Yalla يلا - يللا - ياللا

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Al-Indunisiy, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. Al-Indunisiy Member

    How do you spell 'yalla'?
  2. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    It's a colloquial word not found in MSA, it's spelt يلّا when written.
    I think it's mostly used in the Maghreb (Morocco/Tunisia/Algeria) - correct me if I'm wrong natives!
  3. $ouL

    $ouL New Member

    it's spell يلا
  4. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    I spell it ياللا (yAllA with mufakhkham A's) to avoid confusion with يالا (yala) - and I think it's used in most Arab countries; certainly not just the western ones. But since it's colloquial one can spell it as they wish!
  5. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    As this is a colloquial expression, there's no fixed or standardized way to spell it. As long as it's read correctly, you can go for the spelling you like.
    I usually write it يللا .
  6. Ihsiin

    Ihsiin Senior Member

    I believe it's a contraction (sort of) of "Ya Allah" so you could spell it ياالله or يالله if you want to be conservative, but as everyone has rightly said, it's a colloquialism, so there's no standard spelling.
  7. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I've heard that theory before. Perhaps that is the origin, however I'm suspect of it. A literal meaning of يا الله would be "O God" -- which is a direct calling of God. So how the meaning would get from that religious calling of God to a more secular "let's go" or "hurry up" would need explanation.
  8. Masjeen Senior Member

    Arabian Gulf

    من الواضح جدا أنها مشكلة من "يا الله" طريقة النطق توضح ذلك بشكل جلي وواضح
    أما كيف تغير المعنى فالظاهر أن الناس إذا قامت لعمل شيء توكلت على الله فتقول يا الله
    وشاعت على الألسن.. هذا ما أؤمن به أنا
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  9. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    The intended meaning is different from 'ya Allah' so we intentionally avoid spelling it like that
  10. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    I think it's Greek.

    It was discussed briefly here
  11. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    I seriously doubt that a word like this would come from Greek. I think it is indeed يا الله. The connection is not so remote if you think about it. I think it comes from the fact that people would say يا الله as they begin to leave a place or as they begin a task (من باب التوكل على الله). For example, we still say, يالله مشينا to mean "let's go." It's like saying باسم الله نبدأ.

    In our dialect we also use يالله like this:

    يا الله يمشون (they can barely walk ... literally, they have to pray for God's assistance to enable them to walk)
    يالله يالله طلعنا (we got out with great difficulty)
    بالياالله يقوى يمشي (he can only walk with great effort)

    In addition, of course, to يالله as in "let's go" or "hurry."
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  12. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Wadi Hanifa,

    Something I really find difficult to believe is that people would, excuse the term, 'bastardise' the name of God within a phrase like this. The Arabic language is riddled with phrases that include the name of God, and none of them relax the pronunciation to the point that the name is so questionably even the name anymore.

    The fact that the term is so widespread amongst pretty much all (if not all) dialects does pose some problems for the borrowing theory, but I still think it's more viable than the ya allah theory. Have you ever heard Greeks say it? It sounds almost identical.
  13. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    I don't think يالله in its colloquial rendition as يلا yaḷḷa is anymore bastardized than the all too common والله (pronounced waḷḷa rather than as waḷḷāhi) or بالله pronounced baḷḷa. I've always heard it with the لام as مفخمة (or at least slightly) just as in the word الله. Perhaps the Greek word is a coincidence but the presence of similar sounding words in either language and in a similar region may have reinforced a common usage.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  14. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    لا أتفق. إنه ليس من الواضح أن "يالا" مشكلة من "يا الله." الكثير من الكلمات يشبه كلمات أخرى من حيث النطق وهذا لا يعني بالضرورة أن كلمة تتشكل من كلمة أخرى. مثلا كل من "إلى" و"إلا" و"اللي" (العامية) يشبه "الله." ولكننا نعرف أنها ليست من الله. فـ"يالا" أيضا ليست بالضرورة مشكلة من "يا الله" فقط لأنه تشبهها نطقا.

    I do not think that it is clear that 'yalla' is formed from 'ya allaah.' Many words resemble other words in pronunciation, but that does not necessarily mean that they are derived from those other words. For example, 'ila', 'illa', and 'illi' also resemble 'allaah' in pronunciation, yet we know that they are not derived from it. So, just because 'yalla' resembles 'ya allaah' is in itself no indication that it is derived from it.
    That is a possibility. I considered that, that yalla could possibly have formed from يا الله which could have been used elliptically (perhaps for some longer phrase no longer used) which may have invoked God's name in allowing us to do something. However, I am still not convinced, because the the connection to الله is not clear and the meaning is different from "ya Allah," as Iskandarani also noted. If it did come from some religious phrase then as far as I can tell (at least in the Egyptian dialect) all religious connotations it may have had are gone. That could happen, of course, when a word or phrase is heavily used, but with other formulaic phrases that invoke الله, such as بالله and والله, the reference to God is still clear, despite heavy use over centuries.

    I admit that 'yalla' could possibly be from يا الله, said as a form of التوكل على الله, but the connection is still tentative in my mind.
  15. wellaqsd New Member

    I think " yalla" means " let's" so it will be written " يلا"
    such as " يلا بيناthat means " let's go"
    "yalla nel3b" يلا نلعب ( let's play)
    It is very different from "ya Allah"
  16. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    In Egypt we pronounce 'yaa Allaah' differently from 'Yalla' so the etymology is irrelevant because the usage is separate
  17. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    I find that it's obviously from يا الله; on one hand, people still use similar expressions - we do commonly say يا الله when we want to do something, we say to people things like: بسملله (originally بسم الله) when asking people to eat; on the other hand, the y part is pronounced exactly as we use it in colloquial, at least in Bedouin based dialects (we say يمحمد as an example) and الله is also similar to how it's pronounced in colloquial.

