"Yay long"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Sep 28 23:23:08 UTC 2013

On Sep 28, 2013, at 7:09 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

> Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/yea) traces this back to OE, then Proto-Germanic and PIE, undifferentiated from "yea" meaning yes.
> The OED speculates that "yay" comes from "yea."
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA

Now that you mention it, I've always spelled the adverb (or visualized it spelled) "yea", not "yay".  Although I suppose if it's a very big fish it could be both.

> Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/videos
> On Sep 28, 2013, at 2:37 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> Bugs Bunny used it. He's neither black nor human. I believe the phrase was
>> "Oh, about yay by yay," with appropriate gestures.
>> I don't know the the title or the date of the cartoon, but it was probably
>> in the early '50s.
>> To judge from GB and NewspaperArchive.com, it seems to be very rare in
>> print.
>> JL
>> On Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 3:06 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrot=
>> e:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>> Subject:      Re: "Yay long"
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
>> ------
>>> On Sep 28, 2013, at 12:57 PM, W Brewer wrote:
>>>> My Chapman's 1986 calls it "A sort of demonstrative adverb used with
>>>> adjectives of size, height, extent, etc. and often accompanied by a han=
>> d
>>>> gesture indicating size". 1950s & esp black. "To this extent; this; so"=
>> .
>>>> Spells it <yea> (YAY).
>>> In the old days, Charles Fillmore used to point out that "yay" is the one
>>> word that can't be sensibly uttered over the phone. (Other demonstratives
>>> have anaphoric uses, but "yay" doesn't, in contexts like "The fish I caug=
>> ht
>>> was {this/that/yay} big.  And you could even say "The agreement is this
>>> close to being signed" without prior mention of what "this" is, but not
>>> "The agreement is yay close to being signed" without my being able to see
>>> you holding your fingers apart=E5=8E=83ay much.
>>> Of course that was before iChat, Skype, and other picture phone
>>> conversations.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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