My Mother’s “Younz”

Brittany Madera

Brittany Madera

Hello, my name is Brittany, and I’m a habitual “you guys”er.

When I took Michele Papakie’s Presentation making class, she had one constant comment on all of my speeches:  “Watch the ‘you guys.’”

Everyone is a guy. Mixed group of males and females? “Hey, you guys!” Girls congregating in the bathroom together? “My skirt isn’t tucked in anywhere embarrassing, right, you guys?” Professors and professionals coming to meet with us in a focus group? “How are you guys doing today?”

Whoops. That last one apparently needs to stop.

I promise, I’m a professional college graduate who is generally very well-spoken and put together. However, this “you guys” stuff is killing me. Under normal circumstances, a couple of “you guys” thrown in a conversation wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, if you’re looking to represent an organization in a professional manner in front of business people, it’s better left unsaid.

Michele keeps reminding me that there will always be the one woman in the back of the room who will fold her arms angrily and think to herself, “I’m not a guy!” There will always be someone who doesn’t realize that, sure, everyone is a guy and that I mean it in only the most loving way.

So now I’m trying to cut down on the “you guys.” I can’t go cold turkey, but I’m at least in rehab.

But it could be worse. No matter how much Michele complains about my “you guys,” it at least hasn’t turned into my mother’s “younz.”

My mother has somehow managed to make the Pittsburgh “yinz” even more incorrect. She swears that it’s actually better because, in her mind, “younz” should stand for “you ones.”

She has a point. In Spain, vosotros is used when talking informally to a group of people, and ustedes is used in a formal group. Why don’t we have a vosotros in English? The closest we have is y’all, yinz, younz and, of course, you guys.

Until someone comes up with a good word for referring to a large group of collective people, I’m either going to keep using “you guys” or awkwardly trying to dance around the forbidden phrase.

I’ll be sure to keep younz updated on my progress.

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