Tag Archives: youse and sibh

Captain, Oh Captain!

I recently noticed another Irish-related stupidity on Sean Williams’s Captain Grammar Pants blog on Facebook. On the 14th of May, in a discussion of the plural forms of you in English, she informs the sheeple who enjoy her particular mixture of incompetence and pedantry that “YOUSE and its variant spellings came into English from the Irish language, and youse will find it in gangster movies from the 1930s and 40s, which feature a disproportionate number of Irish and Irish Americans in the roles of both police officers and criminals.”

Of course, youse did not come from the Irish language. What she means, presumably, is that youse probably originates in the English of Ireland, where it was formed as an English plural of the English word you as the equivalent of the Irish sibh, which is a plural form of you, because Irish speakers were used to making the distinction between singular and plural you and felt uncomfortable speaking without it.

It is extraordinary that whatever nonsense the Captain comes out with, none of the commentators on her blog seem to have even the most basic linguistic knowledge which would enable them to contradict her or correct her obvious and elementary mistakes.