In defense of “Y’all”


I’ve noticed that people seem to hold a lot of vitriol and hatred of the term y’all. I can only assume this stems from the belief that if you have a U.S. Southern accent, you’re automatically less intelligent than the rest of the country and/or world, therefore using words like y’all mark you as less-than by intellectual elitists.

Well, I am an intellectual elitist, and I think the word y’all is just fine. I also don’t believe that a Southern accent automatically makes someone stupid, which makes me a bit of a pariah in elitist circles.

We need more gender-neutral terms in our language. Everything is so male-dominated — people won’t blink at saying “You guys” for mixed-gender groups of people, but say “You gals” and suddenly you’re emasculating every dude in the room. “You dudes” is another term. “Hey bros.” We may throw women a bone by saying “Hey dudes and dudettes/bros and ladybros,” but you’ll notice that doesn’t happen very often. (And the words are basically just the same, with a suffix or prefix tacked on. Don’t even get me started on -ette being a diminutive.)

Yet saying “You all” seems strange, and stilted. If I try to say “You all” as two separate words, I end up saying “You all — all of you — all the people I’m talking you — you all — whatever, just come over here.” As a contraction, however, it’s much smoother, much shorter, and gender-neutral. “Hey y’all, come over here for a second.”

I mean, really, what else can you ask for? It’s perfect for everyday use. I don’t understand why people think it should be limited to the Jason Stackhouses of the world, or that using it makes you less-than. It doesn’t. Southern accents don’t make you less-than. There are tons of smart people with Southern accents, and tons of stupid people without. Dear gods, folks, stop with the hatred of people just because they come from a certain region.

And anyway, nothing sounds stupider than “Youse guys.”