Was there a substantial MeFi/MeTa discussion of using the word "guys" November 7, 2017 5:19 AM   Subscribe

I thought there was a discussion of the propriety/potential sexism of using "guys" to refer to mixed gender groups, or even groups of women. It is impossible to search for such a thing. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise to MetaFilter-Related at 5:19 AM (98 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I do remember such a discussion (why I always use "folks" now, despite not really being a "folks" person), but I didn't have any luck pulling it up either.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:23 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I believe it was part of this meta. Relevant comment.
posted by zarq at 5:28 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I seem to remember that conversation in relation to a discussion of the gender/ pronoun box on our profiles, if that helps at all.
posted by COD at 6:00 AM on November 7


Well, COD, it may be in a different one, but it's not in this one.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:16 AM on November 7


This is probably not it, but here’s me trying to explain my frustration to someone who used “guys” to mean “men” in a context where it read as gender neutral or female specific.
posted by bilabial at 6:48 AM on November 7


To me, it seems the gender-neutralness/mixed genderness of "guys" is extremely context dependent, as well as probably regional.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:49 AM on November 7 [13 favorites]


To my shame, even though I've stopped doing this in my written communication, I find myself still doing it when I speak and far too often in professional settings, and I always feel like I'm letting the MetaFilter side down when I do so, and I thank you for that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:03 AM on November 7 [8 favorites]


It's definitely regional, there's maps. Which makes it harder to quit, but the more people work on it, the easier it is.
posted by aniola at 10:14 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah me too. I can also hear the reactionary anti-PC crowd yelling in my head “Oh come on, it’s gender neutral! It’s 2017!” but I see how it’s problematic and I try not to do it. Thanks to all you Mefi Folks once again for raising my awareness.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:16 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I use "you guys" in a jokey context here sometimes, but have mostly transitioned to "you all" "y'all" and "folks". The "folks" is almost entirely due to cortex. All three make me sound way more southern than I actually am or want to sound.
posted by lalex at 11:02 AM on November 7


Once I started trying to pay a little attention to it, I realized that generic "guys" is super duper wired into my speech patterns after decades of use. I've tried to pay more active attention to it, and will substitute something else in when I notice, but I'm guessing it'd be easy to find me using it regularly without thinking about it even though I am in principle thinking about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:39 AM on November 7 [8 favorites]


I can also hear the reactionary anti-PC crowd yelling in my head “Oh come on, it’s gender neutral! It’s 2017!”

The wonderful podcast The Allusionist recently did an episode on the origins and use of guy which also referenced a long academic article on how guy is indeed replacing man in colloquial spoken English. So as much as people might claim gender neutrality, the people actually studying the word are saying "In American English, guy has emerged with new polysemy developed according to the previously existing models, man and he" so...yeah.
posted by notorious medium at 12:28 PM on November 7 [6 favorites]


I use "you guys" in a jokey context here sometimes, but have mostly transitioned to "you all" "y'all" and "folks"... All three make me sound way more southern than I actually am or want to sound.

Has anyone ever run across an alternate word beyond these three? I don't like any of them but also accept that there are problems with 'guys.' I have yet to find a replacement that feels right so I'm constantly cutting myself off or going with 'everybody.'
posted by halation at 1:21 PM on November 7


If you're old enough to still have any, that last link may have the unintended side effect of reinforcing the language processing structures in your brain that allow you to interpret "man" as gender-neutral. Polysemy can be such a drag, man.

I've half a mind to try and defend the virtues of "guy" against its loss of face as a result of those of you aiming to stop using it, except that it only brings to mind "Guys and Dolls"; so never mind.
posted by sfenders at 1:28 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


Has anyone ever run across an alternate word beyond these three?

After a moment's reflection I realize that I have. Southern Ontario, Canada, 1980's: It was not uncommon, particularly among people who would habitually inject a "fuck" into their sentences every third word or so, another distinctive linguistic trend of the time and place, to say "youse". I'm not sure how it was spelled, actually. Like "you", except plural. Because it has an "s" on the end. I wonder if anyone still says it. At the time, nobody realized the people using it were so far ahead of the rest of us on this problem.

