[Ads-l] antedating "yay"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 26 22:47:04 EDT 2021


> On Sep 26, 2021, at 10:27 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> Margaret Winters wrote:
>> So the origin is something akin to the arm pump with a yelled out 'YES!!!'?
> 
> OED suggests two possible etymologies for the interjection yay
> 
> yay, int.
> slang.   An exclamation of triumph, approval, or encouragement.
> Etymology: Perhaps < yay adv., used as an exclamation, or < yeah adv.
> used similarly with alteration of ending (compare 'ray aphetic form of
> hooray int.).
> 
> yay, adv.
> U.S. slang.
>   In phrases yay big (or yay high), ‘this big’, ‘this high’:
> frequently accompanied by a gesture indicating the size intended

Odd on this one above. I’ve always seen that (and spelled it myself) as “yea high/big”, not “yay”.  Someone, maybe Charles Fillmore, pointed out that it’s the one English word that can never be used on the phone.  Of course that was before FaceTime or Skype.  

LH
> 
> yeah, adv.
> colloquial (originally U.S.).
> 1. Yes.
> 2. yeah, right: (used ironically to express contempt or incredulity
> with respect to a preceding statement) ‘not likely’, ‘if you say so’.
> 
> Garson
> 
> ____________________________
>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>> Sent: Friday, September 24, 2021 9:57 AM
>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Subject: Re: antedating "yay"
>> 
>> [EXTERNAL]
>> 
>> Me too. Respelling.
>> 
>> Yeas and nays.
>> 
>> JL
>> 
>> On Fri, Sep 24, 2021 at 6:06 AM Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
>> 
>>> I've always assumed that the interjection "yay" represented a misspelling
>>> (or respelling) of "yea."
>>> 
>>> --Charlie
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
>>> ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>>> Sent: Friday, September 24, 2021 4:48 AM
>>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Subject: Re: antedating "yay"
>>> 
>>> [EXTERNAL SENDER - PROCEED CAUTIOUSLY]
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Below is a longer excerpt from the 1898 citation. This citation may
>>> show a transition of "Yeah" from the sense "Yes" to the sense "An
>>> exclamation of triumph, approval, or encouragement".
>>> 
>>> Date: August 28, 1898
>>> Newspaper: The Sunday State Journal (Nebraska State Journal)
>>> Newspaper Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
>>> Article: Arrive While Fight Is On
>>> Quote Page 11, Column 3
>>> Database: Newspapers.com
>>> 
>>> https://www.newspapers.com/image/333758867/?terms=Yeah
>>> 
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> First came the news that dispatches could only be received from Hong Kong.
>>> "Yes, Yes," from a thousand throats, while as many immediately commanded
>>> "Hush!"
>>> "An aggressive warfare is being carried on in Cuba. In a combined sea
>>> and land attack on Santiago de Cuba from four to six thousand
>>> Spaniards were lost—get that?"
>>> "Yeah—hooray—hip-hip—4,600 Spaniards—hooray—"
>>> "And 800 Americans—"
>>> "Oooh"—and then in a cry of rage and anger—"To hell with Spain."
>>> "A fleet has sailed from America for Spain"
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> 
>>> Garson
>>> 
>>> On Fri, Sep 24, 2021 at 4:26 AM ADSGarson O'Toole
>>> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> Interesting topic, Ben. Below is an instance of "Yeah—hooray—hip-hip"
>>>> in 1898, and "yeah" appears to be functioning as an alternative
>>>> spelling for the exclamation "yay".
>>>> 
>>>> The OED lists "yeah" as an adverb with the sense "Yes"; first citation
>>>> in 1863. But I didn't see "yeah" as an alternate spelling for "yay".
>>>> 
>>>> Date: August 28, 1898
>>>> Newspaper: The Sunday State Journal (Nebraska State Journal)
>>>> Newspaper Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
>>>> Article: Arrive While Fight Is On
>>>> Quote Page 11, Column 3
>>>> Database: Newspapers.com
>>>> 
>>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>>> "Yeah—hooray—hip-hip—4,600 Spaniards—hooray—"
>>>> "And 800 Americans—"
>>>> "Oooh"—and then in a cry of rage and anger—"To hell with Spain."
>>>> "A fleet has sailed from America for Spain"
>>>> [End excerpt]
>>>> 
>>>> Below is a "Yeah! Hooray!" in 1906 although the date should be double
>>> checked.
>>>> 
>>>> Year: Copyright 1906 (Juvenile series; date should be double checked)
>>>> Book Title: Captain Jack Lorimer: Or, The Young Athletes of Millvale High
>>>> Author: Winn Standish (Walter Leon Sawyer)
>>>> Chapter 35: Tried by the Test of Defeat
>>>> Quote Page 230
>>>> Publisher: A. L. Burt Company, New York.
>>>> 
>>>> https://books.google.com/books?id=LtcqAAAAYAAJ&q=Yeah#v=snippet&
>>>> 
>>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>>> "And —  say — you're goin to have a chance, by gum! Say, didn't your
>>>> Bussey, the long-legged countryman, score a goal then? Yeah! Hooray!
>>>> Hooray for our side!" The old man finished with a roar that made every
>>>> one turn smilingly to look.
>>>> [End excerpt]
>>>> 
>>>> Garson
>>>> 
>>>> On Fri, Sep 24, 2021 at 2:05 AM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> 
>>>>> In a recent episode of the Merriam-Webster podcast "Words Matter,"
>>> Emily
>>>>> Brewster mentions that the interjection "yay" has only been dated by
>>> M-W to
>>>>> 1963, surprisingly enough. (OED3's earliest cite is from the same
>>> year.)
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>> https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-matters-podcast/episode-56-compound-words
>>>>> 
>>>>> On Twitter, Daniel Radosh noted that "yay hooray" appears in the 1954
>>> Marc
>>>>> Blitzstein translation of "The Wedding Song" from "The Threepenny
>>> Opera."
>>>>> https://twitter.com/danielradosh/status/1441208269112954880
>>>>> 
>>>>> Inspired by this, I managed to find examples of "yay" collocating with
>>>>> "hooray" from the 1920s, in Martin Branner's comic strip "Winnie
>>> Winkle."
>>>>> In both of these cites, the characters are young children celebrating
>>> among
>>>>> themselves.
>>>>> 
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/85888992/yay-fellers/
>>>>> "Winnie Winkle," Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1922, Comics, p. 2
>>>>> "Yay, fellers! My pop's gonna umpire th' game for us!"
>>>>> "Hooray for Perry Winkle!"
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/85889664/yay-muggsy/
>>>>> "Winnie Winkle," Kansas City Star, June 13, 1926, Comics, p. 2
>>>>> "Hooray for Muggsy!"
>>>>> "Yay - Muggsy won th' game for us!!"
>>>>> ---
>>>>> 
>>>>> There are earlier examples of "yay" in comic strips, e.g.:
>>>>> 
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/85888914/yay-yay/
>>>>> "Squirrel Food," Meriden (Conn.) Daily Journal, July 3, 1918, p. 10
>>>>> "Yay! Yay!"
>>>>> ---
>>>>> 
>>>>> ...but that's not clearly a celebratory exclamation like the later
>>> ones.
>>>>> 
>>>>> --bgz
>>>>> 
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>>> 
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>>> 
>> 
>> 
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>> 
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> 
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