Walking with my husband this morning, a chipper neighbor across the way saluted us with the plural ‘How are yous?’ And suddenly, coming from this very funny and intelligent man, it made perfect grammatical sense.
Lumping women in with ‘you guys’ has always perturbed me. It reminds me when, way back while I was briefly enrolled in a private all-girls school, we merged with Hopkins, an all boys school in New Haven, Connecticut. We were all gleefully giddy about being with the boys, totally losing sight of the fact we were about to lose ourselves.
For many years the sign at the entrance of the school read: Hopkins-Day Prospect School. Eventually the name of the girls school disappeared all together as the institution went back to simply being known as Hopkins. Even a female institution can be swallowed up in marriage to a male one.
So to linguistically lump us in with men as in ‘you guys’ strikes me as slightly sinister. Professionally this is the opposite: one is a doctor, not a doctress…but in terms of personal identity, a lack of a distinction bothers me.
I tried on ‘you gals’ for a while when addressing a group of woman friends, but it felt archaic and didn’t stick. Then this morning it struck me…just as certain expressions have crept into mainstream English via Yiddish such as ‘klutz’ and ‘nosh’, and Ebonics such as ‘right on’ and ‘rip-off’, why not via old school Brooklyn?
So what do yous think?