About the Word “Ayuh”
Welcome to the August 2010 edition of “Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.
About the Word “Ayuh”
It has various meanings, including “no.”
Some people feel “ayuh” is no longer utilized in New England today, but they’re just not listening. Sure, it’s not pronounced in the heavy-hande , overly obvious way the imitators do in order to make fun of us. But the word nonetheless remains a part of our way of speaking and has various meanings based on how it is said.
Here, then, with apologies for the inadequacies of the spellings–some sounds just can’t be spelled–are nine ayuhs with nine different meanings:
1. Ay-uh (second syllable a half-note higher in pitch that the first). Meaning: “I heard what you said.”
2. Aaayyyeeeuuhh (in a more-or-less monotone, lengthened out to four or more seconds). Meaning: “No,” particularly to a question necessitating positive action.
3. Eyuh (very quick, almost a bark, with the e hardly pronounced). Meaning: “Yes, I’m ready to take the next step in the task we’re involved with.”
4. Eeeeyyaaooh (slowly, but doesn’t last as long as No. 2, and the middle section is at a higher pitch than either the back or the front end). Meaning: “I hear you, but I don’t agree.”
5. Eeeeayuh (slow in the beginning but cut off abruptly at the end, which is at a slightly higher pitch; repeated three or four times, the last ending at a slightly lower pitch). Meaning: “We’ve talked enough and I’m about to move on.”
6. Aaayuh ( in sort of a nasal whine, the ending lower in pitch, repeated over and over with both exhaled and inhaled breaths and continuing while the other person is speaking.) Meaning: “I really sympathize with you.”
7. A-yuh (each of the two syllables pronounced distinctly, both at the same rather low pitch. Occasionally a p is added to the end.) Meaning: “I agree with you.”
8. Eyuh, eyuh, eyuh! (A short burst of three, rapidly, in a monotone, the accent on the second syllable, followed by a few seconds pause, and then, even though the other person is speaking, repeated.) Meaning: “You’re wasting your time and my time because you’re telling me something I already know.”
9. Ayy-yuhh (both syllables emphasized equally and in an exaggerated manner, the second syllable at slightly lower pitch). Meaning: “I’m an outsider trying to pass for a native.” Secondary meaning: “I’m making fun of those of those amusing characters you find in New England.”
Can you think of more?