Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PSA: It's Y'all, not Ya'll

By CL * Other CL Posts

When I moved to the Midwest, there was a bit of a culture shock. My family had never really experienced the strip mall/main street side of America, and I remember staring slack-jawed at the sights as we rolled down Lincoln's O Street the night we arrived. "Look, there's a Long John Silver's! And a Target!" Very exotic.

The differences between Nebraska and the places we lived previously were extensive. One local custom which I slowly adopted was the natives' habit of adding "all" as a modifier after...well, everything. "What are you all doing?" "Who all is going to be there?" And so on.

You know what else they have in Nebraska? Good grammar. One rather basic grammatical construction is the contraction. As a refresher, contractions involve the use of an apostrophe to represent omitted letters when two words are combined. For instance:

Can + not = can't

I + will = I'll

There + is = there's

I could go on. This brings me to the main point of this post: "you all" is a valid grammatical construction, but if contracted it must be written as "y'all," not "ya'll." The letters you're taking out are the O and U from "you," so the apostrophe must go between the Y and the A. It's not that hard.

Yes, I bothered to write an entire blog post about this. Why am I so worked up about it?


A Googlefight shows that "ya'll" returns almost FOUR TIMES AS MANY results as "y'all." (For the uninitiated: the Googlefight website allows you to compare the number of results returned by Google for two different search terms. It should be a good proxy for the popularity of each term in general internet usage.)

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all these people are contracting "yak shall" or "yams stall," "Yard mall" or "Yankees pull" - somehow I don't think that's the case.

Please, help me combat this scourge. The internet is filled with grammatical mistakes, but if we start small we can both reduce them and be condescending about it. And that, in the end, is every grammar-corrector's two-headed goal.

Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment