[Ads-l] "Yay long"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 3 19:20:26 EDT 2017


Interesting how much of the early usage was centered in Oregon. And if JL's
recollection of Bugs Bunny using it is correct, that would fit too, as Mel
Blanc hailed from Portland, OR.


On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 6:15 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY RDECOM
AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:

> Bend OR _The Bend Bulletin_ 24 Sep 1941 p 27 col 2
> "Dress goods -- woolens, cottons, in astonishing array, plaids, corduroys,
> it's all there at Wetle's, with books yea-big of patterns, for those handy
> with a needle."
>
> La Grande OR _La Grande Observer_ 11 May 1943 p 6 col 1
> "Fireman Oscar Marshall put Sunday afternoon to good use by catching a
> fine limit of trout from the Wallowa river, including several which were
> "oh, about yay big!" "
>
> La Grande OR _La Grande Observer_ 24 Jun 1943 p 1 col 2
> "Due to Jean's age and size, she will have to wait awhile to enlist in the
> WAAC, but she won't have to wait long for her uniform, which is size -- oh,
> well, about so long . . . and yay wide, complete with metal military
> buttons."




On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 2:16 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> From a bit later in 1950, this article quotes a lecture by Randall V.
> Mills (misidentified as Randall C. Mills), who was an English professor at
> University of Oregon. He was also active in the American Dialect Society
> and served as associate editor for Western Folklore.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_V._Mills
>
> Eugene (Oregon) Guard, July 28, 1950, p. 16
> Some of the Oregon terms have the origins deep in the history of the
> British Isles, he said, using the expression "yea big" or "yea high" as an
> example. "Yea" in this sense is regarded as antiquated or obsolete by the
> learned men who write dictionaries, he said.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/109232960/
>
>
> On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 1:59 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I don't have access to Publisher Extra on Newspapers.com, but this looks
>> legit...
>>
>> Arizona Republic, Mar. 22, 1950, p. 3
>> Shirley, who says she's been riding since she was "yea high"...
>> https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/116762710/
>>
>>
>> On Sun, Sep 29, 2013 at 12:17 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
>> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>> He is a verified instance in 1956 and an unverified instance that is
>>> probably from 1955.
>>>
>>> [ref] 1956 January, The American Mercury, "She Razzes Executives - and
>>> They Love It!" by Edward Cope, Start Page 103, Quote Page 106, Column
>>> 1,  The American Mercury, Inc., New York. (Unz)
>>>
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> He had just been transferred to a big-city branch of a farm-machine
>>> company and he was, she recalls, a definite country type himself.
>>>
>>> JoVan claimed him as a long-unseen nephew. "Last time I laid eyes on
>>> you, you was yea high." She indicated the height of a four-year-old
>>> child.
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>>
>>>
>>> Here is the match in GB that looks promising. A probe with 1955
>>> indicates that the volume in GB contains at least a section that was
>>> "Published by the SENATE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 1955"
>>>
>>> Year: 1955
>>> Title: Partial report relating to workmen's compensation, Volume 1
>>> Publisher: Senate of the State of California
>>> (Google Books data may be inaccurate)
>>>
>>> http://books.google.com/books?id=gn3zua52issC&q=%22yea+high%
>>> 22#search_anchor
>>>
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> If they were to review all of the evidence and testimony — the record
>>> of a given case — I don't think they could possibly accomplish it. I
>>> have seen some of the files yea high. SENATOR MURDY : You don't think
>>> there would be any
>>> [End excerpt]
>>>
>>> A syndicated column about words and phrases by William Morris
>>> discussed this type of "yea" or "yay" twice in 1964. I will post some
>>> excerpts.
>>>
>>> Garson
>>>
>>> On Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 9:57 PM, Jim Parish <jparish at siue.edu> wrote:
>>> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> > Poster:       Jim Parish <jparish at SIUE.EDU>
>>> > Subject:      Re: "Yay long"
>>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> -------------------
>>> >
>>> > Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>> >> Did Jim Parish or his communicant see "yay" in print, or is it a
>>> >> rendering of something merely spoken?
>>> >>
>>> >> I, like a couple of others, would have spelled it "yea".
>>> >
>>> > I don't recall whether I've ever seen it in print, unless perhaps in a
>>> > letter from my brother; but "yay" has always been the spelling I've
>>> > assigned to it. More, I can see someone reading "yay" and pronouncing
>>> it
>>> > /jai/, as my friend did; I can't see that with the spelling "yea". I'll
>>> > check with both of them and report back.
>>> >
>>> > Jim Parish
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >>
>>> >> How about from "yea, adv.", "3. Used to introduce a statement,
>>> >> phrase, or word, stronger or more emphatic than that immediately
>>> >> preceding: = 'indeed'; 'and more': = yes adv. 4"?  In the example of
>>> >> "yay long", an adverb preceding an adjective and intensifying it?
>>> >>
>>> >> Joel
>>> >>
>>> >> At 9/28/2013 08:19 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>> >>> I too instinctively spell it "yea."
>>> >>>
>>> >>> So what?
>>> >>>
>>> >>> If it's from OE "yea," why did it take a thousand years to appear in
>>> print?
>>> >>>
>>> >>> JL
>>> >>>
>>> >>>
>>> >>> On Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 7:23 PM, Laurence Horn <
>>> laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrote:
>>> >>>
>>> >>>> ---------------------- 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 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.
>>> >>>>
>>> >>>> LH
>>> >>>>> 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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