Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Everlasting Yawp

On more than one occasion, I've been asked how I came up with my blog title.

"What is a 'yawp'?" readers sometimes ask. "And why do you call your blog that?"

Previously I'd addressed those questions individually as they arose, and I did so again when a friend — who apparently wasn't paying attention in literature classes we took together — looked up "yawp" in the dictionary and informed me that to "yawp" meant to "clamor" or "complain."

But upon further inspection, I found out the the connotation of "yawp" is far different from my intent — or Walt Whitman's, for that matter:

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.
("Song of Myself")

In which case, for me, "yawp" has nothing to do with "raucous or querulous speech" (Dictionary.com) and if my blog has more to do with "a noisy, foolish utterance" (also Dictionary.com), then I've completely failed in my objective (though I'm be the first to admit there's plenty of that here, too).

But for this "yawp," you'd have to look to Whitman for a definition — to understand the sort of earth-shattering emotion, universality, spirituality and cosmic understanding that goes into a yelp of "barbaric" proportions.


Which isn't to say I'm trying to compete with Whitman (I can't), but that sometimes I understand the burning desire to shout over rooftops.

Even as I fail, time and time... again.

9 comments:

disgruntled world citizen said...

i quite like the title of your blog. of course, i like saying the word "yawp.," so that might have something to do with it. i also like saying the word "smock," and the phrase "endoplasmic reticulum," sadly, i don't have much opportunity to say either because one, i'm not often in a painting class, or two, in a biology setting.

Anonymous said...

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

DWC- I like Gazebo, Muckluck and Macadamia.

~BPP

Jonas said...

Shouting over roof tops is a good thing.

Yawp away!

Beth said...

Compete away. You can pull it off.

A said...

Pffft, Whitman's dead maaaan, you coul EASILY beat him in an arm wrestling match.

Or even in a "Most cheese fries eaten this week" contest.

You can do it!

Eli said...

Do I like the title of your blog? Yawp, I show do...

That's funny, I was just thinking about looking up yawp to see what it meant before I read this.

Rhea said...

I enjoyed your description of YAWP! Here is another Walt Whitman quote:

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

Supafly Turbo Cyborg said...

I don't know why, but 'yawp' always conjures up images of the Cowardly Lion preparing for an opium nap. I would have to say it is onomatopoeia for the sound he makes during the yawn/lip smacking phase of slumber.

ds said...

yawp always sounds like what it is. but I don't think lately you've been making yawps. take it however you want as long as it's the right way.

come around soon. Chicago is 2-3 weeks behind here but the hyacinths should be blooming soon.

you are getting a hell of a lot of comments, though...