The History of Ya’ll

Really cool blog here, shows the geographic distribution of the contraction “ya’ll.”

The word is actually quite simple: a contraction between ‘you’ and ‘all,’ implying the plural informal form of addressing a large group of people. Linguist Michael Montgomery has his own unique theory of where the word comes from, stating… “Montgomery claims that “y’all” goes back to the Scots-Irish phrase “ye aw,” and he offers as evidence a letter written in 1737 by an Irish immigrant in New York to a friend back home: “Now I beg of ye aw to come over here.” As I understand Montgomery’s hypothesis, “ye aw” was Americanized into “y’all,” which is indeed a contraction of “you all” but would not have come into being without the influence of the Scots-Irish phrase.”

The link below has a map indicating the geographic range and distribution of the word. It is neat to see how the darker states (states where the word is used rampantly, for example Texas and Louisiana) are actually spreading more north as the colloquialism gains popularity.

Many linguists argue vehemently between the racial origins of ya’ll, expressing that it was just as common among black southerners as it was, and is, among white southerners. Judging by the discourse, many historians and linguists believe the black southerners actually started using the slang term, but many affirm that rural white southerners can trace roots of ya’ll, or other variants, years before the slave trade became popular in the more northern southern states.

CHECK THE LINK     History of Ya’ll


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