Tuesday, February 04, 2014


   As a writer of fiction that as often as not takes place in an urban or commonplace setting I'm not nit-picky about grammar when it comes to dialog, especially when it comes to informal speech. Who really knows how to spell most modern slang, anyway? A lot of it is as subjective as, say, naming your child Tammi with an 'I' or Tammy with a 'Y.' People often leave their participles hanging in every-day conversations. And it is just as common to end a sentence in a preposition as not. In fact many people look at you oddly if, instead of, "That's something I won't put up with," you were to say, "That's something up with which I won't put."

   But there are one or two things that irritate me when I read them. Not out-right anger, but like an errant cat hair in your eyelash that you just can't quite seem to get hold of, they nag at me, and I'd prefer not to have to put up with them. One of these things is the consistent misuse of the words: yay, yea, yeah, yah, and ya. Most of the time the intent is for the character to express consent or agreement with something someone else has said, but it seems many writers don't know the right spelling to use.

   So, very quickly:

   YAY (pronounced like HAY) is an expression of happiness or joy, derived from HOORAY.
   YEA (also pronounced like HAY) is a Middle-English word not used any more. It is a high-handed way of saying "...and therefore..." meant to carry weight and import. Many people think it means yes, and sometimes in context it might seem to be so, but it really doesn't.
   YAH (Pronounced like JAW) is used, if at all, to encourage a mount or team of horses or steers, etc. to move.
   YA (pronounced like HUH) is a form of the word YOU. You might say, "Love ya!"
   YEAH (pronounced with the short A sound, like a goat braying) is what most of us mean when we write the other words in dialog. This is the one that is synonymous with YES.

   Honestly I don't expect this blog to have much impact on the misuse of these words in dialog and, frankly, in texts or tweets or Facebook statuses across the Internet, but at least I've gotten it off my chest.


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