One thing that I picked up from schizmatic
, Southern English's second-person plural. It's actually quite useful, when you think about it, since English probably could use a second-person plural. Language Log's Mark Liberman writes
, however, about the controversy over the use of "y'all" as a second-person singular. Below's one example.
In spite of the large body of writing on yall, we know very little about the form. For example, we know almost nothing about its social and spatial distribution (i.e., about precisely who uses the form and exactly where it is used) and very little about its origins or even its precise meaning. This paradox is largely a consequence of the peculiar research strategy that underlies a great deal of the literature on yall. Rather than basing their conclusions on surveys of usage or ethnographic studies or even attestations in literary dialect, most of those who have written on yall rely on what is best termed the personal testimony of true believers. Especially in response to skeptics who cite apparent singular uses of you-all or yall that they may have overheard by chance, true believers simply give their personal testimony that these forms never occur as singulars in the South. They often do so with zeal, as in Axley's assertion that, in a lifetime of observation, he had "never heard any person of any degree of education or station in life use the expression you all as a singular" (1927, 343). Even Atwood (1962), in an otherwise excellent dialect survey, relies on the strategy of personal testimony. Although he surveyed the use of yall as a plural in Texas and Oklahoma, Atwood did not investigate its possible occurrence as a singular; he merely asserted that the form could not be used as a singular, adding that "if anything is likely to lead to another Civil War, it is the Northerner's accusation that Southerners use you all to refer to only one person" (1962, 69). In fact, only one study (Richardson 1984) provides anything like systematic evidence on the possible use of yall as a singular (she argues that the form is used only as a plural and that apparent singular occurrences usually reflect Southerners' exaggeration of their dialect for social effect); few studies provide any data at all on the social and spatial distribution of the form, either singular or plural. A century of fervent scholarship on you-all and yall, then, has produced mostly fervor.
[Singular yall] is used by native Southerners, especially those who live in areas with large numbers of non-Southerners or who are in contact with non-Southerners in their work, as a badge of local identity, that is, as a way of affirming local values in the face of widespread migration into the area by outsiders who (often unwittingly) pose a threat to local values.
Thoughts? I still use it occasionally as a plural, since, well, y'all know it fills a gap in standard English as it's used.