What're youse doing?

Jun 24, 2019
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Aussie Word of the Week

A stalwart and consistently divisive member of the Australian English language, youse appears to be here to stay.

This unusual word was first recorded back in the 1890s, and is is a borrowing from Irish English, where it is usually spelt yez. It is interesting to note that Irish Gaelic did have a separate plural for the form of the second person pronoun, and thus it is only sensible that they created one in their own variety of English.

1901 `You've stuck at home pretty constant, and ye and Lizer can have a little fly round. It'll do yous good,' she said. 
Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career 187

That said, English you does not distinguish singular from plural. The form youse does provide a plural, contrasting with singular you, but there is strong resistance to it, in spoken as well as written usage, and it remains non-standard.

Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.


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2 Comments

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David - July 5, 2019, 1:05 p.m.

My friend Gil lives in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. When I visit him, I notice that almost everyone with whom I come in contact in that region (except Gil!), uses the plural 'youse' - even people we might describe as well educated. Gil believes it's only a matter of time before 'respectable' people will switch over to 'youse' Not a happy thought.


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Jennifer - Aug. 1, 2019, 10:46 a.m.

I prefer the spelling 'ewes' ...


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