Find a bunch of Israelis watching a soccer game and you are bound to hear exultant exclamations when fans see a player score a goal. And those shouts of joy are likely to be “Yesh!”
- Word of the Day / Shofar שׁוֹפָר
- Word of the Day / Konseptsia קונספציה
- Word of the Day / Nescafe
- Word of the Day / Lehashvitz
- Word of the Day / Ma Yesh Lakh Babayit?: How Israelis Ask About Your Family Life
When it is acting more staidly, “yesh” is a flexible and common little word, used mostly to mean “there is” or “there are” in a declarative sentence or “is there?” or “are there?” in an interrogative one.
There could be plausible reasons for it to be moonlighting as an exclamation as well. Perhaps, we can speculate, there’s an implied rest of the sentence, like “Yesh gol!” (“There is a goal!”) But I’ve long wondered if the resemblance to the similarly used English-language cry of “Yes!” is more than coincidental.
Hebrew language maven Rubik Rosenthal comes down firmly against coincidence on this one, writing that the interjectory use of “yesh” is “undoubtedly influenced” by its lisp-less cousin. So is there a yes-yesh connection? The answer could well be “yes, there is.”