DiscoverSlate Presents Lexicon ValleyHeyo, Let's Talk About Hamilton

Heyo, Let's Talk About Hamilton

Update: 2017-04-041


John McWhorter talks to linguist Neal Whitman about the mash-up of hey and yo.

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Mexican Valley is brought to by the great courses plus learn about topics that interest you all taught by award winning experts get a free trial when you sign up today at The Great courses plus dot com slash lexicon and blue apron create delicious home cooked meals with fresh ingredients delivered right to your door get your first three meals free when you go to Blue apron dot com slash lexicon the from New York City this is let's tally up podcast about language and tone the quarter I teach linguistics at Columbia University my latest books are words on the talking back talking black but my latest favorite project is doing these podcasts and this week let's delve into something which frankly it seems like we just have to do given the times that we live in for so many reasons let's talk about Hamilton I mean Hamilton the musical episode today will include an be dominated by an interview with Neal Whitman linguistics blogger extraordinary who's been listening to the cast album of the linguists year we will meet him soon and the way we're going to approach this is something that Hamilton Ashley can teach us more about the naked seen those words usually little that seem to not mean anything well horses run faster what could well mean think about it the well implies that you're listening to what somebody else said But you're gently contradicting well horses run faster as in you're talking about how fast she does are when technically horses frankly I don't know which one of those animals runs faster but you take my point or so that's what happened what's the So it's not just pick up as people often thought what is the so mean I'll leave you to think about the fact that it has a meaning that you say so you don't say it because you don't know what you're about to say it's there or this is from the New York Times just a few days ago it's that wonderful feature New York today where you learn what the weather is going to be right after you wake up or at least that's how I use it so the wind will make it feel is nippy as the teens as you had to work but hey at least the sun will stay out that if you can what's that little but hey if you think about it well hey means Hey there's a raccoon in the trash can and that is one thing that hey can mean but if it's the way will make it feel is nippy as the teens as you had to work but hey at least the sun will stay out that's not pay the sun's out that's not the point that But hey means something else it's things like that things like the well so the hay in this but hey construction these things where it be highly elusive to explain to a foreigner what these things meant they seem to even stretch the boundaries of what we consider meaning to be and yet if you don't use these little words you're not really speaking the language it makes you Siri or profoundly being these things are called according to some linguistics traditions discourse particles another sentence with the hey it's about this new thing with dinosaurs where the two different clans of dinosaurs have been resorted this is from the test for pot zoology blog there in Natchez wonderful blog I recommend it to everybody even if you're not interested in Petra pods and dinosaurs he said recently it has something of a fair a pod feel about it hey maybe this is now totally okay actually correct once again it's not hey I am amazed that what that hey means and so does the But hey that means that something has a downside but there's actually an upside and so the wind will make it feel is nippy as the teens as he had to work that's no good but hey at least the sun will stay out there that upside so whenever you say but hey what you mean is I acknowledge that something had a downside but there's actually enough so you don't think of it but that's the nature of language one other thing about hey just to give you a sense of how elusive and yet how interesting these meanings can be hey is always shifting around in American English and so for example if you read Fitzgerald you notice that hey actually meant in many cases what it means today so this is nineteen twenty Fitzgerald has short story may Day here's a sequence from an eternity in the whole morning he said gravely squinting up as our eyes oh yes breakfast a deal agreed with additions breakfast and liquor so go get some breakfast a few knows nobody would say that today it's breakfast time not go get some breakfast hay or nineteen twelve further back luck list Santa Claus a tramp character says and trying to kid may today would be and trying to kid me not hey here is finally an actual clip of somebody using hay in a way that you would never hear today this is from Lucille ball's hit radio sitcom right before she basically saw her life turn around with the I Love Lucy television show called My Favorite Husband all of it still exists online and for those of you who have seen each other I Love Lucy episode fifty times and I've had enough of that you can listen to pro I Love Lucy almost as entertaining on the late forties and early fifties listen to this little sequence from one episode of My Favorite Husband in nineteen forty eight the the uh I don't hear anyone talking on the the eye the eye was the the heating cycle and like all the mood the years the the the the the the the the the meaning of life and hope that the the the year the count for the the the the the eleventh Mar hey the whole though the The I've never heard a real live person use stay that way and of course the Lucy people or trying to be funny but one wonders it's certainly possible the Hamilton Park is coming believe me and some of you may know now going to make brief mention of another discourse particle yo are most familiar with it and black English with hate and pants was tight yo or something like that but you know it's interesting these markers are always changing any human speech variety is dynamic and it's interesting because