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gender-neutral second-person plurals

I left this datapoint in [personal profile] selki's journal. (She said that the word "guy" isn't "some sort of modern gender-neutral salutation". Let me be clear that I completely respect this viewpoint.)
</i>"Guys" or "you guys" has a completely gender-neutral connotation to me...but only when used as a second-person plural pronoun, the same way people use "y'all" or "youse". It feels wrong to me to address or label a woman or girl as a "guy" or to say "Those guys over there" when referring to a mixed group or a group of women/girls. But I'll comfortably say "OK, you guys..." even to a group of all women.

This isn't modern; I've been doing it my whole life and I'm over 50. I grew up in Michigan; I wonder if this is a regional usage.

In contrast, "dude," "men," "mankind," and "he/him" have a male-only connotation to me, although I can hear other people use "dude" in a gender-neutral manner. (I can't do that with the other words.)
Thoughts? Datapoints?

I also use "y'all," "youse" (but they don't feel like "my language"; they feel like I'm stealing them from other people's language), "peeps," and "folks." ("Peeps" feels modern to me, and "folks" feels old-fashioned.)

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/798359.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments. I prefer that you comment on Dreamwidth, but it's also OK to comment here.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
I will refer to an all-female group as "you guys." Or "folks." "Y'all" and "youse" are common where I grew up and I try my best not to talk like that.

Oh, I'll also call an individual woman "dude" sometimes. That's increasingly gender neutral imo.

Edited at 2013-01-21 10:41 pm (UTC)
Jan. 21st, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
I use "dude" for everyone as a term of address, but if I said "those dudes" I'd mean men, and if I say "those guys" I'd mean a random collection of people even if they were all female. "You guys" as a term of address also serve the "y'all" function for me.
Jan. 21st, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
We share the Detroit-area background, and to me "you guys" (or sometimes just "guys") is definitely a gender-neutral second person plural and can comfortably be used for any mix of genders. But only in the collective, not the singular! I'm not sure off the top of my head where "those guys" fits in this structure.

I've picked up "folx" from the alt.callahans newsgroup, but I don't use it consistently. And even if I did, it suffers from the "can't tell how it's spelled in a non-text medium" issue.
Jan. 21st, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
Same as you. Southern Ontario.
Jan. 22nd, 2013 01:35 am (UTC)
I'm 65, and "you guys" is gender-neutral to me. My 20-something kids (of both genders) have been known to call me "dude."
Jan. 22nd, 2013 04:24 am (UTC)
Um, I guess these folks don't realize that "you guys" is a noun phrase and not a pronoun at all? :)

I guess I don't see what's wrong with "you" as the plural for "you". We stopped using "thou" quite some time ago and commandeered the plural to mean singular as well, now we're expected to find a new plural? Hmm. Couldst please stop changing it about?
Jan. 22nd, 2013 10:12 am (UTC)
I guess I don't see what's wrong with "you" as the plural for "you".

Nothing wrong with it, but it's interesting that people keep coming up with second-person-plural-only variants. They must come in handy for some situations.
Jan. 22nd, 2013 08:15 am (UTC)
I tend to use "guys" and "dude!" as gender neutral words except when I say something like "guys and gals". I think I use "guys and gals" for people I know as opposed to "men and women" for strangers.

In writing, I sometimes use "youse" for a plural "you".
Jan. 22nd, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
I come by my "y'all" honestly, as my maternal family is from the (US) south.

"You guys" has been gender-neutral to me since I can remember.

If I say "Duuuude!" it's because "I can't believe you did that and I do NOT approve!" But I'm sure that meaning is a me-ism.
Jan. 22nd, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
If I say "Duuuude!" it's because "I can't believe you did that and I do NOT approve!" But I'm sure that meaning is a me-ism.

One person on the DW side uses it that way as well.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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