Why is [y'all] becoming so popular...?
Acsian, axian, survived in ax, down to nearly 1600 the regular literary form, and still used everywhere in midl. and south. dialects, though supplanted in standard English by ask...
She is not the first non-Southerner to insist that Southerners may call a single person 'y'all,' but to my knowledge she is the first to declare categorically, in the face of everyday evidence and all philological authority, that it is always a single person we so address. But she isn't one to brook elucidation. With regard to the singularity of 'y'all,' she writes: 'Southerners will beg to differ here. They insist that even though they use it to address one person, it implies plurality.'
Something -- either second-person-plural envy or hyperjocularity -- has affected Duffin-Ward's ear. People in the South do indeed sometimes seem to be addressing a single person as 'y'all.' For instance, a restaurant patron might ask a waiter, 'What y'all got for dessert tonight?' In that case 'y'all' refers collectively to the folks who run the restaurant. No doubt the implication of plurality is hard for someone who didn't grow up with it to discern. It may even be that Duffin-Ward has heard a native speaker, in real life, violate deep-structure idiom by calling a single person 'y'all.' That would be arguable grounds for saying that 'y'all' is singular on occasion. But how can she have missed daily instances of people unmistakably addressing two or more people as 'y'all'? When a parent calls out to three kids, 'Y'all get in here out of the rain,' does she think only one child is being summoned? ('All y'all' is of course an extended plural: 'Y'all listen up! I mean all y'all.' Often it is pronounced 'Aw yaw.')
I'm not talking about people who incorporate Yiddish or Ebonics into their speech. I'm talking about people who use the word y'all.
They don't have 'little to no control' over it
actually, the suggestion that they don't have such control is a much more debasing indictment of individuals than anything I've said.
Why are you so sure that the statistical correlation is coincidental?
I don't remember using the word 'irrational' anywhere.
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