Ad­dress­ing ad­dresses

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

Mr. Bill Davis is cor­rect in that the al­most univer­sal use in our coun­try of “you guys,” as a plu­ral for any- and ev­ery­one who is be­ing ad­dressed, is re­gret­table. How­ever, there is an “ex­pla­na­tion” which may help to soothe our in­dig­na­tion some­what, al­though this is not of­fered as a de­fense.

Un­like many other fa­mil­iar lan­guages one might study, the English lan­guage plu­ral for “you” is the same as the sin­gu­lar word “you.” While it is cor­rect for a coach, when ad­dress­ing his women’s softball team, to say “we ex­pect you to play your very best in this cru­cial game …” we are more likely to hear “we ex­pect you guys to play your very best, etc.”

In ear­lier years in New York, we heard “youse,” in Ten­nessee it was “you-uns,” and in the gen­eral South, “y’all.” But now, those ter­ri­to­rial “you” plu­rals have given way to the more con­ve­nient and mul­ti­pur­pose “you guys.”

I don’t think there is any dis­re­spect in­tended, but we tip ex­tra for servers who ad­dress my hus­band and me as “y’all”!



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