If you went one county north of me, you would hear a more Midwestern sound. Go one county south of me and you would hear more of a country, southern sound. These variations also happened between towns to the more rural areas. I was a town kid living more to the north, so I didn't have much of an accent. Well, we all have an accent one way or another, but I sounded more like a news anchor than Ellie Mae Clampett. People have often been surprised when I tell them that I'm from WV. They think I should have much more of a southern drawl.
|Edgewater Beach Resort. This is where I first learned about my You all.|
One evening, Gary, one of the owner's sons, said that I had a very southern accent. He said, "You talk like this," with very drawn out twangy words. Very southern. He also said that I said, "You all." Well, I guess I did sound kind of southern to someone who lived much further north than I did. But I had never noticed that I said you all. I learned in English class that you could be both singular and plural and that's the way I wrote it. I thought I talked that way also. I knew I didn't say the southern contraction Y'all, but I hadn't realize that I said a form of it.
That summer, I tried to stop saying you all and use you for both singular and plural like I thought I was already doing. And I couldn't do it. If a group of people were standing around and I said, "Do you want to go to the movies?" I would wait for a minute and then had to add all so my meaning was clear, "Do you all want to go to the movies?" Without the all I was afraid that they wouldn't understand that I was inviting all of them. That's when I figured out that in my world you is singular and you all is plural.
And that's how it's been ever since. Just like it was before. You is singular and you all is plural.
What do you say? You, you all, y'all, youins, ...