Yak yak yak

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Sep 21 20:16:30 UTC 2002

>I just bought one of those t-shirts for my five-year-old at a garage sale,
>of all places.  It struck me (and the rest of our family) as positively
>perfect for her.  She rarely stops chattering, and I am not exaggerating.  A
>very nice t-shirt with colorful embroidery, btw.
>Did we already address here why people started using "yak" to mean chatter
>in the US?  I presume it did not come from the animal in any way, shape or
The odd part is the spelling, which in some sense "ought" to be YACK.
In fact AHD4 (which simply gives "imitiative" as the origin) does
find "yacking" and "yacked" among the other forms of the verb and
does also list "yack" as an alternate form, although I've rarely seen
it.  And is it really fair to infer that every instance of yakking
(or yacking) involves "to talk persistently and meaninglessly"?  I
could imagine a meaningful tidbit emerging every now and then--"The
professor yakked on and on about the general theory of relativity"
"They went on yakking about who was sleeping with whom".  To me, it's
more the manner than the content that turns into yakking.


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