When I visited St. Olaf College last week, I wanted to find out what the expression “Um! Yah! Yah!” meant.
No luck. The folks I spoke to really didn’t know.
Then I found the 2005 St. Olaf magazine article above on the Web.
The rouser, it turns out, is actually based upon the old St. Olaf Faculty Hymn. … When you read the refrain(s), which apparently neither the faculty nor anyone else could commit to memory, you will immediately understand why the original words were replaced by the easier-to-remember, albeit somewhat ridiculous, nonsense phrase “um yah yah.”
So “Um! Yah! Yah!” is supposed to replace the tongue-twisting refrains in bold below:
Gulbrandson, Narveson, Huggenvik, Ellingson,
Amundson, Klaragard, Halvorson, Roe.
Fredrickson, Rasmussen, Tollefsrud, Peterson,
Skogerboe, Faillettaz, Jorgenson, Boe.
Christensen, Sheveland, Gustafson, Maakestad,
Lokensgaard, Skurdalsvold, Wrigglesworth, Ross.
Rovelstad, Jacobson, Lutterman, Otterness,
Erickson, Gunderson, Iverson, Foss.
Thormodsgard, Bieberdorf, Overby, Gimmestad,
Kittelsby, Ytterboe, Hinderlie, Njus.
Ditmanson, Odegaard, Hilleboe, Anderson,
Anderson, Anderson, Anderson, Muus!
Yeah, I can see why they did that.
Still doesn’t explain the choice of “Um! Yah! Yah!” as the replacement, though.
Must have been the times.