Monday, June 25, 2007

Yo Blair?

Last night, while trying to still my racing heart after the high excitement of the Brown-Harman enthronement, I chanced on an interesting little programme on Radio 4's Westminster Hour - part one, in fact, of Great Political Myths, by Simon Hoggart (you can listen again via the excellent website). The gist was that Bush,in that notorious overheard exchange at the St Pertersburg summit, never said to Blair 'Yo Blair'. He simply said 'Yeah Blair' - a very different kettle of fish, with none of the implied hauteur and dismissiveness. However, 'Yo Blair' corresponded so perfectly to the perceived 'inner truth' of the Blair-Bush poodle-master relationship that the word was heard as 'Yo', transcribed as 'Yo' and subesequently entrenched as recorded fact as'Yo'. Easy to see how this happened (as it has done with many another non-quote that has entered the language for similar reasons) - but you might wonder why it was never denied. Probably, one hopes, because it would have been just too darned silly.


  1. Surely 'Yeah' is as offhand as 'Yo' Or was it 'Yey!" said in a celebratory tone.

  2. It was a short 'Yeah' - close to 'Yey', but more an acknowledgement than a celebration. And of course the use of the surname tout court is not discourteous in US political circles.

  3. What may have been said can never be pinned down definitively. The body language of the encounter is less ambiguous, imho. There is Blair, with his obsession with "deals", poised like an eager little schoolboy. And there is Bush, who really isn't going to give up his attention to so much as a speck of his breakfast for this lightweight ... I suspect folks have picked up on this just as much as on "Yo/Yeah Blair" which happened to make such a useful headline.

  4. And he still said "Blair" rather than "Tony" or "Mr Blair" or "My Learned Friend" or some such. The "Yo" is merely the offhand icing on the rudeness cake.

  5. perhaps he was just going for yogi bear and made a boo boo. it's been known - everytime I saw Prescott he made me think of Deputy Dawg.

    Yo! that's americanese for Oi! isn't it?

  6. Yes perfect - Deputy Dawg! In an uncharacteristically foul mood, of course.

  7. Yeah is far worse than yo'.
    Yo'implies familiarity and softens the use of Tony's surname.
    Yeah, is dismissive as in: "Yeah, waddaya want?"

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