Recently, a colleague pointed me to this 2018 article by Grace Jennings-Edquist on the word guys. The article discusses whether guys is gender-neutral these days, especially in regard to using it at the workplace. This topic is something that’s been on my mind for a while since you guys is the second-person plural pronoun where I come from. I’ve been actively trying to use other terms when addressing my classes – and not just because most of my students are women.
I have to say that I’m kind of ecstatic about this article. It’s about language and they talk to actual linguists! I know that seems like a low bar to get over, but I’ve read so many news articles about language that go completely off the rails because they don’t do that.
The article is focused on Australian English, but I think some of it is applicable in a wider context because this is a word that’s being used around the English-speaking world. I mean, just look at this:
And context is important, he says. Keep in mind that language you use without trouble outside of work can be non-inclusive at work.
Just because your female friends or your kids are fine being addressed as “guys”, doesn’t mean your women colleagues will appreciate it.
Nail on the head there.
The rest of the article is great and you should check it out. Here’s the link again: https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/is-it-time-to-stop-saying-you-guys-at-work/10240970