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South Polls "You-all" Spoken Here "You-all" (or "y'all") is probably the best-known southernism. Certainly it's what Yankees invariably turn to when they want to imitate southern speech. And with good reason: more than two-thirds of southerners, compared to only one nonsoutherner in six, say that they hear this expression "very often." Almost half of southerners say that they use the expression "very often" themselves, compared to only 11 percent of nonsoutherners. In the South, both hearing you-all and saying it are pretty much unaffected by education and income, and both are almost as common among urban southerners as among rural ones. Oddly, although you-all is employed at least occasionally by solid majorities of both black and white southerners, blacks are only half as likely as whites to say it "very often" and nearly twice as likely to claim they never say it at all (30 percent versus 16 percent). Outside the South the pattern is reversed: there, blacks are far more likely than whites to use you-all. Some southern ways are threatened by the influx of nonsoutherners, but this one more than holds its own. Younger southerners are even more likely than older ones to say you-all. It also seems that many nonsoutherners who move to the South add this useful expression to their vocabulary. Migrants to the South say you-all more than stay-athome nonsoutherners do, and the longer people have lived in the South, the more they use the word. The poll also shows that you-all may be catching on among younger nonsoutherners . Nonsouthern respondents under 25 are more than twice as likely as those between 25 and 64 to use the expression "very often," and six times as likely as those over 65. All data below are from the Fall 1994 Southern Focus Poll, conducted by the Institute for Research in Social Science at Chapel Hill. The study can be obtained from the Institute for further analysis (Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3355). The Southern Focus Poll surveys a thirteen-state South (the eleven ex-Confederate states plus Kentucky and Oklahoma), plus a smaller sample of nonsouthern Americans for comparison. 126Southern Cultures There's a southern expression, "y'all"—how often do you hear people say that? Very often, sometimes, only occasionally, or never? % respondents who say "very often" SouthernNonsouthern Total sample69 17 Region of residence Deep South78 Peripheral South65 Mountain states34 Middle Atlantic20 East Central17 Pacific Coast14 West Central11 New England7 Considers self a southerner Does72 Does not58 County of residence Metropolitan67 18 Nonmetropolitan73 16 Race White71 15 Black60 38 Other58 21 Age 18-2481 28 25-4474 16 45-6464 17 65 or older54 10 Education 11 years education or less70 14 High school graduate69 19 Some college72 22 College graduate65 12 South Polls 127 How often do you use that expression yourself—very often, sometimes, only occasionally , or never? % respondents who say "very often" Southern Nonsouthern Total number polled Total sample Region of residence Deep South Peripheral South Mountain states Middle Atlantic East Central Pacific Coast West Central New England Considers self a southerner Does Does not Residence at age 16 South Border states Elsewhere County of residence Metropolitan Nonmetropolitan Race White Black Other Age 18-24 25-44 45-64 65 or older Education 11 years education or less High school graduate Some college College graduate (934) 47 58 42 54 24 55 40 20 46 49 52 25 33 52 52 46 30 48 45 46 48 (461) 11 22 12 13 10 6 3 18 23 10 12 9 10 19 12 22 11 9 4 5 10 15 10 —John Shelton Reed ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 125-127
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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