Thursday, September 03, 2015

Tout le monde - or as we say down here - "all y'all"

I was entertained earlier this week by this piece at Salon:

The secret history of “Y’all”: The murky origins of a legendary Southern slang word,
The phrase "y'all" might not simply be the shortened form of "you all" — but something far more complex
by Cameron Hunt McNabb.

Comments following the piece brought several chuckles-out-loud from yours truly, especially when it came to plurals and possessives.

I enjoy "y'all" - don't actually say it out loud, but often find myself writing it in these posts. "Y'all" and "kind of" and "guy"/"guys" are, I think, the only bits of American-speak I've adopted so far. I used to find myself adopting local expressions and inflections quite easily during my wander around Britain in the 1960s and early 1970s. I suppose because, back then, due to my work I had to converse quite a lot in real life. Now I don't. I rattle around on the keyboard more than rattling my tongue around my teeth.

I just love it when I hear "y'all", "all y'all" and derivatives of that. It feels warm and comfortable to me. All the chit-chat about formal and informal "you" is for school-rooms. Real people say what they feel like saying. In Yorkshire, decades ago, my grandparents would very often use the old "thou" instead of "you"(but pronounced "thoo" or "tha").

Wikipedia has a version of a rather mean stereotypical old rhyme about Yorkshire folk:

'Ear all, see all, say nowt;
Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt;
And if ivver tha does owt fer nowt –
Allus do it fer thissen.

Being translated: Hear everything, see everything, say nothing. Eat everything, drink everything, pay nothing. And if ever you do anything for nothing, always do it for yourself.

Not good advice to live by, y'all!


JD said...

ha ha!
Love it- reminds me of when I worked for a well known company from Louisiana ( Lousy-anna?) I heard one of my colleagues say to his daughter "put the glass on the table beside y'all"
I just love the wonderful, colourful and flexible way people use language :)

And another one from Yorkshire - I once heard Harvey Smith say "Yorkshire born, Yorkshire bred; strong in the arm and thick in the head!"

mike said...

I'm glad you translated the Yorkshireman's motto, as I'd not have put it together on my own!

Southern slang and accents are inherent to my neck of the woods, but not as prevalent as in the more eastern Gulf states, and the Southeast in general. The colloquialisms can be charming, but only if a true Southerner is espousing the dialect. I dislike it immensely from non-Southerners that have acquired the methodology. An acquaintance was born in Dallas, TX, and the family relocated to their native Midwest almost immediately afterward, but he managed to develop a Southern accent befitting his nativity...all I can figure is that the "Dallas" TV show was popular when he was a preteen and he saw a benefit.

I've lived in almost all of the USA's regions and I can definitely say that Southerners appear friendlier...more smiles and eye contact here. However, these overt gestures should not be mistaken for true compadre warmth. Most of the natives here are nosier, gossip more, and draw their own aberrant conclusions, all under the guise of friendly chit-chat, compared to the less friendly parts of the nation where anonymity reigns. A neighbor that has lived here for the past thirty of her seventy years advised that if a Southerner offends another by something said, they will apologize only for having offended that person, and not for the offensive words...I've found that to be true...LOL. Another oddity here is some of my Southern neighbors or acquaintances that I only see once every two or three months will inevitably say that they were just thinking about me and they had just said to their spouse that they needed to have me over for dinner soon...or that they had a big party (or BBQ) last week and, dang, they forgot to invite time! I'd just as soon they DIDN'T say that time after time.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - This is beyond the scope of your post, but there are many ways to define "Southern" and various regions have their own peculiar slang and dialect: a state in the Confederate Union, below the Mason-Dixon line (a Dixie state), secession state, antebellum state, a state that underwent Reconstruction.

"The Old South: can mean either the slave states that existed in 1776 (Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina),; or all the slave states before 1860 (which included the newer states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas).
The New South: usually including the South Atlantic States.
The Solid South: region largely controlled by the Democratic Party from 1877 to 1964, especially after disfranchisement of most blacks at the turn of the 20th century. Before that, blacks were elected to national office and many to local office through the 1880s; Populist-Republican coalitions gained victories for Fusionist candidates for governors in the 1890s. Includes at least all the 11 former Confederate States.[26]
Southern Appalachia: mainly refers to areas situated in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, namely Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Western Maryland, West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, North Georgia, and Northwestern South Carolina.
Southeastern United States: usually including the Carolinas, the Virginias, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and at times Maryland and Delaware.
The Deep South: various definitions, usually including Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. Occasionally, parts of adjoining states are included (sections of East Texas, the Mississippi embayment areas of Arkansas and Tennessee, and northern and central Florida).
The Gulf South: various definitions, usually including Gulf coasts of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.
The Upper South: Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and occasionally Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware.
Dixie: various definitions, but most commonly associated with the 11 states of the Old Confederacy.
The Mid-South: Various definitions, including that of the Census Bureau of the East and West South Central United States;[30] in another informal definition, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and sometimes adjoining areas of other states.
Border South: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware were states on the outer rim of the Confederacy that did not secede from the United States, but did have significant numbers of residents who joined the Confederate armed forces. Kentucky and Missouri had Confederate governments in exile and were represented in the Confederate Congress and by stars on the Confederate battle flag. West Virginia was formed in 1863 after the western region of Virginia broke away to protest the Old Dominion's joining of the Confederacy, but residents of the new state were about evenly divided on supporting the Union or the Confederacy."

Twilight said...

JD ~ Yes, me too - love listening to different dialects, accents & expressions of ordinary people.

LOL! Yorkshire folk have gathered a bad reputation, not sure how - but I suspect it's a left-over from the Wars of the Roses - Yorks v. Lancs and all that. Together with the fact that Yorkshire is the country's biggest and most varied county - other counties don't like feeling small. ;-)

Twilight said...

mike & (again) ~ My husband tells me that when he moved into Oklahoma from Kansas, many decades ago, he immediately found a difference in the people - far more friendly he said. I've heard, or read, others who agree with your view that the easy friendliness is superficial only. I can't say, from personal experience, but don't like to think that. Maybe one needs to be part of their "grouping" (church, club, team etc) to receive a continuing warmth?

Thanks for the detail of how "south" can be defined in the USA. So far we haven't travelled in the traditional "deep south". The Texas Big Bend area is the most southerly point we've reached. Monroe in northern Louisiana the only place in traditionally southern states we've visited. Heat and humidity preclude further exploration in that direction for this northerner.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Your post reminds me of why my husband and I turn on subtitles whenever we watch movies, even when the actors are speaking English. Before we had the idea to use them, we missed a lot of dialogue!

mike (again) said...

LB - I agree. I always use subtitles and closed-caption. I'm deaf in one ear and ringing in both, but my inability to hear is typically only a problem when there is extraneous noise. Too often in the movies I watch, there is sub-audio whispering that goes right over me, so the captioning is required. Also, some of the newer movies include the music in the background, either the title of the song or the actual words sang. I watched "A Single Man" recently (very good movie BTW) and it was in English with captioning, but there were two or three minutes of Spanish dialogue that were NOT captioned for some reason and I'd like to have known what was discussed. I've become aware that some captioning, particularly in foreign films in English language, usually British, does not match the actual spoken English...or it's like the Yorkshireman's motto and the captioning reflects interpretation, too...LOL.

Sonny G said...

its good to know that all my Ya'lling wasn't looked down on:) I type just like I talk so if ya listen close you can hear a strong " Mayberry" accent lol..

actually Mayberry is Mt Airy nc and mt pilot is Pilot Mtn NC.. the andy griffeth show changed the names a but but the rest is quite accurate.

Ya'll can imagine the culture shock when at 11 years old I moved from Manhatten NY to Mt. Airy NC. For a long while I actually thought I was on another planet ..

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike ...

GEORGE ... (in perfect Spanish)
- Wow. You're really something. You have an incredible face. Enjoy that. It's a great gift.
CARLOS ... (in Spanish)
- Your Spanish is perfect.
GEORGE ... (in Spanish)
- Thanks. I should have used it more.
CARLOS ... (in Spanish)
- It's not too late.


Looking up at the sky, George stops and stares at it.

CARLOS ... (in Spanish)
- You know it's the smog that makes it that color.
GEORGE - I've never seen a sky like this before.
CARLOS ... (in Spanish)
- Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty.

George looks at Carlos, struck by his comment.


George stubs out his cigarette.

GEORGE -You have a smart mother. I've got to go.
CARLOS ... (in Spanish)
- You seem like all you really need is someone to like you. I'm a nice guy you know.


Twilight said...

LB ~ We do that too, whenever available. :-) When not available it comes down to: me to anyjazz: "What did she just say?" Or anyjazz to me "What did he say....why?"
What fun!

I'm reminded here of a very old radio show - older even than me! There was a catch phrase involved : "What did Horace say?"
This is the only example I could find on YouTube:

Mind you, I can barely understand any of it now!

