Some days I wake up in the morning, want to move to Kentucky and bake pies for a living. This, however, is not why I have adopted ya'll into my daily writing. I've done it to become more inclusive.
Our words have an impact whether we want them to or not, we need to think about what we are saying and how our speech intentionally or not is affecting others. For example, a few years ago I stopped referring to women as girls. In my life, there are no 'girls nights out!' or 'little girls rooms.' I had an ex-coworker who used to refer to me as a girl or even worse a babe (shudder). This bothered me. I felt belittled and less intelligent than my male co-workers who were never spoken down to like that. It made me realize how my words could affect others. I guess in an odd roundabout way I need to thank this individual for opening my eyes to this problem. When you think about it, we would never refer to men as boys, so why do we always belittle women and refer them to girls? Shop girls, the girl who served us, the girl who answered the door or the girl who screwed up at the cash. Are these people over the age of 16? If yes, then I believe they are women.
For me, this might have been the beginning of me thinking about how I refer to others, how I write emails and how my speech affects people around me. I want to note here that I identify as a woman (she/her). I like to be referred to as a woman, not a chick, not a babe and never ever a girl. When I began to think about how I worked, one thing that stood out for me as I frequently started emails to my co-workers as Hi Guys! I want to point out, my office is very diverse, out of our team of nine, we have four women. In my line of work that is excellent. I began to take note though, using Hey Guys as a greeting was only talking to the men in the room, my female counterparts could potentially feel left out. I was excluding other women.
I began to search for better alternatives and landed upon the Hi Team or Hi Folks (we're a pretty casual bunch here) and for internal emails, I've stuck with this. For external emails and conversations however a Hi Team just isn't going to cut it. This is something I struggled with. How can I respond to a group of people and be inclusive?
This is how I landed upon ya'll. After a trip to Kentucky and Nashville this summer, I noticed more and more people saying ya'll. It was a great way to be inclusive of everyone. Frankly, I fell in love with it and begun using the term on a regular basis.
The English language is a funny thing, in the south they use ya'll to refer to a group of people (all ya'll technically if it's 3+). How is it possible, that we have yet to adopt something similar to this in Canada? I've read recently that ya'll is the next contender to replace hey guys, but when will this switch happen? Language is fluid (check out John McWhorter's book Words on the Move), times are changing, and I'm seeing the way we write and speak changing along with this.
Part of this is also forgiving yourself when you slip up from time to time. Have I completely dropped the term you guys from my vocabulary? No. We are all going to slip up from time to time. I've begun using ya'll more frequently in emails and even when referring to a group of people. When I get the side eye about it, I explain why I'm doing this in the hopes that others might follow suit.