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Spelling Debate, Y'All

Spelling Debate, Y'All

By Miss Marm

Today, my fellow editors and I had a heated discussion about the correct spelling of "y'all." (Side note: I have no problem with "y'all," "youse," "you guys," etc. Most languages have separate words for the singular and plural form of "you"; English doesn't, and it feels weird, so we make regional ad hoc versions.)

One editor said he spells it "ya'll." He's from the South, so I'm inclined to respect his opinion. On the other hand, this is the same guy who mentioned "crispie crème" donuts in an email today (leading Emily to exclaim, "It's Krispiey Kreme!!!!!!!!!" [yes, these are the important issues we're working on all day at SparkNotes]).

Andrew sent along this post, in which a Southern gent claims:

The word ya'll isn't a contraction of the words "you all" as many people think. It is a word of other distinct origin, indigenous to the rural South: ye aw.

To which I said O_o

When in doubt, I turn to one of my favorite books in the entire world: Garner's Modern American Usage. Grammar nerds, if you don't yet own this book, put it on your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa list.

Let's see what Mr. Garner has to say, shall we?

This sturdy Southernism is most logically y'all, not ya'll. Only the you of you all is contracted. And in modern print sources, y'all is ten times as common.

Andrew's reaction:

I'm the one from the South, people! It's slang; there are no rules! It's ya'll because that's how a lot of people spell it where I come from (and we don't have Krispiey Kreme's down there, for the record).

Sparklers, I (and Mr. Garner) am obviously right—right?

Do you say "y'all"? How do you spell it? Or are you more partial to "youse," "you guys," or even "yousen"??

And who else is craving a Krispiey Kreme? [Oh my lord. Thank you, everyone, for catching this egregious mistake. *blushes*]

Topics: donuts, vs., contractions, plural forms

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