Monday, March 22, 2010


Because I watched the debate and voting on the health care bill last night, this blog post intrigued me this morning: "The yeas have it." It turns out that it had nothing to do with the bill (it was actually written nearly a week ago), but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

This blog was a follow-up to a post the week previous, in which our copyediting friend outlined the differences between "yeah," "yah," "yay," and "yea." The loss of this distinction has become a huge epidemic. I blame texting and instant messaging, where everyone just wants to use as few charaters as possible.

In the second post, she also adds "yea" (as opposed to nay), "yah/ja," and "yeh/ya." I want to comment particularly on the last two.

I grew up confused and frustrated by yah/yeh/ya. The first is a form of yes, the latter two a form of you. But I never knew which spelling to use in informal written messages. I often used "ya" for both, "Ya, I know," and "Don't ya know?" which was confusing to both me and my readers. After living in Germany for a year, I switched the affirmative "ya" to "ja." This still confuses some of my correspondents, but it works for me. And I finally generally abandoned the pronoun "ya," instead using "you" in every instance except "love ya!" in which I think it is clear which "ya" I am using, because the use of the affirmative "ya" would require a comma: "love, ya!"

I believe I am probably alone and old-fashioned in the idea that we should just abandon spellings that express the way we actually say something. When we write, we should always write yes or you. This is far too formal looking and sounding for most people. Is formality too great a cost to pay for the dissolvance of confusion? It isn't for me. Is it for you?


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