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Hey you guys!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:22 pm Reply with quote
ptillen
 
Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 22


Not sure if this is a regional issue or not, but here goes.
In the course of some coaching that my husband was getting from a person who listens to people make sales calls and then advises them, he was told not to address a prospect (or prospects) as "you guys". Said it was too informal for a sales/business situation, especially in that particular situation, where the prospect was a woman executive. I agreed. Too informal.
I subsequently began to notice how ubiquitous the "you guys" form of address is. It seems to me to be the English language trying to invent a second-person plural pronoun where none exists. Like the Spanish Ustedes, for instance.
I do remember (and here might be the regional part) my very German rural grandmother saying things like "Did youse get enough to eat?" and "Hey youse kids get outta my rhubarb dere".
Now that certainly sounds like something that would not be appropriate in a board room.
Anyway, the "you guys" thing does sounds informal to my old-fart ears. But it does seem to have slipped into the general parlance, so maybe I should just get over it.
OK, so, here's the funny postscript: My hb and I were in a restaurant in Chicago, when a guy at the next table overheard us asking the waitress what was good. He recommended to crab legs, so we ordered 'em. We went on to discuss (with each other, not with the guy at the next table) this very linguistic issue. On the way out we thanked the guy for his recommendation and he said "Youse have a good evening now. "
Exclamation
So what do you guys---or youse--- think?
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 10:22 pm Reply with quote
thegooseking
 
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland


That's interesting.

I grew up with the term 'youse' (though never 'yoused' ((sorry)) it myself for fear of incurring the wrath of my mother, who was at the time studying for her PhD in English).

I had always assumed, however, that it was a peculiarly Scottish term, or perhaps encompassing Scotland and the north of England. I think this is the first time I've ever heard of it being used outside of that area.

Maybe the idea that it's a regional thing is self-enforcing: we assume it's regional, then don't use it when talking to people from other regions for fear that they won't understand it? Or maybe not.
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 5:48 am Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


This is one of those things that sticks underneath my skin and itches me all the time.

I think it's a shame that we don't any longer have an informal plural second-person pronoun in English. But actually, we do: it's just not a constant form from region to region.

"You all" ("y'all") is the stereotypical Southern American form of this. "Youse" is used in the northeastern USA. "You'uns" (sometimes spelled "yins" or "yinz") is not only from western Pennsylvania, but also the Appalachian (pronounced with a // in the third syllable, thank you very much) Mountain region.

"You guys" seems to be a rather generalized American way of expressing this. That is, one might classify it as "General American."

We perceive all of these a slangy, but they are all an attempt to recover this very much needed second-person plural. (It used to be "ye," back when we used "thou" in everyday speech.)

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 10:59 pm Reply with quote
ptillen
 
Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 22


Do you think the "you guys" and other 2nd person plural pronoun-substitutions are indeed too slangy to be appropriate in settings like work? I have to admit I'm enough of an "old fart" to be a little bugged when some sweet faced young wait-person says "you guys have a good evening".
Or maybe it's just the sweet-faced young part that gets to me Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 5:27 am Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


Well, they are less formal, in fact, than "work-speak." But that form always has been less formal. "Ye" is a plural of "thou," which is the familiar form of the 2nd-person. German "ihr" translates pretty directly to "you all" (or your favorite regional variant).

One objection a lot of people have to "you guys" is that it is not necessarily gender-neutral. "Guys" is perceived as a masculine term. This is, I think, why it annoys people so much.

It might also annoy, sometimes, because a familiar form is inappropriately used when a more formal form should be used. A waiter is not really on a first-name basis with a customer, and so should not address that customer as if they were friends.

The impulse to use a familiar plural form, though, is strong and sincere, and is (I think) an attempt to recover something that used to be more conventionally entrenched in our language.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:45 am Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Dave wrote:
One objection a lot of people have to "you guys" is that it is not necessarily gender-neutral. "Guys" is perceived as a masculine term.


Hi there!

I'm glad to hear that! I did feel that it was like masculinized language, though it didn't annoy me. I simply don't use it and don't encourage people use it, but I do explain it or it does appear in the audios I use in class, and all. Personally, I use "you all", "you bunch", "you folks" , "you gang" with people I know, like poor Rolling Eyes students! But I did wonder if people over there felt what I felt -- that because traditionally it had been an expression used by men among men, the conceptual system underlying it was an association with the masculine.

But then, because it is so common on TV (e.g. sitcoms), I thought that perhaps its use (and underlying visualization, so to put it!) was changing... It does happen with words and expressions throughout time, doesn't it? Although, it might not be changing. It could still be just like a masculine word in an apparently gender-neutral disguise!
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Oh My God, You Guys!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:07 pm Reply with quote
ptillen
 
Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 22


I understand the opening number in the new Broadway musical version of "Legally Blonde" is called "Oh My God, You Guys". Need I say it's set in a sorority house where Elle is announcing her engagement to the BMOC?
Heard a preview of it on NPR over the weekend. Very clever writing!
And to my ear it points up the "you guys" phrase as a youthful colloquialism.
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Hey you guys!
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