"Yay long"

Jim Parish jparish at SIUE.EDU
Sat Sep 28 15:20:54 UTC 2013

I have a couple of questions about the expression "yay long" (and its
relatives in other dimensions). I've been familiar with the phrase since
childhood; my brother, a career Navy man, used (and uses) it frequently.

1) I've always assumed that it originated as a piece of Navy slang; is
this so? I'm curious about its origin and about its spread.

2) A friend of mine used the expression a few days ago. (He has, AFAIK,
no connection to the Navy, whence #1.) However, he pronounced it /jai/,
rather than the /jei/ that I'm accustomed to. Is this variant common,
regional, or simply idiosyncratic?

I would appreciate any information on this that anyone can supply.

Jim Parish

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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