R.I.P Yogi Berra

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Beatrice Santorini's Linguistic Humor page has a good collection of sayings attributed to Yogi Berra (1925-2015). Maybe the most relevant one today is "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours".

I won't be able to attend Yogi's funeral, but I'll link to his NYT obituary.

Update — and to Ben Zimmer at Slate, "Yogi Berra Turned Linguistic Vice into Virtue with His Cock-Eyed Tautologies".

Update #2 — "Yogi was an anchor baby".



  1. Sili said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 9:23 am

    I think the appropriate response is: "Gud! Lever han endnu?!" (My God! He's still alive?)

  2. richardelguru said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

    Sili I too didn't know he was still alive until he wasn't.

  3. John Busch said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

    Unfortunately, most of the articles and obituaries mention the "mangled syntax" displayed in his famous quips, but in fact the syntax is fine. The humor is almost all semantic, having to do with truth conditions and polysemy.

  4. DPickering said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 4:59 pm

    Who knows if the quotes attributed to him were things he actually said, and if he actually did say them whether he was intending to be funny, but anytime I hear them they do make me smile, which I think is a good thing. Hopefully, though, he won't just be remembered for being a different sort of guy speaking in yogi-isms, hopefully he will be remembered as a very good man. Coopertown and DDay? RIP Yogi

  5. Chris C. said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

    One not on Santorini's page, but an undoubted Yogi-ism since it was in writing: "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."

    The man was a genius. RIP.

  6. Boursin said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 9:29 am

    Here in Finland, his death has invited comparisons with troubled but beloved ski jumper Matti Nykänen, who is similarly often misdescribed as a master of mangled syntax when semantics is really meant:


  7. Yuval said,

    September 25, 2015 @ 12:06 am

    And Israel has Alon Mizrahi, footballer extraordinaire:
    "I want to play in Europe or in Spain".
    "I have nothing to prove, and I proved it today on the field".
    "One needs to give one's minimal maximum".

  8. Y said,

    September 25, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

    I didn't know about Mizrahi. Plenty more (in Hebrew) here:
    "The problem is that 7-8 players were released this season, and that's just what I counted on the fingers of one hand."
    "Five out of four people have trouble with math."
    "Soccer players are smart people. We've got a head on our waist."
    "With time, the other players learned to give me self-respect."
    "To stay in the league we'll have to win against every team, especially the ones we play."
    "Are you the number one forward in Israeli soccer?" "I won't say, but clearly yes."

    He comes off as having the opposite of Yogi's modest charm.

  9. Roger Lustig said,

    September 25, 2015 @ 9:33 pm

    Two I haven't seen cited in any of the obits and reminiscences:

    "Hey, Yogi! What time is it?" "What, you mean now?"

    "90% of putts that are too short don't go in."

  10. Y said,

    September 26, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

    And the meta-Yogi quote: "I really didn’t say everything I said."

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