"Yay" is used to give a positive answer to a question asked in the affirmative. "Yes" is used to answer negatively to a question asked in the negative. In this way, yes sort of means no.
I will give you some examples.
1. "Do you want to go to the hockey game?"
"Yay, I want to go."
2. "Do you not want to go to the hockey game?"
"Yes, I do want to go."
3. "Do you not want to go to the hockey game?"
"No, I don't want to go."
|"Are you coming Winifred?"|
"Yes Reginald! I am just putting on my shoes"
Over the years, the more potent word came to take the place of the more moderate one, and we stopped saying "yay" in favour of saying "yes."
There is a word for this, a linguistic term, for when words or expressions lose their strength. It happens a lot with swear words. Things that used to be shocking become common-place, and new, more shocking ones take their place. I can't remember what the term is for it. Does anyone else know? Yay or nay?
Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice
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