|It's this Southern Belle with her Yankee hubby!|
He would NEVER use "y'all" incorrectly. He might say "you uns," though!
What was this poor author’s mistake? 1) There is one southerner in the book and that southerner is a dumb hick from the sticks and 2) she misused the contraction y’all. I’m not going to name the author or her book, because, truthfully, I enjoyed the book and felt that overall it was well written. It’s pure bad luck that she managed to hit two of my pet peeves in one book, and really, only one is offensive, while the other merely demonstrates what can happen if your author and copy editor are both from the same region. Still, I was pretty darn ticked, and what good is a blog if you can’t write a good rant?
So let’s begin with the southern stereotyping. Some authors use the stereotype of the dumb southerner drinking moonshine and using colorful expressions straight from The Andy Griffith Show to comedic effect. Shelly Laurenston, to my knowledge, has never lived in the South, and yet her hillbilly characters are a riot. Yes, she uses the stereotypes, but her books are FUNNY, y’all. The author-we-shall-not-name, however, has only one character from the south and that character is dumb as dirt. She’s supposed to be endearing in her empty-headedness and inability to do basic math, but frankly, after years of hearing about how in the North the schools are better, the arts are better, and down South we’re all just a bunch of barefoot hicks waving confederate flags, I have little patience for this type of character. And when I think about all the beautiful southern towns I’ve lived in compared to some of the industrial cities in the North, that just chaps my hide.
I could have overlooked this character if it were not for the persistent misuse of the contraction y’all. The author-we-shall-not-name uses the contraction y’all throughout the book in place of the singular “you.” Dear friends, y’all is PLURAL. It is the contraction of the two words “you all.” You can only use y’all when you are referring to 2 or more people. You cannot address one person as y’all, that’s just wrong! This actually confused me at times, because the character would be talking to one person and address him/her as y’all, and I’d have to go back and re-read, because for Pete’s sake, WHO ELSE IS SHE TALKING TO???
Now, I understand that in the North you’ll hear the expressions “youse guys” or “you ‘uns” or even “yinz”. These, too, are plural expressions. Let’s replace the y’all in a sample conversation with youse guys to demonstrate how y’all cannot be used as the second person singular.
Me: Hey, Tom, youse guys have spaghetti sauce on your tie.
Tom: (looking around) It’s only me here, Rebe.
Me: Duh, that’s why I said YOUSE GUYS. Yinz should also examine your fly.
Tom: Um, I’m the only one here and I’m only wearing one pair of pants.
Me: Well, don’t forget to leave the gun and take the canoli!
This misuse of the contraction y’all drove me crazy. Seriously, if you’re going to make fun of us, at least get the vernacular right! So,that’s my rant. I could expand on the misspelling of “y’all” that I’ve seen in other books (sometimes it’s written as ya’ll – shudder), but I’ll save that for another day. Lord help the author-who-shall-not-be-named, but as God is my witness, Ah shall nevah buy her books again. Bless her heart.