Y is for Yakoots
There is no letter Y in Greek, either ancient or modern. And what’s interesting is some posit that that’s why there are so few English words beginning with the letter Y – since Greek and Latin are root languages for English. So why Yakoots and what’s the connection. Work with me, Ill get there.
First, Yakoots is a word for a nomadic Mongolian tribe native of Northern Siberia most likely of Turkish stock who are also mainly pastoral in their habits (which I like to think means they listen to a pastor a lot, but I could be wrong). There is some Mongol in my heritage – being a Jew whose family was pushed, plundered, nudged, conquered, and pogromed from one part of the Ukraine east, south, and north from Poland to Hungary and Rumania (and eventually to the US but I’m pretty sure that was by boat right around 1900 – hello Bronx and Brooklyn!)
Second it is one very cool sounding word that could easily be a curse if you think about the way it sounds – it is almost spit out of the mouth.
Third is reminds me of Yakutsk from RISK which is one of the great world conquest and domination games ever made – just behind Diplomacy which if you’ve never played you haven’t fully lived (it is a great simulation of the diplomatic wrangling of pre WWI that should be played in every World History class). Any word that reminds me of the game RISK is a good word.
Fourth, in Greek the word for nothing is tipota. And Yakoots with it’s image of life in Northern Siberia, desolate, cold, harsh, reflects this for me. As a writer being faced with nothing – the blank page – is both the most exciting and horrifying of prospects. Exciting because we will cross into Siberia and put footprints across the snow, filling that page with words. Horrifying because the journey may very well take us deep within ourselves and every inward journey is a journey not to be taken lightly.