I've learned from Neal Whitman just this week that yo has developed a completely unexpected meaning in the black English and at least one place in the United States and so Neal Whitman authors one of my favorite linguistics blogs it's called literal Neil has a gift for taking a look at linguistics topics that are actually going to be interesting to other people and making them interesting to other people know you're particularly good at not being too short but not being too long there's never a dip in the tension in one of your entries I highly recommend literal minded neo what's going on in Baltimore with Yo of all things First a fee reduction you're too kind I think you're referring to the research of Margaret Troyer former Baltimore area teacher and she found that yo is being used as a gender neutral third person pronoun much like many of the rest of us are now using of Ayer them so how would they use this pro now so when he would do a test showing kids a picture of cartoon characters of ambiguous gender Sawyer found a kid who's yo that if he or she so for example that things like go put his foot on the desk and they also use the oath even when they did not know the gender quoting from the switch right up and so Inglis changes as always and in ways you might not even expected so discourse particle B Combs pronoun The The The The we will get back to the show in just a minute lexicon Valley is brought to this week by The Great courses plus a virtual library of thousands of lectures on topics from history to science language there are lectures than you could likely watch in your lifetime over eight thousand including one called Language what your speech says how do dialects develop what are for example between the use language why do vowel change over time and is texting for English this course covers all of that twenty four thirty watch right now at no cost because as a lexicon about you'll get a free at the Great plus slash lexicon so check it out language what your speech says the talk by free blend of Nevada sign courses plus dot slash lexicon back to the show and ok so we've looked at hay and we looked at yo and so that the transition into neo Hamilton lexicon Valley discourse particle what's the connection between all the things what's going on with this coarse particles in Hamilton it all started last year when about the cast recording of Hamilton for my wife but pretty soon showed up in all of our mobile devices and the CD itself been some time in the car for the next few months the listen to a lot yet though on one of the songs on there near the beginning is my shots perhaps you've heard it was this is only where the nobody heard that one that's the wonderful So yes where Hamilton explained his desire that will shape the rest of the story in the chorus goes like this the so it's the hey yo that picked up years well actually the first time I listen to it would pick that my ears with his rhyming of hungry with country which is rather daring but by the end of the song I was also noticing that the Beltline didn't begin with I'm just like my country it was you know I'm just like my country and it was that way every single time the chorus came around just for some variation him I said yes just like my country but everytime knows just how yo and I started to wonder if maybe were fusing together and are becoming a single word here as words do is you know that on the very program right and certainly of course haiz still its own word they use it on earth owns quite a bit and the rest of the play the the the sisters on the uh oh you could never bits the question of if we're all which one may say the text The The The The The The The The city of Jos on their own five of them in a row just minutes earlier from the character of John Lawrence when he interrupts a conversation between Hamilton and Aaron Burr the hour what's the to the the but the question is whether a yo in particular is becoming a thing because of it were just random then you might think that it's a one course of that one point on album Be Hey yo butt than elsewhere maybe people would shout something else but they don't as you show in the Yorktown sequence for example where you have hey yo in exactly the same place with the chorus sing it I The The The and so is into something random that the actor playing Hamilton sticks in there there's a little blank in the script or something like that it's set in your blog post where you describe all this so well and folks it's very much worth the read there's another Hey yo that you show me which one was that in between Yorktown and my shot earlier were introduced to General George Washington in the fall right hand man he storms on the stage explaining how and what dire Straits the Continental Army is and that is where he convinces Hamilton that his panel would be better used as George Washington's personal assistant than as a soldier or or even the commander here comes The The The The The The The The The The The to know is that a loon yet so I didn't say Oh I'm going to be the right hand man as I was sitting in the passenger seat on a road trip looking through the liner notes I immediately noticed that here aiyo really was built in one word and in fact L A Y own owh just one wine so I thought OK but there it is you know it is definitely being perceived to the one word at least sometimes right then a few songs later in Yorktown when they do the course to my shot again looking in the liner notes you see that there is no longer felt hey yo to build a goal I can right hand man and that to me was the clincher like OK that's it the format that will maybe there's some subtle difference between the two A owes that is just going over my head but that was what I thought OK now we're definitely talking about the same word here a piece of language that not part of the standard language yet so it's not subject to the pressures of spelling standardization and I think as linguist tight undies si hay o being spelled something like A O where you lose the sound and it makes us stand up and take notice we feel like something is happening that final article reduction means something doesn't it