I'm going stick with my long-standing ambition to make "y'all" universally accepted instead.
posted by sfenders at 1:45 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I'm going stick with my long-standing ambition to make "y'all" universally accepted instead.

I've long used y'all as a replacement for guys, and here in Rhode Island, it always grinds the conversation to a halt. "Y'all? What, are you from the South or something?" No, but it's a great word, and I'll use it until New Englanders come up with our own regional alternative.

(For Reasons, I also say sorry like I'm straight outta Toronto, and that stops conversations, too. Rhode Islanders do not like other accents, sheesh.)
posted by Ruki at 2:00 PM on November 7 [5 favorites]


I use "peeps," FWIW.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:20 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


"Y'all? What, are you from the South or something?"

New Yorker here. Yeah, I love the word but using it sort of feels like when everyone made fun of Madonna for developing a British accent. On the other hand I am Madonna in this analogy so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
posted by lalex at 2:24 PM on November 7 [9 favorites]


Another person chiming in here to say that because of MetaFilter, I've become aware of this and have been trying to avoid using it. I substitute "folks", and haven't gotten much "are you Southern" pushback here in California.

Although now I kind of want to start using "ladies" in every situation where I'd use "guys", just to see what kind of wrench-in-the-spokes effect that would have.
posted by scrump at 2:41 PM on November 7 [6 favorites]


"Guys" still sneaks out sometimes but I'm super-aware of it and try not to. I've been using "folks" or just reconstructing my sentence. Folks doesn't really roll of the tongue easily here in Toronto Ontario Canada but yeah there's no chance of "y'all" entering my vocabulary without out people giving me a what-the-fuck-are-you-doing look, so here we are.
posted by chococat at 2:55 PM on November 7


y'all, you, folks, yinz, you uns, you lot, yous, youse, ye, allyuh... so many fantastic options.
posted by aniola at 2:56 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]


Has anyone ever run across an alternate word beyond these three? I don't like any of them but also accept that there are problems with 'guys.'

"People." Or, during formal conversation, "People of Earth."
posted by The Great David S. Pumpkins at 3:14 PM on November 7 [13 favorites]


youse - Australian usage. Can't bring myself to use it though.
posted by unliteral at 3:15 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I found this one--are you thinking of a more recent discussion instead?
posted by calgirl at 3:26 PM on November 7


“Guys” is a regional usage, as someone pointed out above. Where I was born, grew up, and have lived my whole life is part of my identity, and nope, I’m not going to use “y’all,” “you lot,” or “folks,” all of which sound totally affected coming from a native New Yorker. If someone wants to be offended by my use of a gender-neutral regionalism, that’s fine, but it’s on them.
posted by holborne at 3:53 PM on November 7 [8 favorites]


I do tend to use it with gender neutral intent. I will try to avoid doing so in the future.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:54 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]


In writiing use “ya’s” a lot..like in an email to a group:

Hi Ya’s,
Bla bla etc.
posted by The_Auditor at 3:57 PM on November 7


Thanks for the links to old threads and to the Allusionist podcast!
posted by OmieWise at 4:10 PM on November 7


Has anyone ever run across an alternate word beyond these three?

Although now I kind of want to start using "ladies" in every situation where I'd use "guys"

Southern California by way of New York, so for me it's been guy, guys, dude, dudes, as supposedly gender-neutral terms, but at times I've tried "girls" in mixed-gender settings. Getting to unpack why some find that insulting is just a bonus. (Relatedly -- some people should not coach children's athletics.)

I'm trying "folks," despite not being folksy in the slightest. "People" has always had a hard edge to it, but that's probably my childhood talking. Could like "citizens" and would mean fellow global citizens, in an affectionate, we're-all-in-this-together way, but obviously that is right out. Have used "cats and kittens" and "chickadees" when I know the group well enough.

But yeah, I've MetaFilter to thank for raising my consciousness (and highlighting my own internalized misogyny) about this.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:17 PM on November 7


I have made a conscious effort - probably since that MeTa, honestly - to switch away from my native Chicagoan "guys" and mostly landed on "folks", with "y'all" running a close second and the occasional "beautiful people" or similar. It was a bit of effort at first but mostly works now, and it feels way more congruent with the way I want the world to work.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:22 PM on November 7 [2 favorites]


To me, a native New Yorker, "youse" is the vernacular of The Bowery Boys' circa 1930 movies (I caught the Saturday morning re-runs as a kid).

"Guys" is my natural go to when speaking, a leftover from the 1960's. When I write, I tend to use "folks," and "y'all" will not fly with my friends here in NYC.

But ... it's an interesting point to ponder as I've always considered "guys" gender neutral. Different time, you know?
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 5:01 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]


I've long used y'all as a replacement for guys, and here in Rhode Island, it always grinds the conversation to a halt. "Y'all? What, are you from the South or something?" No, but it's a great word, and I'll use it until New Englanders come up with our own regional alternative.

If I'm being honest, I've always been bothered by the way people use the word "y'all." Seeing the way people toss it around on the internet feels like appropriation, and I don't like it. It feels like adopting patterns of speech that come from specific cultural contexts and using them as if that context never existed. I've known plenty of people who say "y'all" as a point of (regional, ethnic, whatever) pride, and I also know people who are very self-conscious about ever saying "y'all," even though it's what they grew up with, because they're self-conscious about looking uneducated.

In other words, it's not a simple term without its own baggage, at least as far as I'm concerned.

I'm sure there are people who disagree very much with me, and I'm not trying to start a fight over this, but I've been wanting to get this off my chest for a while. I really, really don't like the way so many people on the internet have adopted "y'all" like it's just theirs to use. I don't think people are bad or wrong for using it, but it bothers me, personally.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:20 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


Many of my colleagues here in Australia use "you mob" but it's a bit culturally appropriative so I don't. Y'all and folks really don't work in Australia unless you want to be laughed at for play acting American. Yous has a distinct demographic context and I can get away with it as a NZer but most middle class Australians sound whatever the opposite of pretentious is when they do it. Or worse, like they are making fun of non-middle-class people. I don't know what the average educated urban Australian has available to them for this gap except for "you guys".
posted by lollusc at 5:36 PM on November 7 [6 favorites]


I really, really don't like the way so many people on the internet have adopted "y'all" like it's just theirs to use.

I ain't saying y'all have to use "y'all," but I am saying that if y'all did, there ain't many of us who'd be offended, and of the ones who might be, well, y'all should just go on and offend 'em.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:42 PM on November 7 [4 favorites]


Shorter me: "Y'all" is one of the southern US's great contributions to civilization and we're proud to share it with y'all.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:46 PM on November 7 [18 favorites]


More than y'all wanted to know about "y'all"

h/t: MeFi's own languagehat
posted by zombieflanders at 6:42 PM on November 7 [2 favorites]


'Youse' gets a lot fancier when you spell it 'youx'.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:58 PM on November 7 [13 favorites]


Convincing people of that would be quite the clever roux.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:29 PM on November 7 [11 favorites]


If I'm being honest, I've always been bothered by the way people use the word "y'all."

I'm sorry it bothers you, and I can see why it would. When I was growing up, I spent my summers in several y'all saying states and it came home with me. I once did a presentation in my college sociolinguistics class about my family because our home language was English with New England and Southern US idioms, a dash of a Toronto area accent, mixed with Canadian French, Polish, and Vietnamese. Conversations could get weird. So while it's something I grew up with, I get your point.

Reading that back, spent my summers sounds posher than reality. We drove down in an RV, towing our car.
posted by Ruki at 7:36 PM on November 7


Similarly, I grew up in a legitimately "y'all" saying household transplanted in my childhood from the South to the North. While some people today might hear me say "y'all" and think it's appropriative, they would be judging from ignorance - I've always said it, didn't appropriate it from anyone, and don't plan to stop.
posted by Miko at 7:55 PM on November 7


I'm from Texas and I encourage alla y'all to use y'all. It's downright friendly, it's inclusive. I work at a co-op so we also make use of comrade.

And yeah, alla y'all is the even more plural of y'all.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:15 PM on November 7 [7 favorites]


To my shame, even though I've stopped doing this in my written communication, I find myself still doing it when I speak and far too often in professional settings, and I always feel like I'm letting the MetaFilter side down when I do so, and I thank you for that.

These days I try to use "Friends" or "Folks" when addressing a group. But also I am SoCal born and bred so often as not I catch myself addressing all manner of people as "Dude".
posted by vignettist at 11:18 PM on November 7 [4 favorites]


Y'all and folks really don't work in Australia unless you want to be laughed at for play acting American. Yous has a distinct demographic context and I can get away with it as a NZer but most middle class Australians sound whatever the opposite of pretentious is when they do it.

Totally agree that "yous" is off-limits: my accent is middle class South Australian (i.e., I pronounce "graph" and "plant" the correct way), and I can't say the word "yous" without coming off like a jerk. But "folks" works really well in that accent I think? The "l" is silent, and when you add the Australian vowel sounds it rhymes with "oaks". Hearing "folks" in my accent doesn't feel especially American to me - I end up thinking more of old European folk tales or something? But maybe that's just me having a pretentious accent.
posted by saltbush and olive at 11:30 PM on November 7


"Gentlemen and mesdames."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:59 PM on November 7


shapes that haunt the dusk: I really, really don't like the way so many people on the internet have adopted "y'all" like it's just theirs to use.

I'm sorry to hear that. I use "y'all" online because your language lacks an unambivalently plural version of "you".
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:41 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


I encourage everyone to use y'all because then perhaps the kind of people who crow with delighted contempt over any regional speech would lose one more club to beat us with.

I have started using comrades but that one is tricky in some settings.
posted by winna at 4:53 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


It helps to have a variety to choose from, such as:
Dudes and dudettes
you fuckers
comrades
fuck trophys
ya'll
folks
you assholes
you fucking muggles
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


As a child of the 70s, I always hear Rita Moreno in my head when this topic comes up.

"Folks" is too corny for me personally. "Peeps" is good for limited casual situations but not universal. Mixed messages on y'all.

Just to maximize social awkwardness in the future, I think I'll go with "fellow humans."
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:42 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I'm a reluctant southerner, and I've never much cared for y'all. And folks, is fine, but it has always sounded so very High School Administrator to me. The gender-neutral guys thing is hard not to do, though I've been working on it. I feel like at this point I say "guys" mostly when I'm talking about animals. Like, "did you see those guys (deer) in the yard? they're totally eating the garden"
posted by thivaia at 7:41 AM on November 8


MetaFilter: I've never much cared for y'all
posted by The Great David S. Pumpkins at 8:28 AM on November 8 [7 favorites]


it has always sounded so very High School Administrator to me.

What? No love for the high school teacher's "People"? Ok, people! Settle down!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:37 AM on November 8 [7 favorites]


As a nonbinary trans person, I can testify that using casual gendered language like "guys" is a cool, easy way to make the trans people around you feel crummy.

The main reason I've worked to erase "guys" from my vocabulary is that it hurts the trans women in my life. They told me that it hurts them, and asked that people stop, and that's good enough for me.
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:57 AM on November 8 [9 favorites]


Bro... I had no idea.

Kidding. KIDDING. I've switched over to y'all and folks. I still have the use of "guys" mentally filed as more of an area where we could all do better than as an intentional transgression, but it bears mention and deserves our attention either way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:00 AM on November 8


That lame gag was timed poorly. And my "bro" even as a joke, was aimed at the original post not the comment above mine, which I hadn't seen until posting.

Probably works as a handy object lesson in the many ways a person can stand to try harder and do better though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:05 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Yinz!

