Ken Jennings

Blog

April 18, 2011

flavor.jpg

Flavor Flav guesting on The Electric Company, a recurring dream of mine

You know how it goes. You want to type “YEAH BOYYY!”, the catchphrase of eccentric rap star and reality TV personality Flavor Flav–in a Facebook status, perhaps, or at the end of your doctoral dissertation. But suddenly you’re seized with doubt. How, exactly, does one spell “YEAH BOYYYYYY”? Too few Y’s would appear unserious. Too many would look gauche. It’s a fine line.

I had this very problem last week, when I spent 24 hours appending the words “IN FULL EFFECT!” to my every Twitter update in honor of Public Enemy. Several times I was struck by the impulse to type the catchphrase of PE’s ubiquitous “hype man” in a celebratory manner–but didn’t want to look like a rube by misspelling it. (Luckily, Chuck D’s catchphrases are much easier to spell than Flavor’s.) Then it occurred to me that, for the first time in human history, I could definitively answer my question. I’d just use Google to get a cultural consensus on how many Y’s should appear in “YEAH BOYYYYYYYYY!”

Here’s the resulting chart: the number of hits Google returns when one searches for “YEAH BOYYYYY!” with a variable number of Y’s.

Number of Y’s Which looks like Google hits
1 YEAH BOY! 510,000
2 YEAH BOYY! 17,200
3 YEAH BOYYY! 14,000
4 YEAH BOYYYY! 7,080
5 YEAH BOYYYYY! 4,840
6 YEAH BOYYYYYY! 2,740
7 YEAH BOYYYYYYY! 1,460
8 YEAH BOYYYYYYYY! 1,440
9 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYY! 1,130
10 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYY! 610
11 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYY! 2,820
12 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYY! 479
13 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 1,830
14 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 288
15 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 190
16 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 227
17 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 134
18 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 275
19 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 110
20 YEAH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! 72

So it looks pretty close to logarithmic, with a couple bumps due to outlier uses like a sig quote or a MySpace profile name, and then a fairly long tail. (You don’t get down to single-digit hit counts before 31 Y’s, and the first spelling with no hits has 48 Y’s! I’m not going to type it here; if it got Google-indexed, that would ruin my results.)

The steepest dips are after three Y’s and six Y’s, so I think you can feel secure spelling it “YEAH BOYYY!” or “YEAH BOYYYYYY!” depending on variables like the size of the clock you have hanging around your neck at the time. Obviously I haven’t tackled potential spellings with runs of E’s as well (“YEAH BOYEEEEE!”) because I’ve already spent way too much time on this problem this morning and need to move on. All work and no play makes Jack a dull BOYYYYYYYYYYY!

Posted by Ken at 11:42 am