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Dublin sayings: Y'all and yous

The use of the word 'you' deserves a special page and I thank Chris O'Dania for his great contribution to cultural understanding! Firstly, let Chris explain the use of that word in Texas, USA:

(By the way, the slower talking West Texans usually say "You all," leaving "Y'all" to faster talkers.) Examples:

1. Peter and John are talking. No one else is listening:

  • Peter asks, "How are you doing?" John replies for himself only ("I'm fine, thanks.")
  • Peter asks, "How are you all/y'all doing?" John replies for himself, as well as for the rest of his family ("I'm fine, but my wife has the flu and the kids both have measles.")
  • ALSO: John asks "How do you all/y'all pronounce 'S-E-A-N'?" The "you all" here refers to Peter and other Irish people in general.

2. Peter is talking to John and John's entire family:

  • Peter looks at John and asks, "How are you doing?" John replies for
  • himself only.
  • Peter glances around and asks, "How are you all/y'all doing"? He expects
  • either a chorus of answers, or one person answering for all ("We're fine, thanks.")

3. Peter and Catherine are talking to John and Sue:

  • Peter looks at Sue and asks, "Are you over the flu?" Sue replies, "I sure hope so."
  • Peter looks at John and Sue and asks, "Where are you all going on your vacation?" Either John or Sue answers, "We're going to Dublin!"
  • John looks at Peter and Catherine and asks, "Well, where are you all going this year?" Either Peter or Catherine answers, "We're going back to Texas, of course!"
  • This speech form is deeply ingrained. My H.S. Spanish teacher would ask questions such as, "What is the 'y'all' form of 'hablar' in the present indicative?" ("Uds. hablan." [The "you" form would be "tu hablas.]")
  • Seemed normal to us! Note:
  • "Y'all all" -- means "you all/y'all. The extra "all" is just an emphatic redundancy. As in, "We want y'all to come back, not just some of you, but ALL of you." (Chris O'Dania)

Irish, Philly/NYC and English use of 'you' (1.05.10)

Dubliners will typically distinguish the plural by specifying "Yous". This often transforms to "yez/yiz" in usage such as "Yez are a bunch of big girls' blouses" =you are a group of effeminate men! Chris observes that the use of the word 'you' creates problems and that different countries and regions have devised ways to overcome it. In the Irish countryside the older generation will still use 'ye' as the old plural construction of 'you' as in "Well look at ye!"

Rachel from Philadelphia, USA tells me the following - many thanks indeed: "The pluralized version of "you" is used frequently in the Philadelphia and New York County metro areas as well. I didn't know anyone else said it as we often get teased for it by ANYONE not from our area of the US! We take it a step further by combining it with "guys" as in "What are yous guys doin' tonight?" AND, that being said, "guys" is not gender specific when used in that manner.

In the north of England the constructions 'thou' [= 'you' singular] and 'thee' [='you' plural] are still used by the older generation (although not in Ireland to my knowledge).


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USA word use: Y'all and you all

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