This morning I came across the Signspotting site, with amusing signs of all sorts: signs with entertaining names of places, streets, etc., error-ridden signs, puzzling signs, defaced signs, and so on. Among them was this one:

Transylvania University in Lexington KY. The caption:

I Vant Y’all Blood

A play on Dracula’s Transylvania and the location of Lexington in the South, where y’all serves as a 2pl pronoun.

(The possessive form of y’all is either the marked variant y’all’s or the unmarked y’all, as in the caption. I don’t know what the social distribution of the variants is.)

Most people probably don’t know about Transylvania University — I do, because of my association with Lexington — but almost everyone knows about Transylvania as the middle-European homeland of Dracula. So a “Transylvania University” in Kentucky’s horse country strikes most people as hilarious.

Both places are so-called because they are trans-sylvan ‘across the woods’ (from the Latin).

Transylvania University’s website here; from the Wikipedia entry:

Transylvania University is the first university in Kentucky and 16th in the United States, founded in 1780. It offers 36 major programs, as well as dual-degree engineering programs, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Transylvania’s name, meaning “across the woods” in Latin, stems from the university’s founding in the heavily-forested region of western Virginia known as the Transylvania colony, which became most of Kentucky in 1792.

And from the entry for European Transylvania:

Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains …

Transylvania is often associated with Dracula (Bram Stoker’s novel and its film adaptations), and the horror genre in general, while the region is also known for the scenic beauty of its Carpathian landscape and its rich history.

Lexington is picturesque too, but in a different way, and it has no vampire associations.

6 Responses to “Transylvania”

  1. John Baker Says:

    As a native Kentuckian, I find “y’all blood” very wrong. Generally, it would simply be “your blood”; the perceived need to disambiguate plural usage is not as strong when using the possessive form. If a clearly plural possessive were thought to be needed, however, it would be “y’all’s blood.”

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I agree with your judgments, but y’all’s and y’all as possessives are well attested. Now, the usage *in central Kentucky* is another matter.

      • John Baker Says:

        Yes, I’m specifically addressing the usage that would prevail at Transylvania University and not questioning your assertion that there is, somewhere, a possessive “y’all.”

  2. the ridger Says:

    From East Tennessee, and y’all’s would be what we’d say – though ‘your’ would be probably more common. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered ‘y’all’ as a possessive, though I suppose I might have.

  3. Jenny Says:

    Transylvania, Romania is also the place where Unitarianism got its start.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      What the Wikipedia says is:

      The first modern, organized Unitarians, although not called Unitarians initially, were found in Poland and Transylvania from the 1540s onwards, though many of them were Italians.

      Still, a fascinating fact, since we’re inclined to think of Unitarianism as originally an English and New England thing.

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