Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Sep 17 15:07:05 UTC 2001

I presented my perhaps sophomoric thoughts on "yo" on 4 May 2001 on this
list. Nobody else seemed interested at that time. I reproduce an excerpt:


(1) "Yo" [multipurpose interjection] = "hey": given by OED from as early as
1420 (as "3aw" ["3" = yogh])

(2) "Walyo" [term of address] = "young man", prob. < Italian (dialect
[e.g., maybe Lucano?]) "uaglio" = "boy"

(3) "Yo" [response] = "yes"/"present" [military etc. from WW II or earlier]
[I speculate < "yeah"/"yes" altered for loud utterance]

(4) "Yo" = dialect version of "you", "your", and probably "y'all"

(5) "Yo" < Spanish term of address "yo": asserted in the Cassell dictionary
[I'm not familiar with this, but I am familiar with a multipurpose
interjection "Coño!" with last-syllable stress ...]

The late-20th-century use as a [masculine] greeting may come from a
conflation of any or all of these.


-- Doug Wilson

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