make you start thinking about certain things happening yeah I mean age is a fun logically weak sound anyway it's always disappearing re appearing having a few taken Spanish you had to learn not to pronounce the h is the beginning of words have ever had an argument about whether something is an historic occasion or a historic occasion you get a sense of how H does this people are putting an end not putting and then when they develop their billing it as they hear it and hasn't settled into some sort of standardized spelling yet say certainly that I find myself thinking actually about goodbye of all things and no we're not at the end but what I mean is that when you have that kind of reduction it is very often a sign that the meaning is changing is conventional rising and so God Be With You is originally what people are saying during leave taking and then it becomes God with you doubling the bus goodbye goodbye it becomes goodbye which has a completely different meaning when somebody ways by Erin's as Bye Bye that has nothing to do with the good Lord accompanying you and it's that final article squeezing together that's a sign that there's this new habit that's forming and the meaning is changing what is this hail where does it come from or where it came from I would sort of take the no hypothesis to be that will it simply the ejection hey fella by the projection yo it must of started that way right yeah and then after that well you just happen to be said together often enough that it starts be heard one word and then can start to drift in its own directions in but I was wondering how many spelling variations there were and I've actually met them all out and charge you know and came up with sixty four possibilities based on just a few billing decisions I was thinking about to begin with I started looking for all of the the what meaning there were out there I found twenty of one of them tested many of the entries were urban dictionary entries which of course you always have to take with a grain of salt but mostly they agreed with what I've been seeing already about a greeting or just sort of pay attention focusing right discourse particle does that but for hay o hay hyphen go write something said after a conversational phrases that could be interpreted as a sexual reference is that the sample conversation here they give is John Jude do the bio assignment mark yes that was so hard to get me up all night John Leo which she said via a user named a Texas Lone Star twenty one back in two thousand and nine oh the the time for one more short break lexicon Valley is also brought To You by Blue apron for less than ten dollars per meal to a print delivered right to your door seasonal recipes and pre portion that you can make easy home cooked meals cooking with blue apron is easy and it's fun just follow the step by step recipe card and you'll dinner in under forty minutes the recipes are always changing and so many different cuisines are represented here's a couple of things you could make this much spinach and fresh monster Ella pizza with olives bell peppers and ricotta salon or how about sweet and sour bok choy and carrot fried rice that's what you could be eating tonight check out this week's menu and get your first three meals free with free shipping going to Blue apron dot com slash lexicon you will love how good it feels and tastes to create incredible home cooked meals with blue apron so don't wait that's blue apron dot com slash lexicon to a friend a better way to come ok now back to John actually meal this is interesting because I think we can put these uses of hay on a kind of timeline always want to know what was the process where we got from there to hear you know bugs Bunny starts as a little white rabbit who goes who gradually becomes the bugs Bunny that we know you mentioned Hey O as a greeting and it can be used as a greeting in you might think in the most immediate sense that hey put together would be a way of saying hi and you can actually see it used that way in a sellout but a lot of us watch I have seen every episode loved to pieces It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia although I should say that there is a marked paucity of Philadelphia accents on the show but it's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is also where the characters actually use hey you know as a greeting regularly as we can hear in for example this month on the the the bitches the the the the um the the the the the the the weight on his milestones of the day hey hey hey hey and then upon myself thinking of a little sequence in Sister Act where caffeine the genie playing that wonderful comic nine at one point offers to help fix Whoopi Goldberg's had it with some scotch tape and I forget exactly when because I haven't seen it since then but he says well we can do it with a little bit of help from God and some scotch tape and she pulls off some tape he says hello I think analogous Lee to that might be this gave Mayo where the ideas you take something that a greeting that supposed to freshen things up it's supposed to acknowledge that something has come into the room someone and you may get some thing that comes into the room by saying a hail and among many things that you might say that hail about you might have scotch tape and also one of these erection jokes or something like that that makes sense to you you know you mentioned the homosexual connection and I noticed that is a little bit of semantic narrowing because the person said anything that could be interpreted as sexual right but for example here's the Urban Dictionary is the CEO said after someone says something that may be considered gay or suspect in another way of saying no homo and then the little sample conversation Guy one mad I could sure go for a hot dog right now I'm not sure where the craving came from it it kind of came and my mths to go maybe I don't get out much in these meetings have you yet this is not an example in the wild yet another Urban Dictionary definition so that when I started looking for various combinations of possible double OT honors plus different spellings of hay oats I was doing