"yo" (a slightly different example)

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Sep 28 13:48:47 UTC 2001

"The yard needs mowed yo" is my favorite example sentence of the
year. Could we add such a category to the "Word of the Year" contest?
Or would it cheapen that august process.


>>How about:
>>Let's get a taco yo.
>>The yard needs mowed yo.
>>I'm gonna be late for class yo.
>>I've heard them all in the last week.  Neither the "y'know" or "hey"
>>definition seem to fit very well (IMHO), but I can't come up with anything
>It is my speculation that in at least some cases -- perhaps in these ones
>-- this "yo" is probably a vocative "y'all". In some cases it may be a
>'meaningless' noise uttered in imitation of somebody else ... but still
>ultimately a copy of "y'all" ... I suspect originally from popular media of
>some sort.
>A young person of my acquaintance expresses the opinion that
>sentence-terminal "yo" as used at the local school seems to be some version
>of "you". [This person has little acquaintance with "y'all", and the local
>speech typically does not include any pronoun which sounds like "yo".]
>Another young person of similar background who attended the same public
>school a few years earlier does not recognize the "yo" ... maybe it's a new
>arrival here ... or maybe it's just a matter of a different circle of friends.
>-- Doug Wilson

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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