On Americanisms – Part 1

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[este texto pode também ser lido em Português, aqui]

“I’m fixing to give ya’ll a lesson most of you ain’t ever heard!”

If you read that sentence without any problems, then you are one very well-traveled individual. Or you’ve been watching American television and film fervently for many years. Or both. Because in the above sentence, I’ve used three common Americanisms, words that you’d never hear uttered outside of the United States, and sometimes only heard within specific regions of the country.

With the sheer amount of Hollywood movies and television channels that show American programs, I’m sure everyone has been stumped a time or two on words that, seemingly, don’t exist at all! The level of English in Portugal is very impressive, but even the best speakers I know have had questions about some of these words. So today I’m going to start a small series of blog posts about what I like to call Americanisms.

While there are three striking Americanisms in the sentence above, I’m going to start us off with just one in this post. It’s one that I heard frequently while growing up, and it’s perhaps my favorite Americanism of them all!

Ya’ll -also spelled y’all– is the Americanism that we’re going to visit today. While this contraction of the words “you” and “all” was once only used in one geographic area of the United States, it has spread over the last several decades, up from the Southern states, through the Appalachian Mountains, and into the lower Midwest. It’s also prevalent in the inner cities, and you’ll hear it a lot if you listen to rap music.

What does ya’ll mean? Well, as a contraction of “you” and “all,” ya’ll fills a gap in the English language as a second person plural pronoun, holding the same meaning as Portuguese vocês. It’s used as a slightly more fluid alternative to “you guys.”

And that’s all for today. Thanks for reading!

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con·sis·ten·cy (kən-sĭs′tən-sē) noun.   1. agreement, accordance, or harmony between parts; compatibility


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