Y’all

I have never lived in the south, and I don’t feel that I can unselfconsciously adopt “y’all” into my New Englander speech. I also doubt that I could pull off “yous” because it conjures up a New Jersey gangster figure, even though it may have Irish roots.

While I’m in Spain, though, I’ve got the chance to get good at “y’all” of a different variety. My new world Spanish doesn’t tend to use it, but the Spanish in Spain (often proudly called Castellano) has a form of address called the vosotros form, which is used when speaking to a group of people you know well. I had exposure to it years ago, as the translations of scriptures I used on my mission used it, but I’m somewhat tentative when conjugating verbs that way.

Thinking about the vosotros usage in scripture, it’s a little strange to realize that where the King James Bible says, “Ye are the light of the world,” my Spanish Bible says, «Vosotros sois la luz del mundo.» In other words, “Y’all are the light of the world.” It adds a new flavor, doesn’t it?

I hear a lot of the Spanish version of “y’all” around here, and I’m going to work at conjugating verbs that way in Spanish. As far as English goes, I may just get comfortable saying “you lot.” After all, Harry Potter is my kids’ preferred second language.

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3 thoughts on “Y’all

  1. I love the idea of you New Englanders using the Y’all form. I grew up in Maryland and sometimes we kids tried to sound southern by using it. My parents, having been raised in New England though, didn’t use it. Of course, we dropped it when we moved back to New England. Fun to think that you can pick it up again in Spanish, and be very “down home” with your friends there. Marian

  2. I grew up in Texas and used y’all regularly! I never really thought of vosotros as being the equivalent of y’all so that really made me laugh.
    I’m enjoying your observations!

  3. I like this difference very much! Makes me think about that injunction (description? commandment? observation?) quite differently for some reason. And not only because I can’t NOT say y’all. It’s just so dang handy.

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