I use folks.
posted by terrapin at 9:06 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


Being a southerner born and raised, I'm a big fan of "y'all," and that's how I write it, though I don't get as mad as languagehat when other folks spell it wrong. What does get my dander up is when non-southerners use "y'all" to refer to a singular person. We don't do that, y'all. Not much, anyway.
posted by solotoro at 9:23 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I picked up "y'all" after fourteen years in Texas - I can see how it'd feel weird if it was never part of your local dialect. (But so handy!)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:50 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


What? No love for the high school teacher's "People"? Ok, people! Settle down!

octobersurprise, thank you! Now I know why I have negative associations with that word being used to address a group.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:23 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I picked up "y'all" after fourteen years in Texas - I can see how it'd feel weird if it was never part of your local dialect. (But so handy!)

18 years in Texas and it absolutely became a part of my vernacular. When I first moved to Canada back in 2001 I would drop ya'll bombs all the time and the looks I would receive. People thought I was some insane person.

Crazy, eh.
posted by Fizz at 11:26 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


For larger crowds - according to Jeff Foxworthy, anyway - "you'uns" / "y'inz" is "y'all" plus three.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:17 PM on November 8


If you're uncomfortable about using "y'all," then use the formal form: you all. Pronounce them as two separate words.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 12:23 PM on November 8 [5 favorites]


*ahem*
posted by Fizz at 12:40 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I have had no problems using "people" or "folks" as general terms, and "y'all" with specific groups. When addressing a larger group (e.g. a group that contains people I know and people I don't know), I tend to use "everybody" or "everyone," as in "Hey, everybody, what are we having on our pizzas?" or "What does everyone want on their pizzas?"

THEN we get into the real arguments.
posted by tzikeh at 12:45 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


folks isn't too close to folkish is it?
posted by aniola at 1:27 PM on November 8


halfbuckaroo has it. I'm from the US North but now live in the South, and you all works for me, standing halfway in between you guys and y'all.
posted by umbú at 7:24 PM on November 8


Native Tarheel here and, of course, y'all is the most useful contraction ever. And, as noted above, is never singular. If you need to address a mob of folk, then you use "all y'all." I get outraged when people, any people, southerners or not, misspell it as "ya'll" as that's just dumb. I also find the possessive "y'allses" useful. If I don't wish to appear too southern, I use "folks" or "people." I don't think I ever got into the "guys" habit."
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:02 PM on November 8


I don't know what the average educated urban Australian has available to them for this gap except for "you guys".

Nothing, really. My female sociolinguistics professor, who comes from a German-speaking background with 'ihr' at her disposal and who I expect would certainly have used such a term in Australian English if it existed, only ever addressed us with 'you guys' (most of the time) or 'everyone' (to get our attention at the start of the lecture or when she was trying to tell us about assignments). I might occasionally use 'folks' if I want to be faux-jaunty, but that's just my idiolect—and yeah, 'you mob', 'y'all' and 'you all' are just out of the question, as is 'youse', which is firmly the preserve of my cousin from Newcastle.

Actually, an American writer had some interesting observations on this topic in a long, fun essay on MasterChef Australia that was linked on the blue a few months back:
In the U.S. and Canada, small children are boys and girls, and then in their tweens the boys start to be called “guys” while the girls stay girls well into legal adulthood.  And so Elizabeth and I had many exchanges that went like this:

“I saw a cute girl today!”
“As in six and adorable, or as in twenty‐two and hot?”

Then at some unspecified point “girl” is abruptly considered demeaning and even in informal contexts you have to use “woman”, while a guy remains a guy forever.  Suboptimal.  But Australia has come up with a solution to this lack of parity!  Unless the way people talk on Masterchef Australia is totally unrepresentative, the solution is this: boys remain boys forever.  Girls remain girls forever.  It seems like cutesy schtick—​because, yes, in the U.S., an eighty‐year‐old might meet up with “the girls” for bridge or with “the boys” for poker, and that is cutesy schtick—​but I eventually gathered that in Australia it is not schtick.  They actually do just use “girl” to mean “female human of any age” and “boy” to mean “male human of any age”.  And “guy” seems to mean “human of any sex”!  It was completely commonplace for a female team captain to turn to her two female lieutenants and ask, “Okay, guys, what should our entrée be?”
posted by Panthalassa at 8:41 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I often replace "guys" with "friends." But it depends on my audience and how likely I think anyone will care. I for sure still use guys when very excited about something: "Guys. GUYS! Did you see the election results last night???"
"Friends" will just not work in that instance. Language is tricky.
posted by greermahoney at 12:34 AM on November 9


As a Brit, the idea of saying "y'all" is... well I'd sound like I was doing a cowboy impression. That said, I am trying to eliminate "guys" and replace it with "everyone" which works in most contexts.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:58 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


If you're uncomfortable about using "y'all," then use the formal form: you all. Pronounce them as two separate words.

