automattic, texas

Mullenweg, y’all

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com and where I work), answered questions AMA-style on Product Hunt today. Among many fantastic answers, including what he looks for when hiring, the ways he likes to decompress, why a distributed team like ours is a good idea, and his current favorite apps/websites, I saw this gem about “y’all” that struck a chord with me, as a fellow Texan (and feminist):

When a Texan asked him what is response is if someone makes fun of his use of y’all or other colloquialisms:

“I try to work “y’all” into the conversation as soon as possible as a quick filter to see who is worth spending more time with or not. It is also incredibly useful in a world of gender-neutral pronouns.”

YES.

In seventh grade, I eliminated y’all from my vocabulary in a misguided attempt to “seem less Texan” largely due to being on the internet in 1994 and seeing what people said when they realized you were from Texas. It was misguided, because WHO CARES, but also because many of these same people thought I rode a horse to school in Houston, Texas, one of the largest cities in the United States, so they weren’t exactly brains, if you know what I mean.

A few years ago, when I reassessed the situation (and remembered where my y’all went in the first place), I brought it back into regular use. And I’m so glad I did because I’m happy to be Texan and also now I can avoid saying “you guys” to a group that includes women, since that’s not exactly gender-neutral and I’m not down with defaulting to dudes.

10 Comments

  1. I dunno y’all is Texan but you just made me aware that it is gender-neutral. I feel bad, yet use “you guys” to address a group that includes women as well. I couldn’t think of a gender-neutral alternative and believed “you guys” is apt for women as well. How silly have I been! Thanks for highlighting y’all. I will never forget it 🙂

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    • I said “you guys” in mixed-gender situations for years until one day I wondered about the “guys” part and switched to y’all instead. Happy to pass on the ah-ha! moment. 🙂

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    • Totally agree on y’all not being Texas-specific, but Texans do definitely like to say it. (My relatives in other southern states use it too.) And I think a lot of the negative stereotypes applied to it/the south stretch across Texas and the whole south in general, which makes me want to say it more of course. 🙂

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  2. I’m as New England as it gets, and I recently started working “y’all” and “you folks” into my vocab for addressing groups. Super handy, even if I feel a bit like faker typing “y’all.” 😛

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  4. “Y’all” just sounds wonderful from anyone’s mouth! My Stepmother hails from Tennessee and she uses it all the time when she’s here in Ireland. I live in the west, and most locals here use “ye” or “ye all” as a colloquialism. Back in Dublin where I’m from: it’s “you’se” or “yiz”!

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