Talk:yada yada yada

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Putative Yiddish etymology[edit]

Title added. —Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 21:38, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

I'm not exactly sure why my etymological edits were reverted. As a Yiddishist, I can soundly state that the Yiddish via Hebrew origin theory is purely a folk etymology, if an etymology at all. Yiddish does have some words with the same root:

ידיעה [yedie], a piece of news
ידען [yadn] a knowledgable person
ידענות, knowledge

There are no meanings of the י ד ע root that would be applicable in this word. In fact the OED's etymology, given previously is most likely correct. I think my edits should be reinstated. --BerBer

I have heard two theories, (1) from Hebrew ידע; and (2) from the Seinfeld show during the 1990s, possibly from yatter. I’m not certain how long I’ve known the expression, but I’m pretty sure I knew it long before the Seinfeld show. And yatter, as far as I know, is a British word...I don’t think many Americans are familiar with it. I could understand how yatter might become yada yada in British English and then cross the Atlantic in that form, but it would have to have been well before 1990. From what I have read, no one is sure where it came from and any etymology is guesswork. I don’t see much reason to assert that yatter is sound etymology while ידע is folk etymology. That British yatter becomes American yada yada yada seems no more likely to me than Hebrew ידע becoming Yiddish ידיעה, and yedie becoming yada yada. If yada yada were strictly British (as yatter is), then I would agree with the OED, but it is not. Perhaps both theories should be mentioned. —Stephen 10:15, 4 July 2007 (UTC)


I am 100% confident that the meaning is NOT from the Hebrew/Yiddish. There is no overlap in meaning. The OED cites the expression as American and gives the following:

Forms: 19- yada yada, 19- yaddah yaddah, 19- yadda yadda, 19- yaddeyahdah, 19- yatta yatta.Also often reduplicated further. [Imitative of the sound of human speech, prob. influenced by (or perh. an alteration of) YATTER n. Cf. also the following:
1949 Sat. Evening Post 27 Aug. 98/4 ‘Back-seat flying,’ Mike would grumble. ‘Always the yaddega-yaddega from the back seat’. 1950 Time 30 Oct. 100/3 Though Right Cross's ring scenes are pretty well staged, it is a boxing picture with too much yatata and not enough sock. 1956 Holland (Mich.)Evening Sentinel 4 Feb. 6/6 (caption) You heard about her husband, didn't you? He won a trip to Bermuda... Well, he didn't tell her, and yattata-yattata.
1967 L. BRUCE Essential Lenny Bruce 182 They're no good, the lot of them ‘Yaddeyahdah’ They're animals! 1981 Washington Post (Nexis) 5 Jan. B1 I'm talking country codes, asbestos firewalls, yada yada yada. 1988 J. MCINERNEY Story of my Life i. 9, I get this weird rash so I finally go to the doctor who gives me this big lecture on AIDS yada yada yada then says the rash..won't kill me. 1997 Village Voice (N.Y.) 8 Apr. 49/4 Moody is forcing a heap of very tired metaphors down your throat as the nuclear family fissions, so does the nuclear reactor, yadda yadda yadda. 2005 Arena May 109/1 Best actor of his generation, blah blah blah... Brilliant architect of the ‘method’ performance, yada, yada.

There is a tendency to attribute words of this sort to Yiddish derivation, a feature studied by Yiddish linguists and a social attitude toward Yiddish that allows this to occur. If you can, read דן מירן/ אתם צוחקים, אני בוכה a Hebrew article on the phenomenon.

I really think my changes should be reinstated.--BerBer 16:32, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

The OED is a British dictionary and it says yada yada is an Americanism that derives from yatter, a British word that we are not familiar with here. I have also used yatata many years ago, but I did not get it from either yada yada (which I was aware of) or from yatter (which I was ignorant of). I’m not certain that yada yada is from ידע, but I am convinced it is not from yatter. —Stephen 21:12, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

I hate to overstate the case, but this phrase is absolutely 100% not from Hebrew. I've provided source material to the contrary, including the Yiddish Hebraisms from the authoritative Yiddish dictionary, yet there are no sources for your "theory." I'm not saying the word is from yatter, which is by the way Scottish, I'm saying it is not of Yiddish or Hebrew origin. Please provide evidence to support the claim.

