Thursday, June 10, 2010

So Where Does the Apostrophe Go?

As I prepare to celebrate my half-century as a Southern belle, I am having a crisis. After decades of writing -- and even more speaking -- this quintessentially Southern word, I am suddenly thrown into paroxysms of uncertainty over exactly where the apostrophe belongs in the last word this blog's title.

Is it "ya'll" as my third grade teacher insisted, a grammatical lesson I have always heeded religiously and unwaveringly? Or is it "y'all "as a certain vociferous contigent of my fellow Southerners insist? It's a suprisingly heated -- and very divisive-- debate for a group of folk famous for being laidback (except when it comes to SEC football).

Internet research presents compelling arguments for each side. The fact is the word is a colloquialism meant to be spoken rather than written. The placement of the apostrophe really doesn't impact the pronunciation in any way. Try it. Y'all. Ya'll. See what I mean?

Linguists have hopped on board the bandwagon insisting that since it is a contraction of "you all" which is really bad English for "all of you" it should be "y'all." But then there is the equally valid point that it's really a contraction for the way Southerners say you all -- ya all or "ya'll. "

In common usage, it's six of one, half dozen of the other.

The whole thing is making me all swimmy -headed.

The "y'all "camp scored a big victory when the magazine Y'all began publication and winning many over from the "ya'll" side. So it may soon become a case of majority rules.

If that's the case, I've decided to give it a shot. I moved the apostrophe in this blog title up a space just to see how it feels.

It feels weird. Looks it, too.

But is it the kind of weird like putting shoes on the wrong feet?

Or is it the kind of weird like getting used to new glasses?

Too early to tell.

So why am I throwing all my Southern neuroses into a blog post that's supposed to be about being carefree in Paree?

Because if you're one of the rare people who reads this blog, and you happened to notice something different, but couldn't put your finger on what it was, I wouldn't want you, precious reader, to think you are losing your mind.

It is, however, entirely possible that I am.

A bientot, y'all.

(Oh, hell, I don't think I can do it. What's your opinion on the subject?)

1 comment:

  1. Cathy, I agree with your initial instinct when you created this blog and named it - "y'all."

    The apostrophe is supposed to take the place of the missing letters, at the very least those letters would be the "o" and "u" in "you" - for the truncated phrase "you all" (versus "all of you").

    For instance:

    It is is "it's" not "i'ts" and "don't" (for "do not") is not "d'ont" ... you get the idea.

    Ciao for now!