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Yada Yada Virus: A new pathogen discovery that’s just, well, yada yada

Yada Yada is an alphavirus, a group of viruses that the researchers described as “small, single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses (that) include species important to human and animal health..."

Written by Mehr Gill | New Delhi | Updated: January 18, 2020 7:42:03 am
Yada Yada Virus: A new pathogen discovery that’s just, well, yada yada YYV takes its name from ‘The Yada Yada’, an episode of the television sitcom Seinfeld. (File Photo)

Merriam-Webster says yada yada is “boring or empty talk”, a way to recount words that are “too dull or predictable to be worth repeating”. The Cambridge dictionary says yada yada is only “blah blah blah”.

Researchers who last week reported the discovery of a new virus conceded that the discovery wasn’t a big deal, given that “the rise of metagenomic sequencing has resulted in an explosion of virus discovery, with new viruses being announced every day”, as Jana Batovska, one of the authors of the short paper published in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal Microbiology Resource Announcements, posted on Twitter. Appropriately, therefore, the researchers have named their discovery “Yada Yada virus” (YYV).

YYV takes its name from ‘The Yada Yada’, an episode of the television sitcom Seinfeld, which aired on the American network NBC on April 24, 1997. (“Yes — we did name the virus after Seinfeld!… Seinfeld is awesome”, Batovska tweeted.) Characters in the show used “yada yada” in the sense of “et cetera, et cetera” or “blah blah” — so, when George Costanza’s character asks his girlfriend how someone got Legionnaires’ disease, she replies, “Oh, yada yada yada, just some bad egg salad…”

Inspired by Seinfeld

While “yada yada” had already been used by several American stand-up comics and stage personalities for several years before this episode of the iconic TV series (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, its first known use in the popular sense was in 1967), it was as a “Seinfeldism, the lingo, vocabulary, and phrases coined by the writers of the show”, that gave it “a life of (its) own within the American lexicon”, University of Montana researchers Elizabeth Magnotta and Alexandra Strohl wrote in their 2011 paper ‘A linguistic analysis of humor: A look at Seinfeld’.

Yada Yada is an alphavirus, a group of viruses that the researchers described as “small, single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses (that) include species important to human and animal health, such as Chikungunya virus and Eastern equine encephalitis virus… (and which) are transmitted primarily by mosquitoes and (are) pathogenic in their vertebrate hosts”. Unlike some other alphaviruses, Yada Yada does not pose a threat to human beings.

The virus was detected in mosquitoes trapped as part of the Victorian Arbovirus Disease Control Programme in Encephalitis Virus Surveillance traps set up overnight in three locations in Victoria, Australia, for seven weeks in late 2016, the researchers reported.

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