Y’all talk funny

Is it a yard, garage, rummage, tag or jumble sale? You can link to dialect maps here.

Like Andrew Sullivan, I score as slightly Southern. He’s a Brit; I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. Who knows?

In second grade, Miss Bletsch told us that Midwesterners speak perfect American English. Everyone else is a little peculiar. We did talk about marry, merry and Mary, creek vs. crick and the pronunciation of root and roof. (“Root” rhymes with “foot,” OK?)

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  1. Steve LaBonne says:

    As one brought up in the Noo Yawk suburbs, I’ll let you mispronounce “roof” and “root” as long as you agree that one stands _on_ line at the store. Deal?

  2. Independent George says:

    Actually, I believe that y’all is singular, and all y’all is plural.

  3. and the possessive is yalls’s, or sometimes yalls’s’s (pronounced YALL-ziz-ziz, as in:
    “is that y’alls’s’s truck outside?”)

  4. IG: “y’all is singular”

    No. It’s a second person plural, formed from the contraction of ‘you all’. In German, it’s ‘Ihr’.

    “All y’all” is in fact an intensive form (every single one of you) of y’all: “All y’all get in here this minute!”

    (Fifth+ generation Cracker)

  5. Looking at this site I was most amazed at how few categories there were where there was a truly distinctive use of a word or phrase that was localized to one part of the country or another. The use of words seems to have spread pretty well across this country.

  6. Bill Leonard says:

    I am not at all surprised that so few distinctive words or phrases seem to relate to one part of the country or another. Remember, we’ve had ubiquitous, national network television homogenizing language and dialect since at least the mid-50s. That being the case, I would be surprised if anyone under about 35 didn’t sound pretty much like everyone else that age.

    Rather more interesting would be a test that includes words and phrases that older folk (I’m 60) grew up with and may still use. To wit: do you refer to that kitchen appliance as a refrigerator, fridge, or ice box? Do you call that small piece of luggage a valise, a generic bag, an overnight bag, or a grip? Do you ladies refer to that item you carry as your handbag, your purse, or your pocketbook.

    And like that.

  7. Doug in VA says:

    Hey, y’all – Chris is right about y’all, at least in all the parts of the south I have lived in these many decades. Hollywood does use it as a singular pronoun, unfortunately.

  8. Absolutely, Cris is right about “y’all”.

    If I looked at my sister-in-law and asked, “Are y’all coming to dinner?” she would know that I meant her and her family. It’s a very useful word.

  9. Grrrrr!

    Now I’ll spend about three hours studying those maps.

    Grinder, tag sale, soda, water fountain, wastepaper

  10. Roy W. Wright says:

    “Root” and “foot” do not rhyme. And “online” is irritating. So there.

  11. Roy:

    “On line” is irritating, but “putting the baby down” is downright creepy–they “put down” injured horses, don’t they?

  12. Devilbunny says:

    You know, the maps would be quite a bit more useful if

    1) they categorized people by where they grew up, not where they live now

    2) they were weighted by total number of responses from a given area.

    In almost every map, there’s a blob over New York and a stardust pattern across the non-Great Lakes Midwest and South, because that’s the general pattern of total responses. Nifty, but could be a lot better.

    (And standing on line is done only when you’re toeing the paint at the edge of a sports field.)

  13. What I find odd is that persons from Eastern Kentucky tend to pronounce single syllable words using two. The words seem mostly to rhyme with bed (bay’- uhd). I used to be under the impression that dropping the ‘g’ on all gerunds was unique to the South, but it seems quite widespread…

    Heh! I just noticed that the post tag line says

    Posted by [name] AT [date], [time]

    I would say one posts AT a [time] and ON a [date].

  14. Roy W. Wright says:

    …”putting the baby down” is downright creepy…

    Ohhh yeah, I can definitely agree with that.

  15. I went to the site to check out “jumble” (very surprised that it is used by anyone in the US) and noticed that you had to choose between yard sale and garage sale. Growing up in Michigan, I’ve always understood those as two related but different things, sorted by location — garage sales take place in the garage or on the driveway, yard sales on the grass of your yard. (Mind you, the terms are sometimes used interchangably, but in much the same informal sense that you might refer to your SUV as a car.)

    For that matter, the term rummage sale is also commonly used, but refers specifically to the sort of sale where many people have brough items to sell, and the profits are probably going to charity — the standard example is the church rummage sale. And sidewalk sales are the heavily discounted sales of unwanted merchandise by stores on the sidewalk in front of the store.

  16. I put my daughter down for her naps for several years with no ill effects.

    Seriously, this stuff is pretty well studied regardless of whether this particular site is any good or not. Regional dialect is a popular research subject for linguists.

    Of course, I drink tonic, not Coke, and think a milkshake is shook up milk. I also know that the second person plural is y’oungs and that the proper term for white trash is hoosier.

  17. I was disappointed that one item missing from the survey was the “cha” conjugation of verbs, which appears to be a form of the imperative. It is still alive and well in New York and its surrounds. Common usages include: getcha feet off the table, putcha backpack away, watcha language around the kids. I also saw no mention of the second person plural “yous,” which I normally remember only hearing in the context of “yous guys.” 🙂

  18. I saw “yous” in the list of second person plurals. Another problem with the maps is that it doesn’t distinguish racial groups — this was very apparent with the word “aunt,” which in many parts of the country is pronounced differently depending on if you are black or white.

  19. what I found odd is that I always thought calling one’s maternal grandmother mimi was odd–and it does turn out to be rare, but here’s the weird thing–I’ve got relatives under most of the dots that answer than question on the survey