This also works, for example instead of "what do you guys want for lunch?" ==> "what do you all want for lunch?" (or "what does everyone want...").
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:01 AM on November 9


I picked up a guy in a housing project and it was a long ride to the homeless shelter and he told me he was going there because if he didn't he was certain his domestic situation was going to erupt in violence. Then he was kind of embarrassed so to break that I told him about a well intentioned mistake I made when I was his age.

When he got out I wished him well and he said You too motherfucker in the kindest way. You'd have to hear it said the right way. Derek McGinty did a program about this in the early nineties but I can't find it.

So maybe we can all be motherfuckers. I'll start using that here instead of folks and see how it goes.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:09 AM on November 9 [10 favorites]


I often replace "guys" with "friends." But it depends on my audience and how likely I think anyone will care. I for sure still use guys when very excited about something: "Guys. GUYS! Did you see the election results last night???"
"Friends" will just not work in that instance.


That's the perfect situation for "Comrades! COMRADES!" though. (Or, on preview, "MotherFUCKERS!")
posted by lollusc at 4:38 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


I have no idea why yez are finding this so hard.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


"Comrade Motherfucker" (or "Comrades Motherfuckers") seems to be the solution towards which the discussion is heading.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:18 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


"Youse" is also used up and down the Mississippi without irony. Drove me nuts.

I tend to use guy, and even dude, in a gender neutral manner (though the latter would be with irony). I used to use kids as my go to word of choice, since I used to work with a lot of people who were mostly older than I was, so rather than ladies, or or gents, or folks, it would be, "What are you kids up to?" That's fallen by the wayside as now most the people I work with are within my age group and I am getting older as well, so it's lost any charm or humor (if it ever had any).
posted by cjorgensen at 9:28 AM on November 9


A few times I've just said "you plural."
posted by michaelh at 12:12 PM on November 9 [2 favorites]


I tend to use guy, and even dude, in a gender neutral manner

One aspect of this that I don't see commented on much, but is interesting to me is that I'll read either of those as gender neutral, but only in direct address. So like the above "Guys! Did you see the thing?" or "dude! What the fuck?" but in the third person (those guys, that dude) it'd read as entirely gendered.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:00 PM on November 9 [10 favorites]


Even if people think their use is gender-neutral, a significant portion of us can never hear it that way. So it’s at best ambiguous, at worst exclusionary. It’s one of those things where you might choose to change your language not based on your personal intent or how it sounds to you, but how it potentially comes off to others. And even how it potentially does damage to identity even if no one consciously or vocally objects.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on November 9 [5 favorites]


Suboptimal.  But Australia has come up with a solution to this lack of parity!  Unless the way people talk on Masterchef Australia is totally unrepresentative, the solution is this: boys remain boys forever.  Girls remain girls forever

This is absolutely off the table in the U.S., as there is a very large percentage of the American population for whom bringing back this usage would be horrifically insulting.

Another vote for y'all. I've always championed its usage as it is the only 2nd person plural in English that's truly neutral. Friends here in the PNW occasionally mocked me for it, until I began pointing out their own unconscious usage of the term. I'm convinced it's far more widespread than people even realize; they just don't hear themselves using it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:38 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


What about "you lot," something I've heard on occasion from UKians.
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I am from the UK, and "you lot" is just too informal. I might use it when trying to get the attention of a group of friends, but I'd be unwilling to use it in any other context.

