On you go

Nem'o

Senior Member
français (France)
Hello,

I've got a question about the expression "On you go". I've tried to look on the internet for answers, but I couldn't find any satisfying explanation, I presume it might be a regionalism as I only heard that in Scotland.

Anyway, here's my question:
I know "On you go" is used as a way to say "Go on" as I often heard my Scottish friend say that to her daughter, in the sense of "Walk ahead" when she was waiting for us, who were walking behind, for example, or in the sense of "Yes, you can", when she was hesitating to go get something ahead (like petting a cat, for example).
But I wanted to know if it was possible to use that expression in a more abstract situation?

Let's say you're a teacher and one of your students seems to want to ask a question, but hesitates, fearing it might be stupid. Could you say "On you go! There's no stupid question!"?

Please, feel free to tell me all you know about this expression, I'm always interested in learning more language facts (regionalism? do you often use it? If not, what expression would you use instead? Do you often hear it? etc.)
 
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Off you go! is a common expression, as a gentle imperative similar to “Move it!” or “Get moving” – or just “Go!”.

    But there’s no reason why it can’t be adapted to On you go!, if “on” is appropriate (e.g. On you go!/Get up on that stage!, or On you go!/Get on the bus before it leaves without you!).
     

    Nem'o

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    Off you go! is a common expression, as a gentle imperative similar to “Move it!” or “Get moving” – or just “Go!”.

    But there’s no reason why it can’t be adapted to On you go!, if “on” is appropriate (e.g. On you go!/Get up on that stage!, or On you go!/Get on the bus before it leaves without you!).
    So, are you saying it cannot be used in a more abstract situation, as in the example I gave?
     

    Nem'o

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    I mean, could you say that as you would say "Go on and ask your question", as to encourage someone to do something?
     

    Shweggeh

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian (not certain)
    I mean, could you say that as you would say "Go on and ask your question", as to encourage someone to do something?
    Not sure, I usually associate these sorts of inversions to be used with mainly specific objects. As lingobingo said, "On you go!" could more so refer to a person getting on a stage or whatever. Another example would be "In the knife went, and that delectable piece of ham was sliced". That's what I've got off the top of my head, haha.

    In short, when you use these inversions, you usually have to have in mind the direct interaction between 2 or more specific objects. (You - bus, you - stage, knife - ham) it's as simple as that.
     

    Nem'o

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    All right, I see exactly what you mean, thanks! :)
    However, it's strange the way my Scottish friend uses that expression when she talks to her daughter, to tell her to keep walking... Might be a very Scottish way to say things, then.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    My gut reaction, as I hang out with a few Scots, is that "on you go" can indeed be used as encouragement (in a figurative sense) as well as more literally, with the idea of "Go ahead (explain your point of view/make your point)."

    Would it not be the same then as French as "vas-y" ?

    Another thought. Could it be a Celtic substrate?

    You have the Irish caricature of Mrs Doyle the housekeeper in Father Ted: "Go on, go on, go on" (I don't know enough Irish or Hiberno-English to know if this is from Irish), and in my mother tongue we have (literal and figurative meanings): "Ymlaen â chi" ( = Forward with you = Go ahead).

    What do you think?
     
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    Nem'o

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    Welsh_Sion, I think your explanation makes perfect sense, at least to me! Thank you.

    This is indeed exactly the way we would use "vas-y" in French, in both the literal and figurative sense!
    I learnt English in Scotland, and I've been using that expression, "on you go", a lot, as it usually comes naturally to me. But I started questioning its meaning, as I noticed I never heard it in conversations, films or series.
    I think you're right, in the end, it might just be a Scottish way to say "Go ahead".
     
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