From the Mental Floss site yesterday, “Why Have People Started Asking Questions by Adding ‘Y/Y’?” by Gretchen McCulloch:

This is the best new way of asking questions, y/y? Some examples from around the internet show how this method of appending a y/y to the end of statements is starting to be used.

So I should wear my matching shirt at some point, y/y?
So, Ramsay is the new Joffrey but 1000x worse, y/y?
#knitting friends. We should all make these for next winter, y/y?
I have a million of these flower dresses and I need another one y/y?
the weirdest hat he’s ever worn, y/y?

This is strictly an orthographic feature; y/y? isn’t an abbreviation for spoken yes or yes?, as McCulloch points out. Instead, it’s a very compact way of converting a (written) statement to a question seeking agreement with that statement.

(Hat tip to Season Von Hexe.)

McCulloch notes that English has a scheme for doing this conversion, in both speech and writing: the tag question:

So I should wear my matching shirt at some point, shouldn’t I?

There is considerable literature on this sort of question tag, in which the form of the tag varies with the form of the clause to which it is appended (with an auxiliary verb duplicated in the tag and the subject duplicated in pronominal form).

McCulloch also points to fixed tags doing a similar conversion:

So I should wear my matching shirt at some point, right? / ok?

(There’s a variety of dialectal variants in the world of of fixed tags: no?, innit? Pennsylvania Dutch English ain’t.)

In any case, McCulloch’s suggestion is that y/y? provides just such a fixed tag for written English on the net.

(McCulloch has appeared on this blog once before: in a 2/8/14 posting on doge.)

One Response to “y/y?”

  1. markonsea Says:

    Looks to me like “y/y?” is a development of “Y/N” (yes or no?), adapted to represent the Latin nonne, “question-expecting-the-answer-“yes”.

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