Personally, I'm inclined to go with "People" and "Everybody/everyone". I would never use "Y'all" because it would just not sound right with my accent - it isn't the universal solution to the plural-you issue, as many non-US English speakers in this thread have already indicated! I never said "you guys" because, well, I'm not a guy and don't want to be referred to as one - same with "dudes". "Folks" is just not a word that would occur to me to use in this context.

So "people" and "everyone" it is for me.
posted by Rissa at 11:21 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


In the U.S., I've only heard "you lot" as part of "Listen up, you lot..." Even when said with a smile, it can be a bit abrasive.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:28 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


My experience as a middle-class white northerner who's been using "y'all" since high school is that people don't ask me why I'm talking like a southerner — they ask me (in more or less beat-around-the-bush-y ways) why I'm talking like I'm poor and/or Black.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:04 PM on November 10


This is absolutely off the table in the U.S., as there is a very large percentage of the American population for whom bringing back this usage would be horrifically insulting.

For sure. The broader point is just that, for some people in some places, there's no alternative to 'you guys', and I hope other MeFi users can be cognisant of that.
posted by Panthalassa at 5:02 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


there's no alternative to 'you guys'

"You all" is the alternative. Two words.
posted by Miko at 6:12 PM on November 10


there's no alternative to 'you guys'

Folks
People
Peeps
Everybody
All
I know you can hear me
etc…

There are alternatives, and if you care about what other people say about our experience of being on the receiving end of "guys" you'll make an effort to find one to use.
posted by Lexica at 6:55 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


All I'm trying to hint at is that while I'll certainly try not to use 'guys' on MetaFilter, where it has the power to hurt people, I'm not going to be able to back that up in my everyday spoken usage, which takes place in a broad speech community in which 'guys', presently, as a term of address, is ubiquitous, gender-neutral, lacks any identity-threatening connotations, and is in many situations the only way of addressing multiple people without causing miscommunications, because the alternatives suggested here are themselves all marked for distinct styles and registers. So I hope you'll be lenient with me and the other people in my situation if we forget.
posted by Panthalassa at 8:00 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


a broad speech community in which 'guys', presently, as a term of address, is ubiquitous, gender-neutral, lacks any identity-threatening connotations, and is in many situations the only way of addressing multiple people without causing miscommunications

Wait now — what’s your evidence for describing this as your “speech community”?
posted by Miko at 9:26 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]

Australian Oxford English Dictionary editor and ANU expert Dr Amanda Laugesen said the word "guys" was inclusive of men and women and had been gender-neutral for at least 10 to 15 years in Australia.

[...]

Macquarie Dictionary senior editor Victoria Morgan said in Australia, teenagers started using "guys" as a gender neutral term in the '80s and it has been since been used to refer to groups of people of both gender. She added the word "guys" was not a term that carried an inherently sexist connotation and came into usage without any power struggle between the genders.

"It's not like terms like chairman or air hostess, which has origins in a patriarchal system and definitely not gender neutral," she said.

[...]

Dr Laugesen said while the meaning of the word had evolved, older people might be more reluctant to use the word in a more gender-inclusive way.

"I think there is still a bit of a generational gap in the sense they are slightly more likely to find it offensive because it has more of a gender connotation," Dr Laugesen said.

"The younger generation would use it very much in a gender neutral sense."
Are the perceptions of lexicological experts enough? How else would you like to demand I verify the basic facts of my linguistic reality for your satisfaction? Do I have to provide proof I'm a young queer man who lives in Sydney, Australia, speaks Australian English natively, studies linguistics, and regularly interacts with people who experience gender in a variety of different ways before I am allowed to speak about the most simple and uncontroversial meanings of the words we use?

As other Australians in the thread have confirmed, 'y'all' and 'you all' construct an American identity: not very helpful for an Australian. 'Peeps' is outdated and I haven't said it unironically since primary school. 'Folks' sounds way too, well, folksy to be used unironically. 'People', 'everybody' and 'everyone' all convey social distance and are most commonly used by people in some kind of hierarchy—a team leader to their staff or a teacher to their pupils, for example. 'Youse' would be appropriating lower-class speech.

