Explained: Why a virus detected in Australian mosquitoes has been named Yada Yada

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The novel virus poses no threat to human beings, because it is a part of a group of viruses that only infect mosquitoes. (File photo)

A novel virus detected in Australian mosquitoes has been provisionally named the Yada Yada virus (YYV), after the catchphrase made famous by the American sitcom Seinfeld.

The Cambridge dictionary defines the phrase as an informal exclamation used to describe boring speech.

The scientists' findings have been published in a short paper in the American Society for Microbiology journal, 'Microbiology Resource Announcements', last week.

In a tweet, Jana Batovska, who is one of the authors of the paper from the AgriBio Centre for AgriBioscience in Victoria, Australia said, "Lastly, yes - we did name the virus after Seinfeld! The rise of metagenomic sequencing has resulted in an explosion of virus discovery, with new viruses being announced every day - this is another one: Yada Yada virus. (also, Seinfeld is awesome)".

What is the Yada Yada virus?

Journal 'Science' reported on January 11 that the virus is named so because the discovery "isn't all that exciting." When the team of researchers extracted RNA from a large number of mosquitoes in Australia's Victoria state, they found a new alphavirus, which belonged to a group that includes other alphaviruses such as chikungunya virus and the astern equine encephalitis.

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Even so, the novel virus poses no threat to human beings, because it is a part of a group of viruses that only infect mosquitoes. Other viruses in the same group include the Tai forest alphavirus and the Agua Salud alphavirus.

Therefore, while the discovery of the virus does not have any direct implications for human beings, in the papers, the authors have mentioned that YYV's discovery expands the "diversity and geographic range" of mosquito-specific alphavirus complexes, which may help in revealing the origin of the virus and "host switching".

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On Twitter, Batovska said, "Mosquito-specific viruses can help us understand how viruses evolved and can be really useful for vaccine production and diagnostics."

What does 'yada yada' mean?

The phrase featured in an episode of Seinfeld titled, "The Yada Yada", which originally aired on April 24, 1997. The usage in the episode implies a reference to something that is synonymous with "etcetera, etcetera" or "blah blah".

In this particular episode, the character of George Costanza inquires about his girlfriend's friend, who she tells him apparently has Legionnaire's disease. In response to his question, "Really? What happened?", the girlfriend replies, "Oh, yada yada yada, just some bad egg salad..."

This particular episode is believed to have popularised the phrase's usage in America and also made it a significantly familiar Seinfeld reference. Significantly, 'yada yada' finds mention as one of the phrases in the show that have "taken a life of their own within the American lexicon," as per a paper titled, "A linguistic analysis of humor: A look at Seinfeld" by the University of Montana.

A 2005 paper published by the University of Nebraska Press, titled "Collegiality and the Yada-Yada Trope", likens the usage of "yada yada" to a "common rhetorical ploy" where users employ "empty words" and let their audiences "fill in the blank".

"The yada-yada trope" depends for its effect on words that require you to "fill in the blank" in statements that omit "significant details"," the paper says. The author includes the words good, better and best as other examples of empty words, that are typically used to invite comparisons "without stipulating any criteria whatsoever."

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known usage of the phrase was in 1967, and it is considered to be the alteration of an earlier word "yatata", which meant idle chatter. In the Hebrew language, the word "yada" means to "know".