searches like you know so hard hey yo get off hey oh noo we have really good job with the new eye well here goes being a hot gay guys just so hard hey oh like women have no idea how easy they have it and that still hate hype and you know and then here's one to build a two y o I suggest you all get off hey oh the planet as soon as possible most excellent of all I was telling my sons about this research I was doing and then a couple weeks ago my older son Doug comes home and tells me about a conversation that he had with friend one friend to for some class project he was doing where he had to interview somebody does that yeah I'm I'm doing Mr. Smith and Brian once that something like you're doing Mr. Smith and friend to that hey oh that was the first spoken I'd heard that even those you know Doug's recounting of his friends speech but illustrated something that also shows up in that Always Sunny in Philadelphia montage played the stress shift so compound word you know very often they get the stress shifted onto syllable you the whole episode on this all the written example you can't really tell where the stress goes and even hearing it in songs you're not entirely sure because the meter of the song will sometimes distort how the word is pronounced and so when I heard that there was not only an example of the sexual innuendo caller outer hey oh but also confirmation of the stretch kept one thing that we should get in we certainly can't miss the sex part but how does Ed McMahon fit into all of this because I suspect that he is a part of the puzzle so I have been saying for the McMahon connection here been pointed out that when Johnny got of some sort of insult or finger against the guests that would jump in with Ohio Hey Joe but I am I believe that Jeffrey Campbell's character on and the wonderful Larry Sanders Show was doing a takeoff on this Ohio with the hay now that that character would do as a matter of fact in any case so that's how Ed McMahon and fits in in that I don't think there's anything sexual intended but it was certainly a from just a greeting that you would come up with walking through a door it meant something long lines of something just happened that was visceral e compelling and you could narrow that into it being about sex as well and so hey means one thing another but it seems to me that it's a way of indicating sincerity along the lines of the fact that when we speak we're always interested in selling that we really what we say we tend to sprinkle our spoken language with indications of that basic sincerity and commitment to the the the uh the the the it seems that if you say Hey you're certainly not saying hey I've noticed something and say Yo you're not saying I'm trying to get your attention by pulling you by the collar gets settled down into meaning something along of this is important I really mean it the mail this is absolutely fascinating frankly I've listened to the Hamilton cast of well not as much as I would like because I have two small children myself but I have listened to a quite a bit in the last thing I was thinking about was this coarse particles I was just listening through the hay O's and I didn't think about the fact that there is in Hamilton with everything else that's in it science I didn't know that there was a whole lot linguistically interesting about it and you and I both know that we could go on but thank you Neil for coming on I'm glad you brought this up back in the fall I'm glad that we have actually been able to do it folks Neil Whitman's blogg is literal minded I highly recommend it not just this entry but go backwards and you learn about all sorts of things I would say that a couple of my shows have actually been sparked are influenced by Neil's blog work thank you so much new well it's been a pleasure thank you for having me before we close on letters letters I get letters I am informed by somebody that I did not mention that with tomato and the way it was sometimes deformed into to Mata an earlier American English a hot tomato really was a deformation from Spanish Tomas A influenced by potato really the story begins with the Spanish taking toe Mateo from an original nah that's the indigenous language spoken in Mexico which was threatened by Spanish entering originally it was to mock poll you can imagine being a Spaniard you certainly don't want to say that and so it's going to be something like tow mater Dei so the deaf or Mason originally began with Spanish speakers I didn't mention that before partly because there are time limits and partly because I feel more comfortable criticizing speakers of my own language for screwing up other ones then jumping on Spaniards but I'm sure that Spaniards will understand we do need to acknowledge indigenous languages in the Americas especially since so very many of them are on the brink of extinction and they were every bit as interesting every bit as complex as languages that most of us are more familiar with also on Hey we heard Lucy and that other character actress saying so on have to go tomorrow hey anybody who's listening who has had the benefit of a very long life do probably vernacular Northeast owners in the United States using hay in that way not Hey there's a baseball game over on the other side of the fence not where's the lamp hey not that but hey without that emphasis so we're going to go over and see the baboons hay or so you not interested in me anymore hey that little head A where it's down the intonation contour in that way people actually use hay that layers that to something that the writers of that radio episode we're doing is kind of a joke because they do that another My Favorite Husband episode two and it makes the audience laugh was it real I'd love to know if you are probably eighty or older did anybody talk that way in any case you can reach us at lexicon Valley at slate dot com of what the Conn Valley at slate dot com Follow us on Twitter and lexicon Valley Steel it Ty is the executive producer of slate podcasts and Andy Powers
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Heyo, Let's Talk About Hamilton

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