    I've also heard worse distortions of the word الله in phrases like ثيمالّا (originally في أمان الله).

    Of course this is just my personal opinion.
  18. outo_otus Senior Member

    English - British
    Eskandrani, the etymology is certainly not irrelevant, it is possible that a word or phrase becomes worn down through so much usage that it does not resemble the 'original' phrase anymore. The original phrase with the full pronunciation then re-appears in the language but with the full pronunciation to give it the original intended meaning. A sort of 'hyper correction' I guess. This is quite a common phenomenon in the world's languages...

    I also find that 'yalla' tends to be pronounced with a dark /l/ in the Gulf (not sure about other places) which gives to the theory that it comes from 'ya Allaah'.
  19. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    I believe it's pronounced with a dark /l/ in most dialects - at least I have never heard it otherwise.
  20. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Exactly. Iraqi, Najdi and Gulf dialects use the so-called "dark /l/" in many words, so the fact that their "yallah" has a dark /l/ does not really help much. However, other dialects do not have dark /l/'s EXCEPT in the word "Allah." So, the fact that "yalla" has a dark /l/ in those dialects strengthens the case for the "ya allah" > "yalla" etymology.

    The elision of the "hamza" in "ya allah" is perfectly within the rules of vernacular arabic dialects. "Ya allah" is a Classicism; in our dialect, we pronounce يا الله as "yaallah" (not "ya allah") because that's how the rule works (e.g. يالله ان تهدي فلان or يالله طلبتك كذا وكذا, etc.).

    We often pronounce "yallah" with an "-h" at the end. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it comes from "ya allah." I still think the connection is clear and almost self-evident. I instinctively grasped it even as a young child and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
  21. Abu Talha Senior Member

    I think I've heard Arabs say yalla at the end of a conversation, as if to say, "Alright then...bye".

    My question is, is this said only between people who are peers and are familiar with each other. Would you use this with say, a teacher in a casual conversation?
  22. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    You can use it with a teacher, so long as you don't use too informal an intonation. 'Yalla', since it is 'pure dialect', has many separate meanings even within the same dialect. It can mean 'come on = get lost' or 'come on = hurry up' or 'come on = function properly' or 'alright then' or 'never mind' or 'wow (that is amazing)' or 'woah (that is harsh or painful)' (etc.). Many separate meanings differentiated by context and tone.
  23. Abu Talha Senior Member

    Thanks Iskenderani. So it looks like I should avoid it because there is a high chance of getting the intonation wrong!
  24. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    Notice how other people use it and try it with informal acquaintances first to see if they understand what you are trying to convey. Intonation isn't that difficult to acquire, it's just difficult to describe in words.
  25. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    هذا جانب من المعاني الذي نستعمل (يالله) لإيحاءها في مصر
    بجانب معاني أخرى تختلف لو نطقنا الهمزة في كلمة (الله) كأنها همزة قطع
    من المستحيل أن نحاول تفسير سبب وجود هذه المعاني وإرجاعها إلى أصل صحيح في اللغة
    لأن كثير من كلام الناس الدارج لا تفسير واضح له
  26. Bakr Senior Member

    المغاربة وأغلبهم أمازيغ (أي بمصطلح آخر بربر!) تعلموا اللغة العربية عن طريق السماع وليس عن طريق الكتابة والقراءة، وهي اللغة التي جاءت مع الإسلام ولديهم في الدارجة جمل قد تبدو للسامع أن لها علاقة بالدين بينما هم يستعملونها بدون حمولة دينية رغم مرجعيتها الدينية، وقد تكون عصية على الفهم لمن لم يتعود عليها
    يا الله قلت بسم الله...ـ
    وتعني : لقد بدأت للتو
    أو لم أكد أبدأ...وما شابه
  27. Zoghbi Senior Member

    arabic (Algeria)
    Personally, the word that I use and alway heard is yallah with the ه distinctly at the end. I think is the same case for the most of maghrebians dialects, i also remark that "machriqis" people drop this final letter when they use this word (exactly same meaning in all arabic world).

    So for my sake, it obviously from يا الله.
    For the greeks, they have been colonize by turks who adopt a lot of arabic expressions (like ye3ni !) and probably also the "yalla" of mashreq.
  28. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    عندنا نفس العبارة بنفس المعنى بالضبط!
  29. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Abu Rashid’s Greek theory is nonsense. The Greek word is pronounced /εla/ with no tashdīd and no tafxīm, so it does not sound anything like ياالله .
  30. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    I have greek friends and never made this connection despite having known them for over two years since this thread began. I never made the connection because it's genuinely pronounced differently, though my cypriot friend does use gemination (ella), and it conveys a different meaning, more like 'here you are/there we go/voila/alors/أهو/حسنا/ها هي' ... It's used in quite a few contexts none of which really correspond with yallah. Maybe yallah is the origin for ella but it's meaning has changed completely if this is the case.
  31. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    έλα /éla/ is simply the imperative of the verb /érxome/ “to come”. In Cyprus it is pronounced /élla/ with germination, but this is a special feature of the Cypriot dialect.
  32. easyirate New Member

    Y A L L A means faster / hurry up / quick.
  33. momai Senior Member

    It's also used in Bulgarian language in the same manner "Ела!" "to come"
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013

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