However, there are plenty of examples of Americans using the word yatter, here's one from Ezra Pound:

Canto XCIV: “To Kung, to avoid their encirclement / To the Odes to escape abstract yatter."

My changes should be made.--BerBer 00:29, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather was older than Ezra Pound, my grandmother the same age. They didn’t use that word and I never heard it from anyone else around here. Ezra Pound moved to London and learnt BrE. Yada may not be from ידיעה, but I do not accept that it had anything at all to do with the foreign word yatter. —Stephen 01:52, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

That's fine. If you want personal documentation, I have a PhD in linguistics and work on inter-language borrowings between disparate language families (e.g, Semitic into Germanic -- like Yiddish Hebraisms and their remainders in English). I don't have any opinion on the yatter possibility. All I know for certain is that it is not from Hebraic or Yiddish origin. Without any sources or documentation on the ידע root proposal, my changes will reflect what is clear.--BerBer 05:24, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks all – this is a v. interesting and useful thread (I’d been under the understanding that it was Yiddish).
—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 21:38, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Of course it's from Yiddish! Yiddish is full of funny words like this. 146.115.145.237 08:56, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

A connection with early 19th-century Scottish usage?[edit]

While talking with a friend about this expression and the seemingly related word "yatter", I looked up "yatter" using the Google Books NGram Viewer. This showed some surprisingly early usage, so I did a detailed book search to check, and found this from pages 703-704 of the Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language: Vol. II, published by John Jamieson in 1825:

To YATTER, v. n. 1. To fret, to continue talking in a querulous manner, or as finding fault with others, Roxb., Fife; Yetter, Loth.
The term is frequently redoubled, as expressive of reiteration, or as intimating that there is scarcely any intermission in this kind of talking; as, "She's ay yatter-yatterin, and never devaulds," Roxb.
2. It is also used as simply signifying to chatter; either as contemptuously characterizing the discourse of a speaker, who has a voluble tongue without much sentiment, or as respecting the confused noise made by many persons talking at once; Loth., Roxb., Fife.
...
YATTER, s. 1. Chattering noise, confused talk, Fife.
2. An incessant talker, Roxb.

With "yatter" being in Scottish usage as early as 1825, it might well have already existed in the United States among Scots-Irish immigrants or found its way in among later Scottish migrants. Given that and the mention of repetition in the use of "yatter", the idea of it evolving into "yada yada yada" and similar phrases sounds quite plausible to me. Anyway, I thought people might be interested in this. --Colin Douglas Howell (talk) 07:51, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Blah Blah Blah[edit]

This expression is widly used in french. I think it is also from onomathopoetic origin. I wonder if it is used in other languages.

I (also) wonder if that information has any importance next to the fascinating argue above.

(I'm definitely sorry for the nasty quality of my english) Ikko

Swedish: "Bla bla bla". Commonly used. 130.237.57.80 14:19, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
blah blah blah is also English. A new version, of recent origin, is blasé, blasé or blasé blah. —Stephen 14:15, 9 September 2009 (UTC)


Etymology[edit]

Is there any chance this phrase is from the English phrase "you ought to" -> "ya oughta" -> "y'oughta" -> "yada" as in " 'Y'oughta do this,' and 'y'oughta do that!' That's all I hear. Yada, yada, yada!" 50.41.223.10 03:47, 23 January 2013 (UTC)R. Sones

I think yada yada yada predates this contraction. JamesjiaoTC 04:29, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
I would bet dollars to donuts that the phrase originates with a 1918 novelty song by Bob Carleton called Jada Jada Jing Jing Jing; it was (maybe still is) a jazz standard & has been recorded many times over the decades. "Jada" in the song is pronounced exactly as the word is used nowadays in the phrase yada yada yada. (Here's an 1919 recording of the song on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/ArthurFieldswithBillyMurray) But unfortunately I don't have a citation for my hunch. BlueSockMonkey (talk) 05:28, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I doubt it. Merriam-Webster says it’s an alteration of earlier yatata (idle chatter), probably ultimately from British dialect and argot yatter-yatter (to chatter), of imitative origin; first known use: 1980. —Stephen (Talk) 06:12, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Norwegian link?[edit]

In Norwegian, "jada jada jada" is translated as "yeah yeah yeah". Pronunciation in Norwegian varies somewhat from the English pronunciation of "yada yada yada" but the Norwegian language uses J for the palatal approximant /j/, which is usually represented by the letter y in English.