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Yall Should Use Yall Professionally

Feb. 14, 2020

“Yall” should be the lexicological movement of right now. And I mean “yall,” naked of its burdensome apostrophe, because it represents a proper sentiment that needs an inclusive word. We constantly use work-arounds to indicate gender-neutral third-party plural pronouns so why are we so unable to admit we need “yall” even in professional settings? Further, we need the defined term GNTPP because, as an attorney, I simply cannot be expected to type out “gender-neutral third-party plural” throughout this document when I could just create a defined term.

There are any number of articles describing all the reasons we should have a GNTPP like this one about GNTPP trends, or this one about our language failing epically, or this one about “they.” There are some academic articles that discuss the word “Ze” used as a GNTPP amongst the trans community. There is even an article about a (clearly enlightened) group of middle schoolers that organically manifested the word “yo” to be a GNTPP. There are still more studies reflecting that every other language besides ours has a GNTPP because it is so comprehensively and universally needed. (I mean, how do we even call ourselves civilized without a GNTPP?) Since yall are probably vaguely familiar with these concepts or have the ability to click on the links above, I will not regurgitate those discussions.

Our nation invents new words all the time. There are even announcements about the best Word of the Year (which was “they” in 2019, obviously). So, why haven’t we just accepted yall, as a full-fledged word without an apostrophe crutch already? Here is my pitch: We make “yall” the GNTPP of Austin and watch it spread virally. My logic is as follows: I am a professional and have documented that discriminatory practices are bad for business here, here, and here. As a professional, I must engage in speech. I prefer to engage in my speech without discrimination because it hurts my heart and my pocketbook. Perhaps you are also a professional who engages in speech and prefers to do so without discrimination? Then follow me in the adoption of “yall” for everyday GNTPP use.

No other word as good serves as a GNTPP for Austin. There are words like “friends,” that reminds me of a call from a kindergarten teacher. “All Yall” is just too extra in the wrong way. “Youz guys” only works if you are from a place where your teeth can chatter the “Z” properly. “Folks” is too folksy and “comrade” is too communist-y. “Youse” is trashy and “you fine folks” is just a long way of putting lace on folksiness. “Yinz” feels demeaning but maybe that is because I have never heard it in its native environment. “You-uns” seems colonial for reasons I cannot really explain. “Peeps” are too tasty to refer to some of the folks I need a GNTPP to reference. “People” occasionally feels inaccurate in these political times and, anyway, it is overly sterile. “Team” is sometimes just inaccurate. These are several other articles presenting similar analyses so let’s just assume my characterizations are correct and move on.

Finally, there is “y’all,” with the apostrophe. Grammatically speaking, apostrophes are for conjunctions and are informal.“Yall” does not have any missing letters as it is “all” with “Y,” a common and gender-neutral function, that has had the intended meaning of a GNTPP for generations. The operative “Y” function in “yall” could mean any or all of yall who have value, just as it means any numerical value. Yall is not at all like “isn’t” or “can’t” or “shouldn’t,” where it was slurred and crammed together so often grammarians threw an apostrophe in and said, with that one concession, we could keep the smashed word. “Yall” is intentional and thoughtful and just and inclusive and intentional. It solves the everyday and well-documented need for a modern, non-hokey, gender-neutral, third-person, plural pronoun acceptable for use in professional settings every single day. Yall already use “yall” every single day anyway, just like my boomer Yankee dad does. So, why not just accept the well-documented need for a GNTPP? What will yall do with all the time you previously spent re-writing sentences to avoid the glaring linguistic deficiency properly filled by “yall?”

So, my question to the Austin professional community, will yall de-apostrophize and de-stigmatize with me this year?