Philadelphia, PA - Yes,? Yo? is spoken nationwide; however, it has become our preferred greeting in Philadelphia. However, its meaning can differ depending on its intonation.
Saying it angrily could indicate that you're upset and need someone to help calm you down while saying it joyfully could signal that something exciting and happy awaits you or that it is time for someone special. Yo in Philadelphia can also mean Hello! It's a greeting that is almost exclusively how we say it. Hello? in Philly.
If you're visiting Philadelphia, you might see people say yo to greet each other as they enter a room or a restaurant, and it can be a great way to make a quick, friendly introduction. If you're a local, it's a great way to acknowledge your family and friends at the end of the day or week, whether celebrating a big birthday or saying hello to a loved one.
The word "Yo" began in the Neapolitan dialect, where a young man might say guaglione (pronounced guahl-YO-nay) to another young man. During the migration of the chiefly unlettered Italian immigrants, the greeting was shortened to what-YO (pronounced wah-YO), which eventually became yo. In modern American English, yo is often used as an exclamation, particularly in casual conversations, or to express surprise, disbelief, anger, or surprise.
Philadelphians use some of the most distinctive slang terms in the country, which could prove invaluable if you plan to visit or move here. Learning the local lingo will make ordering cheesesteaks and attending Eagles games that much simpler!
So, Yo, next time you're in Philadelphia. Take note of the local dialect, and, Yo, just enjoy it.