Only 'guys' is colloquial with a pleasantly neutral stance. Nevertheless, I'm obviously not going to use it to address people who don't want me to. When I want to be colloquial with them, I'll probably just avoid constructions with address terms altogether—and that's completely fine. It just so happens that 100% of the people who have ever expressed an objection to 'guys' reside on this website, and 0% within the people I actually communicate with regularly in real life. So I'm just alerting the MeFi community to this fact in case I slip up, and also for the benefit of other users who have never seen this MeTa and for whom the use of 'guys' is the only real term for the job in their daily lives, because those people do in fact exist. And all I'm asking for is your consideration in those instances.
posted by Panthalassa at 12:31 AM on November 11 [9 favorites]


Geez—I thought "guys" was gender neutral. I'm 63 years old I don't recall a time when "you guys" brought to mind a group of boys/men and/or would be an inappropriate way to refers to 2 or more girls/women. (I'm talking casual usage here. In more formal situations, I wouldn't refer to any group of people as "guys".)

As they say, language evolves. In a world where "literally" can also mean "figuratively" and "impacted" isn't reserved to described medical issues, there is no reason to classify "guys" as a sexist term.
posted by she's not there at 3:27 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


there is no reason to classify "guys" as a sexist term

There certainly is: the reasons is that it is used in the US, in a lot of contexts, to mean "only men." Satirical example of a real-life common usage.
posted by Miko at 8:10 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Although now I kind of want to start using "ladies" in every situation where I'd use "guys", just to see what kind of wrench-in-the-spokes effect that would have.

the first time I went "oh that's what it's like to be on the receiving end of someone using 'guys' as a gender-neutral word" was on a weekend at the beach with a bunch of friends where I was the only male. "so ladies, what are we up to today? oh yeah I mean you too russm". I knew I was included in the group, but still it was just that bit jarring. and that wasn't all the time, from all of society, just one weekend with me and some friends.

I still say "guys" sometime as a generic group term, because socialisation and general usage and I haven't managed to erase it from my vocab, but yeah really why not just make the effort to use some word that doesn't cause that minor jarring unease in people who you're talking to? I'd like to go with "youse" because I'm Australian, but tend to end up on "y'all"
posted by russm at 2:34 AM on November 12 [2 favorites]


I genuinely use the word "humans" when I don't use "y'all." "Oh, hello, humans." It probably works because I am a weird human. "Motherfuckers" seems - uh, obviously problematic. I do also call groups of people "ladies" regardless of makeup, but thinking on it, I probably wouldn't if a male trans friend were around, so I probably shouldn't. I hopefully retain the right to say "Look, lady," to a cis male friend if we're having a friendly argument. This is a check-in and I'm not sure I'm right about anything, so please don't worry if you wanna correct me on stuff.
posted by lauranesson at 5:10 PM on November 12


I sometimes jokingly used 'lady' for cis male friends, and then started wondering why I did that and what it meant. I concluded that I meant it in a friendly but nevertheless unflattering way, and so apparently it was meant to be mocking or slightly degrading.
I do not want to use a word that basically means 'woman' in a negative way, because I do not feel that it is or should be a bad thing to be a woman. So I stopped. YMMV, as always.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:24 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


In my eyes:

Ladies != Guys

Ladies == Gentlemen

Therefore
Guys == Dolls

As Ladies : Gentlemen :: Guys : Dolls

given Ladies and Gentlemen now entering into the ring the amazing . .

and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guys_and_Dolls
posted by koolkat at 6:25 AM on November 13


Therefore
Guys == Dolls


For me the parallel usage is "gals." For many years I've called groups of girls and women "gals." It's a word from my grandma's day, but on occasion still has a place.
posted by Miko at 8:26 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Too-Ticky, I thought about this a lot after I wrote that comment, and came to the same conclusion as you. "Lady" shouldn't be an insult.
posted by lauranesson at 8:53 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I used to use "kids" when my co-workers were my age and older. Nowadays, I'm literally old enough to be their Mom, so nope.

"Peeps", "y'all", "you rabble rousers" - those are my go to words.
posted by MissySedai at 9:31 PM on November 14


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