Being born just slightly north of Georgia (by approximately 1200 miles), I can’t say “y’all” without sounding like a complete idiot. I also can’t spell it or use it in a sentence. Otherwise I have it completely figured out.
Southerners feel similar stress when visiting New York where people say “you’s guys” which is the northern equivalent of “y’all” but always in the plural. “You’s guys are idiots.” In the south, you can say, “Y’all are stupid” and that can mean just me or me and everyone currently standing around me. It’s more polite, although I think they’re strictly speaking to me.
Canadians use “A”, pronounced; “eh” after everything they say, which is more confusing than “y’all” and “you’s guys” but they have no idea why they say it! “You going to the Maple Leafs game tonight, eh”? Is he telling me.. or asking me? I think that’s why the Quebec province speaks French so they can at least know when to go to the hockey game. “Allez-vous le match de hockey? Eh?”
I did some research and “y’all” is actually a 2,000 year old Latin word which when translated means “To confuse northerners.” It works for me! “Y’all going to the beach later?” Are you talking to me? They would respond: “Yes, I’m talking to y’all.” Well thanks for clearing that one up!
“Y’all” can be used several times in a single sentence meaning both singular and plural. An example would be as follows: “Y’all been shopping already?” Singular. “Yes, I was shopping.” They reply, “Cause I saw y’all at the Wal-Mart in the toupee aisle.” “Oh,” I say,”Did you see me or my family?” Because I’m the one looking at Wal-Mart toupees.
They would respond, “I saw y’all.” Why do I still have trouble with this? I’ll tell you why: because I don’t know what you are talking about!
I need a badge alerting southerners about my northern status so they can point when using “y’all” and maybe throw things at me when the “y’all” is directed at me.
It’s even worse when you are in a business meeting and “y’all” is used regarding important decisions and duties to be handled. “Now y’all get the Johnson account handled because y’all need to get me the final draft on the project before y’all move forward. Y’all have any questions before y’all submit the notes?” Ok, I quit. Do “I” or “they” need to get the report to you?
I’ll leave a two hour meeting and have no idea what just happened until I get an email later: “Y’all need to get me the Johnson file which I asked you for at the meeting.” I thought that “y’all” was us “y’all,” not me “y’all.” They respond: “I was looking right at you.” Problem is, in the south, you can look directly at someone, use “y’all” and be speaking to everyone. Who made this up? Oh yeah, some Southern Latin person 2,000 years ago. “Caeser, are y’all gonna be at the Coliseum tonight?”
I also don’t know how “y’all” works when ordering at restaurants in the south: “Y’all having the green beans with the burger?” I’m looking around the table where four people just ordered the burger with green beans and the correct person says: “Yes please.” How did they know he was speaking to them? I’ve haven’t ordered the correct food in more than 10 years due to answering a “y’all” question which was meant for someone else. I think I just ordered the filet of beef..but I get Spaghettios.
What about air traffic controllers? “Y’all just keep coming in on pattern 45 runway three and y’all need to make some room at 5,000 feet so y’all can move south to 3200 feet. Y’all copy?” Copy what? If I was listening to that, I’d currently be flying over Canada at 87,000 feet.
It’s also tough for a northerner to buy a car in the south. I’m at the dealership and the salesman is asking (I think me): “What’s it gonna take today for y’all to buy this Buick?” So I end up buying the Buick only to find out he was talking to the guy behind me. So I have a Buick.. and the guy who wanted the Buick ends up with a used 1987 Ford Fiesta with plastic seats. Hardly seems fair.
So I’ll keep practicing. Y’all be patient and you’s guys have a great day. eh?