Southern Translation

Ted Staton tstaton at
Thu Oct 15 07:44:17 EDT 1998

Good audition.  I have lived my 54 yrs in the South (mostly) and note that
"gentlemen" are very careful when inviting one woman to come to visit - if he is
being immoral in his intent, he says, "You drop over sometime".  If he is being
proper and moral he says, "Y'all come to see us now, you hear?"  This latter
includes the spouse/ father / brother / children etc and does not imply an
invitation to come alone for some hanky-panky. I don't think the word is out to
Hollywood on this distinction.

Sherrie Sanders wrote:

> Christopher,
> >I think that "y'all" as a 2nd person singular is a Yankee
> >misperception of traditional Southern speech.  When Southerners say
> >"y'all," they usually (always?) intend the plural force. That is, if I
> >ask, "How are y'all doin' today?" I am addressing a group.  If I say
> >it to you when we are the only two in the room, then I am asking about
> >your family.
> I am a real live GRIT (Girl Raised In The South), so I certainly agree with
> you here! I watched a movie once (obviously written by those Northern kind
> of folk, and they had the characters all using y'all as 2 person singular.
> It just about drove me batty! Never in my life had I heard it used that way
> until last week when I was greeting my students as they came to school. The
> father of one little boy told me as he was leaving (I was the only one
> around, mind you), "Y'all have a good day." I immediately thought how odd
> that was and began to analyze whether he may have intended the comment to be
> for only me, or for the staff in general. Hmmm....still I ponder....
> >Likewise, if you visit a Southerner, it will be perfectly normal when
> >you depart to hear, "You come back, now, y'hear?" if you are visiting
> >by yourself, or "Y'all come back," if you are in a group.  OTOH, if
> >you visit alone, and hear, "Y'all come," then you are invited to bring
> >your family next time you visit.  Similarly, "Do y'all like
> >cucumbers?" means, "Will you and/or anybody at your house eat these if
> >I pick 'em for you right now?"
> You're exactly right!
> >Or maybe that's just the way we talked in Tennessee and Alabama and
> >Texas.  Maybe in North Carolina, y'all talk funny.
> I hope the talkin' isn't too funny--my parents are about to move there and
> I'd hate for Daddy to lose that South Carolina accent.
> Allison (who eats grits, says "y'all", and can easily add syllables to
> words.)
> ---
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