Word of the Day Yesh יֵשׁ

A staid little word moonlights as a soccer-field exclamatory phrase.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

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!”

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.”

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism