Saturday, February 25, 2006

Words: "Yowsah"

I was watching a Warner Brothers cartoon called "The CooCoo Nut Grove" (1936). It caricatures many popular stars of the time. One is an avian bandleader named Ben Birdie who exclaims, "Yowsah!" This is based on Ben Bernie, who popularised the word "Yowsah", and would call it out between and during songs.

Does it derive from "yes sir" or the German "Jauchzer"? After reading this article on Runes and Yodeling, I'm leaning towards the latter. "By Juchzer, Jauchzer and Juchzer [cheers], we mean calls which come very close to being musical, but which stand somewhere between yodels and inarticulate cries."

If you're like me, you thought "Yowsah" originated with Chic and "Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (sample here). (Wasn't the "Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah" bit used by Mike Murphy on RTE Radio to introduce his really bad song segment?)

You can hear some Ben Bernie recordings at Robert's Delightful Old Schmaltz Archives

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