yeah, yeah, yeah

This lies outside my area of expertise (but not my pay-grade), so unlike my researched rants on Cleveland sports, I’m open to being wrong here.  But has anyone else noticed the sudden rise of a new locution in the English language?  I speak of the phrase, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” not its drawn out form which the Beatles sang in the 1960’s, “Yeeaaah, “Yeeaah, “Yeeaaah,” but its new, snippy, staccato version:  three “Yeah’s” spoken in rapid succession, as fast as the speaker can say them.  Something like “Y-Y-Yeah.”

I first heard this expression about two years ago, but now everyone I know, including myself, is using it.  At first I liked the sound of it, for I felt that the speaker was expressing profound and repeated agreement with me, as in “Verily, verily, verily I agree with thee.  Amen and Amen.”  But now I suspect that those who use it are really, and for the most part subconsciously, expressing impatience.  As in “I agree with you already.  Can I talk now?”

Could it be that the rapid pace of our microwave and Internet society has conditioned us to being less patient with each other?  We feel pressed for time, in a rush to finish this conversation or this idea so that we can race to our next Tweet.  Is technology making us less civil?

Try this experiment.  Next time someone gives you the “Y-Y-Yeah,” intentionally slow down the conversation.  Draw out your vowels and pause between sentences.  See if they squirm and fidget, and time how long it takes them to jump back in and interrupt you.  Then confiscate their cell phone.

8 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Diana O'Connor May 19, 2009 — 11:34 am

    Mike, you caught me! If I had more patience I’d write more.🙂

  2. Uh-oh, I’m with Diana. I was ready to comment before I’d read the entire post! How impatient is that???

  3. Another example of this, I know a good amount of people who will use texting lingo (lol, etc) in everyday conversation.

  4. I’ve noticed people doing a variation on this. I call it the “Yeah, No, Yeah.”

    Examples:

    Q1: “Are you dating that girl?”
    A: “No. Yeah, no. Yeah, no.” Translation: NO.

    Q2: “Do you think you failed that exam?”
    A: “Yeah. No, yeah.” Translation: YES.

    I think it is in response in articulate questions.

  5. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.

  6. It bothers me that people do not even articulate or enunciate the entire word. In this case, the word is YES! “Yeah” is what happens when you are half-way through the word “Yes” and you all of a sudden have to sneeze!

    Another variation on this theme is the “ya know”. I listen to people interject this little phrase into every single sentence. I have decided to answer this question every time they use it with an abrupt “no”.

  7. Excellent post.
    I’ve been saying exactly this same thing for about a year now. Everyone in our ministry does this. It’s definitely meant to be an affirmation, but it’s also very annoying.
    And what’s sad is that it’s very contagious. Once you’ve heard it a few times, you do it too. It’s like when you hang out with a southerner for a little while, you start saying “y’all” without knowing it.

  8. My feelings exactly.

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