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I've seen only a handful of "Mayberry" shows. Love to read your "y'alls" - don't ever change! :-)

Anonymous said...

Are you a proper Yorkshire lass like this one Twilight?


Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ Not quite like that little darlin' -! She has a West Riding of Yorkshire accent - possibly Leeds (I worked & lived there for 3 decades but don't think I picked up the Leeds accent). East Yorkshire's accent is hard to define - different in a lot of ways, more rural (apart from city of Hull - where I was born - their accent is, to my ears really, really bad, so I've tried to eliminate signs of it where I could).

I think I have a fairly bland and simply northern English accent - i.e. I don't say larst for last, or arsk for ask etc. I don't say mite for mate etc. as they do in the south.

LB said...

mike ~ We catch slight discrepancies in dialogue too, which is ironic if you think about it. Don't know why some movies/shows have subtitles while others don't; we struggle without them and my hearing is pretty good, thanks to my big ears.:0

Thanks for the movie recommendation. I'll put it on our list.


Twilight ~ That Youtube clip from the radio show (?) was sweet. There was a smile on my face as I listened.

Have you ever seen any of the "Bad Lip Reading" videos? The one of the GOP Debate was pretty clever. My favorite part was when each of the candidates sing a little something at the end:

Sometimes the links I copy don't work. You can always google it.

mike (again) said...

Kidd - Thanks! That non-interpreted scene bugged me...I wasn't sure if something VERY significant was exchanged between George and Carlos, and the scene lasted about five minutes. Their conversation was fitting, considering the direction of the film at that point. All of the cinematography was beautiful, but I remember the sunlight in the George-Carlos moment was particularly golden...I thought it was simply toward sunset, but I hadn't considered smog as the enhancer. I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed that your interpretation indicates their conversation as more pedestrian...I had hoped for some spicy dialogue (which would explain why it wasn't in the captioning)...LOL.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks - will watch that video in the morning - sounds as though it'll be good!

Twilight said...

mike ~ We watched "A Single Man" tonight. Liked it well enough - nice photography, well acted...a tad... erm arty farty if anything. ;-) Didn't think the scene with Carlos was very significant though - as he didn't appear afterwards in any later scene. Seemed like a throw away segment really, there just to emphasise George's state of mind at the time.

Anyjazz said immediately on hearing it that Julianne Moore's Brit. accent sounded fake - though I didn't find it too bad. He's used to hearing me, of course, must have blunted his ear somewhat. LOL!

mike (again) said...

When I read your comment regarding anyjazz' finding Moore's accent fake, I thought how can that be, she's British! I looked at her bio on Wiki and she's American as can be, other than having a Scottish mother! Anyjazz gets two bonus points.

I enjoyed the arty-farty-ness, particularly the detail in keeping to the 1964 look-and-feel of that era and the cinematography that enhanced the drab 1960s. Don't know how it was in the UK, but the set designs were reminiscent of scenes from my life at that time. Well, maybe not MY life, as my parents were poor and still attempting to appear early 1950s modern, but the middle and upper-middle class that I was not part of, but gained entry on occasion. I remember attending a holiday party or two at homes similar to George's and being in awe...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I read a bit about Tom Ford, director of the film. As well as being multi-talented he's also Virgo Sun and an astrology fan:

Tom Ford is an astro lover and no mistake!
That’s right, Ford is a big fan of astrology and cites himself as a ‘typical Virgo’…

“Oh, my God. Yes! I’m a Virgo, I’m anally retentive – I don’t like that term, but it’s accurate… In fashion there’s a lot of Virgos — Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld, Carine Roitfeld. There are lots of us. I think to really obsess over a millimeter on a shoe heel, it helps to be a Virgo.”

Chart is at,_Tom

That’s right, Virgo is meticulous, it’s all in the minutia details. Tom’s a renowned perfectionist, insisting on a perfect performance from those around him. He’s detail-oriented, analytical and discriminating, although Mercury in Libra means his critical tone is softened with sweetness – sometimes!

Twilight said...

LB ~ The lip-reading video - LOL...LOL! Thanks - loved it.

anyjazz said...

I enjoyed the movie "A Single Man" for the simple dialog, the good photgraphy and sets and some fine acting. Not things you find in a lot of cgi movies currently.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Glad you enjoyed it. It's silly but seems harmless enough.:) Hope they do one for the Democratic debate too.

mike (again) said...

anyjazz - Yes, and I liked the ending, too...I didn't see that one coming. I was not only content with the ending, but I was pleased for George.