Thanks for y’all’s help

December 11, 2019 § 12 Comments

I went to breakfast in the motel lobby and sat down next to a group of guys from Dallas. They were split into three tables and talking about the upcoming day.

I love Texish. It’s the language I grew up speaking and even now, after all these years in California, people will, after listening to me for a while, ask carefully, “Are you from Texas?”

To which I always say, “Why do you ask?”

They politely try to engineer the right words, which usually come out thus: “Oh, just wondering. You say a few words different.”

“Like what?”

“Lowyer. Awl for oil. Arn for iron. And y’all. You say ‘y’all’ a lot.”

“Nope,” I say. “I was born in Jersey.”

Which I was, and upon turning two we moved back to Texas, where my parents and brother, grandparents on both sides, ancestors back to the mid-1800’s, and relatives of every stripe, color, felony conviction, and misdemeanor of every sort were all from.

I never tried to clean up the Texish out of my speech, but I never did like Marvin and Mea, either, who husband their Arkansasish with the care and devotion of a Christian protecting his Good Book amongst the heathens. Eventually, it mostly has faded away, except for the occasional times it pops up strong.

One time I was riding with Jeff Konsmo and he started laughing. “What are you laughing at?” I asked.

He mimicked something I’d just said. “‘I reckon.'”

So there I was at the table listening to my language being spoken properly. It is slow and considerate, a polite language mostly, not in a hurry, much.

The guys all stood up finally and at the third table there was a woman, I guess she was their boss or coordinator of the trip of something. They asked a couple of questions about billing and she answered.

As they left, the largest guy tipped his gimme cap. You don’t see a man tip his hat in California unless he is falling down. “Thanks for y’all’s help,” he said.

There it was, pure Texish gold, the plural y’all. This separates the speakers from the fakers because y’all is already the plural possessive pronoun and everyone knows that “your” doesn’t take an “s” when modifying a noun. “Thanks for yours help” says nobody.

That’s when the fake “y’all” users in California, and there are a bunch of them, white and black, and the New Yorkers who’ve lived in Texas for 20 years revert back to “your.” It’s too much form them to tack on that pesky “s,” sticks in their throat like a burr in your foot or a wet sock. But if you want to speak right, you have to. The plural possessive of “y’all” is, has always been, and always will be, “y’all’s.”

That’s y’all’s lesson for today. Carry on.


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