Monday, September 15, 2008

How People Talk II

Upon reading my last post, my friend Char reminded me of another now common  language usage. I go to lunch once in a while with friends who are even older than I (It's possible that people of great age are still ambulatory!), and we are invariable asked by the young, perky servers, "Can I get  you guys something?" After we have received our meals, they're back with, "Do you guys need anything else?" Before they bring the bill they ask, "Do you guys want any dessert?" (My friends and I are not eating in greasy spoon diners, so I don't know where this trend comes from.)

Now, my aged friends and I pretty much look like old ladies, even though we do have the occasional chin whiskers from dying hormones. We don't talk in gruff voices, we don't wear pinky rings or shoot our cuffs. 

I once called a young waitress on this terminology and her response was to look confused: "What should I call you?" 
"How about just "you"? I said.
"Oh," she replied, as if it had never occurred to her that the word is both plural and singular.

I don't know if that changed her, but it is still "you guys" wherever I go.In some places, especially in Western Pennsylvania, it's "youns" and in some places in Ohio it's "youse", pronounced "ewes." Growing up in the South, we used "y'all", but most Yankees are apt to use that word when addressing a single person rather than more than one person and it grates on the ear. 

Maybe I should just put a poster up in the entry of the restaurants I frequent and let them know that "you guys" is a really weird way to address customers, especially us geezer ladies. 

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