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I'm an amateur writer, writing almost entirely fanfiction, and I use the word 'yea' in my writings rather often instead of yeah. In sentences like "If you mean did that just happen? Yea." or "Yea... I'm gonna need another cup of coffee before dealing with this."

I know that originally Yea was the opposite of Nay but more and more I'm seeing people use it in place of Yeah, dropping the h. Is that becoming the correct way, an acceptable way, of saying it or am I just mistaken?

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    Looks clumsy to me. I still read it as rhyming with ‘nay’, not ‘bear’ (in non-rhotic accents). If anything, I'd drop the e and write ‘yah’, to rhyme with ‘nah’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '14 at 4:21
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    It depends (in my opinion) on your character's "voice". You might write a character's spoken dialect with any phonetic spellings you wish. Otherwise, I think you should stick to "Yes". – Elliott Frisch Jan 18 '14 at 4:37
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    yeah, I've been seeing it too, and I predict in a decade it will be pretty much the accepted spelling. But if you're writing "yeah", there's no other spelling right now. Yea still surprises, ya seems like yuh, yah sounds like nah... right now, I'd still stick with yeah. – anongoodnurse Jan 18 '14 at 4:48
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    Suggested migration to writers.se – Kris Jan 18 '14 at 6:27
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    I'm asking, not for the sake of fanfiction, but for the sake of knowing. If it's an acceptable replacement in general. – Selonianth Jan 18 '14 at 7:04
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'Yea' is a real but antiquated word, still in use in various contexts e.g. 'Whose job is it to say yea or nay?

'Yeah' is the representation of an informal pronunciation of 'yes'. (OED).

So if you are reporting informal speech I would suggest you stick with 'yeah'.

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To assess whether a spelling is considered correct, your best bet is to check a couple of dictionaries. Once the spelling passes into acceptabled use, dictionaries will record it it. I would not use alternative spellings until either: (1) they become standardized, or (2) you are trying to write a specific dialect. Even then, it's better to write dialect using correctly spelled words, but choosing words that reflect that region, rather than misspelling, collapsing a word together, or using other methods.

Two other things: even if a dictionary lists the spelling as correct, remember that the first entry is the most proper entry; and, I would refrain from using a word that can be misconstrued by your readers. For instance, If I read yea in your text, I would read it as yā, either as "Yay, he did it!" or as the older yea and nay, and then wonder why you're including Early Modern English into your text.

  • The first entry in a dictionary is not necessarily the most proper, it is just the one used in that particular dictionary. I would never, ever read ‘yea’ as ‘yay, hurray’. They are homophonous, but mean completely different things to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '14 at 15:50
  • For example, many dictionaries list things in order of etymological age rather than frequency of use. – Bradd Szonye Jan 18 '14 at 16:19
  • Because it is homophonous, I would wonder if that is exactly what they were attempting to write, especially if the context allowed for both definitions. I was thinking something like, "You're going to the pool? Yea, so am I." Both "Yeah, so am I" (yeah being used as a filler word as is common in certain regions and dialects), and "hurray, so am I" work here. – user62235 Jan 19 '14 at 1:25
  • Also, as far as entries are concerned, it depends on the dictionary. For most normal dictionaries, what I typed above is correct. For instance, it is explained in the Merriam-Webster dictionary that only multiple words joined by "or" and in alphabetical order are truly equal variants. All others, including words joined by "or" that are out of alphabetical order, are not true equal variants and as such, the first one is preferred. Etymological dictionaries, or "lexicons" are special dictionaries that list root words first. They are not common dictionaries used in everyday life. – user62235 Jan 19 '14 at 1:40
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Yea is equivalent to yeah, just not in common usage. Yea sounds a bit more suited for a futuristic rather than a contemporary setting.

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