Sunday, October 17, 2010

In Ya'll's Defense

The only thing that belies my "Mid-Atlantic accent" is the presence of the occasional ya’ll in my vocabulary. OK, it’s not so occasional. I use it all the time. I can’t help it. It’s the last remaining vestige of my Southern heritage, that and my penchant for the 3 P’s of Southern ladies: pearls, pies, and Polo. I’ve forgotten 90% of my Southern euphemisms and living with ESL students has washed out any traces of a Southern drawl, heck I’ve even nearly given-up sweet iced tea *gasp*! But ya'll remains.

Ya’ll is one of the most useful words in the English language (or that SHOULD be in the English language). English is full of absurd rules and exceptions to the rule, and the absence of the second person plural is one of them. How are you supposed to address a group of people in general?  “Are you coming with me?” is just not clear. Who do you mean? One of us? Two of us? Three of us? That’s where ya’ll comes in handy. “Are ya’ll coming with me?” Or if you want to emphasize it even more, “Are all ya’ll coming with me?” You can even use the possessive if you want, “Bring ya’ll’s dishes when you come.”

Some parts of Southern slang, I admit do seem to imply a lack of education or a certain degree of redneck-ness. I remember answering phone calls from a congressman from Southern Virginia who Ben worked for in college who always managed to make his name three times as long, “Is Be—ee—en thar?” I always wanted to say, “Seriously. How on earth did you get elected?” Just as not everybody cares for goobers and grits, I get that the Southern drawl is not as appealing to everyone, and sometimes is just downright confusing, like when the mechanic says, “Your car needs more all.” What the heck is ‘all’? Or when people pronounce “fire” and “far” like homonyms.

But there are also times when the well-used diction of our heritage is endearing. There is something comforting about hearing your name pronounced with two syllables, “Ee-em” or being called “Sweetie Pie“ or  “Darlin“ by complete strangers, and while there are some parts of Southern slang which should be buried under a mess of kudzu or are best reserved for the smoky diner where they originated, ya’ll on the other hand is a perfectly good word and there’s no use tossin it to the wind. As our wrappin-paper savin mamas would say, “Suga, don’t go throwin away nothin you caint use agin” (Just kidding, my mom doesn’t talk like that).

Anyways, I reckon it’s worth keeping. Ya’ll got a problem with that?

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