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Translation Tuesday: Y’all

April 12, 2011

Translation Tuesday! I remember when I first moved down here, I felt I needed a translator at times to understand what people were saying. Like any part of the country, the South has its own slang and phrases that are a part of everyday life. It gets real fun when you add in the accent, or a sub-dialect of a distinctive area of the South (New Orleans is different Florida, as Florida is different from eastern Tennessee and so on). An example of a confusing sentence: “Hey y’all, I am fixin to grab a buggy at the Pig to get the fixins for our spread tonight before we shag.” Translation: “Hey all, I am going to be getting a grocery cart when I go to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store because I need to get a lot of food for the party we are having before we all go dancing to beach music.” Yep, you need a translator at times. So, until I run out of translations, Tuesdays will be devoted to that topic!

For the first one, I am going with my favorite Southern saying, and the one I joke was a reason I moved down here: Y’all. I don’t know a single person down here who does not use this daily… even Gail, who avoided it for the first few years we were in college, has given in and uses it occasionally. I knew it was an okay word to use in any sentence when my English 101 instructor freshmen year said it was perfectly fine to use in our formal papers because it was just an example of a contraction. My kind of instructor! Simply, it is a contraction mixing YOU and ALL. In an effort to just make it seem a little more friendly and be a bit more expedient with the time to talk, Southerners have just mushed them together in one word. Add a nice little accent with a bit of a drawl on it and you have what I think is the South’s most common phrase. Y’aallll. Give it a try sometime, like I said, I love it so much it was a contributing factor to coming down here all those years ago. It just makes one feel welcome! But people please note the apostrophe goes after the Y, not after the A. Please try and get it right 🙂

As a side note, today marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The first shots were fired on Ft. Sumter and over the course of several years, over 600,000 people died. I will come back to this topic in a later blog because it does still play a part in the life of someone in the South, but check out this article from CNN about how we are still fighting the Civil War: Fascinating!

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