LINGUIST List 2.704

Thu 24 Oct 1991

Disc: You-Guys

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Directory

  1. John E. Koontz, Re: You-Guys
  2. Scott Delancey, you guys
  3. , you guys
  4. , You guys
  5. BARBARA PARTEE, Re: 2.698 Queries
  6. CHARLES LAUGHLIN, YOU GUYS
  7. Michael Toolan, Re: 2.698 Queries

Message 1: Re: You-Guys

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 1991 09:20:31
From: John E. Koontz <koontzalpha.bldr.nist.gov>
Subject: Re: You-Guys
I have essentially the same pattern with English second persons that Dray
reports: you-guys (plural, for several individuals, or informal, for
totalities) and you-all (never plural per se, but more formal, for
totalities). I have had the impression for some time that you-guys is the
normal plural of you in the General American dialect(s), that it is unmarked
for gender and problematic only as to register, i.e., it isn't part of
elevated speech. By way of background, my father is a Kansan (western), my
mother is a Baltimorean, and I was raised in Maryland and Colorado. Another
you plural that I have encountered, and occasionally find useful as the
formal equivalent of you-guys is you-folks (stress on you), which was used
by my father's father (Kansan - his parents were from Missouri). I don't
know how widespread it is. I have also run across you-ones, you'uns, y'uns,
and you-people, but I couldn't say where or when. I suspect that there is
no regional or local variant of English, at least in the US, that doesn't
have an innovated second person plural or plurals. You-lot sounds
distinctly British, though I wouldn't be able to assign it to a level or
region.
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Message 2: you guys

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 1991 09:02 PDT
From: Scott Delancey <DELANCEYOREGON.UOREGON.EDU>
Subject: you guys
For me, although in my native speech _guy(s)_ has pretty unavoidably
masculine reference (when I was learning to talk it formed a constrast
set with _girl(s)_), pronominal _you guys_ is absolutely gender-neutral;
I can use it with any plural set of addressees.
Scott DeLancey
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Message 3: you guys

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 91 12:32:33 EDT
From: <hharleyAthena.MIT.EDU>
Subject: you guys
Ha - I never really thought about it before, but I am indubitably
a you guys 2nd plural person as well, with guys being neuter. Someone
mentions the etymology of guy... has this been posted and I've missed
it? Maybe someone could send it to me if that's the case...
thanks
Heidi
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Message 4: You guys

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 91 18:05:40 EDT
From: <Alexis_Manaster_Ramermts.cc.wayne.edu>
Subject: You guys
I tend to agree with Nancy Dray (and must say have trouble believing Scott
DeLancey) regarding 'you guys'. Surely, Scott can also say things
such as 'You people are crazy', 'You people are all crazy', 'You are
all crazy', and so on, which would indicate that 'You guys are crazy'
is not the unique translation of Southern 'Y'all are crazy'.
But I also have trouble believing that 'you
by itself is always singular, since for me it can clearly be
plural in anaphoric contexts such as the following:
 You guys are crazy. I don't believe a word you're telling me.
Indeed, I would find 'you guys' or any of the equivalent
locutions a little strange in such anaphoric contexts, especially
the third or fourth time the pronoun has to occur.
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Message 5: Re: 2.698 Queries

Date: Wed, 23 Oct 91 17:56 EST
From: BARBARA PARTEE <PARTEEcs.umass.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.698 Queries
Re: you guys's gender.
I wish I had already been a linguist when as a high school student I
attended the first Girl Scout Roundup in Michigan in 1956; we were all in
patrols of 8 from different parts of the country, and I do remember noticing
that there were many different forms of plural you coming into collision
there; "youse" was common in my (Baltimore) patrol (which surpised some of
the others), and of course we weren't surprised to hear y'all from
southerners, but I remember that we were a bit taken aback that the St.Paul
patrol used "you guys", in that all-female environment. For me by now the
"guys" in "you guys" is totally gender-neutral; I assume it's the same item
when we use "these guys" to refer to constituents in a phrase-structure
tree, a use I wasn't conscious of until I first heard it in the mouth of a
non-native and otherwise slightly formal-sounding speaker who had evidently
picked it up as standard linguistic terminology.
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Message 6: YOU GUYS

Date: Thu, 24 Oct 91 06:28 EDT
From: CHARLES LAUGHLIN <CHARLES_LAUGHLINcarleton.ca>
Subject: YOU GUYS
Re: You Guys
Dennis Breminded me that I was raised using "you
guys" indiscriminately for both genders (I was raised in
Arkansas and Texas) and have run into the situation numerous
times here in Ottawa, Canada, of people telling me it was
inappropriate for women. It reminds me also of the time I
walked into the front office at my department, full of female
staff at the time, and complained that I was tired of being
called a "guy." I had just found out that it has the traditonal
meaning of "grotesque." Related to Guy Fawkes it seems. Well,
one of the secretaries complained back that I was feminist-
baiting. She missed the point.
Charles Laughlin <CHARLESLCARLETON.CA>
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Message 7: Re: 2.698 Queries

Date: Thu, 24 Oct 91 14:23:09 PDT
From: Michael Toolan <TOOLANU.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.698 Queries
I think 'you guys' is residually gender-marked (in my dialect). That is, it's
OK when addressed to any group by a girl or woman, but only OK, coming from a b
oy or man, when addressed to a mixed or all-male group. And with a male speake
r, probably 'a reasonable proportion' of the group needs to be male--1 male in
a group of 3 or 4 would be enough, but 1 male addressee out of a group of 12 wo
uldn't.
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