much better now. We had a great Christmas, hope you did as well.

ancient one - Thanks much!! The Christmas was great and through eyes of faith, the New Year will be a good one as well. I hope your New Year is as good as I am expecting ours to be. ec

12/25/2007 11:43:00 PM  

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