One of the first lessons in my introductory high school French class centered around the word "vous." My teacher, Mrs. Gelzleichter, explained that the word could sometimes be used as formal form of "you," but more often served as a plural of that word.
It didn't quite click at first. There didn't seem to be a direct English equivalent to compare it to. Until finally an enlightened "Ohhhh" cooed from the back of the class.
"I get it," my classmate said. "'Vous' is 'y'all!'"
And it is, more or less. On Monday, a writer for The Atlantic wrote an article urging the rest of the country to come to the same realization — that we don't have an official, practical way to pluralize "you" in English, and that "y'all" is the answer.
Vann R. Newkirk II (perhaps the most unlikely name for anyone espousing the virtues of "y'all") wrote for The Atlantic that the staple of Texas vernacular is the key to a pressing linguistic conundrum.
In the article, he downplays other regional solutions ("you guys," "yinz,"and "you-uns, to name a few), espousing instead the simple solution many of us have used since birth:
It doesn’t suffer from having the gender implications or general lameness of “you guys.” It sounds elegant, warm, and inviting. It offers both economy and an end to second-person ambiguity. Teach it in schools across the country. Mouth it to babies. Put it on end-of-grade tests. With respect to “youse,” “yinz,” and “you-uns,” its lesser-known cousins, “y’all” is the most widely practiced of the options and could be the easiest to implement.
To me, and probably to you, this makes sense. Now we just need to get the rest of the country on board. Glad that's decided — any other questions can be submitted to this guy: