Howdy Y’all

The Garden Writers Association was in Washington state a couple of years ago and I was attending the Trade Show. I approached a booth with two young women and said “How’re y’all doing?” They giggled and said to each other “He said y’all.” I felt like someone out of Mayberry. Later some different ladies laughed when I pronounced the L in salmon. It is a Southern thing to pronounce things like they are spelled: I ran. if it’s spelled Iran then we’re going to say I ran. If you want it pronounced differently then spell it Eron. It irks me when a waitress says to me and my wife “you guys ready to order?” One of us is obviously not a guy. Used to you could tell who was a Southerner and who was a northerner just by who said y’all and who said you guys (yes I know I capitalized Southerner and not northerner) but nowdays what with incessant TV watching, everybody like talks as if they were from California, ya know?

I grew up believing y”all to be a perfectly acceptable, non-gender contraction for you all. Of course I will admit there are those of us who say y”all when talking to only one person. This is gramatically incorrect. Then there are those who will say “I’m not just talking to y’all, I’m talking to all Y’all.” Sounds redundant doesn’t it? I looked up redundant in the dictionary and it was in there twice. Barbecue. Now there’s a good old Southern multi-purpose word: I’m gonna take this barbecue (meat) out to the barbecue (grill) and barbecue (cook) it. And people say we talk funny in the South. Bless their hearts, they just don’t know any better.

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