one (Ei, Ai, Aye - by itself):
Ei (eventually changed
to Ai in middle English and Aye in modern
Used to confirm which group
has a majority in a decision. It should never be the reply of an individual unless that person
. An example would be when
a group votes
yes or no. When
the vote is counted if more votes
are yes then the person representing
would respond "Ei". In reference
to the modern
British use of the word, when
the Vikings used to raid the coastlines they would take people prisoner to become conscripts, the crew would vote to kill the person
of the crew. If they voted
of the crew the reply to the captain would be a single "Ei"
It is important
to note the word does not mean "Yes".
It simply means the majoirty or a group
confirms or agrees.
the word is used twice together Aye-Aye):
This literally translates - Always; ever
What this means is the person making
the reply is saying
he is professing his devotion
to a group
This was the oath taking by conscripts when joining
the Norse Vikings.
The course of events
followed that the crew would vote to allow a prisoner to live and make them part
of the crew by voting "Ei" to the captain. The prisoner could
then swear an oath to become part
of the crew by responding to the captain "Ei-Ei
the crew has voted
and I pledge to them always.
But, the expression was also
used on the Viking ships when
replying to the captain and is a reference to the oath they
This is where the modern, misuse of the word comes from. The slang is a result of Ei-Ei
which was always used to agree with the captain and over time became confused to mean "Yes". In fact it does not mean that at all.
It means one agrees to join a group
forever and nothing else.
It is interesting because this history directly relates to the common phrase Yi-Ei-Man
Aye Aye (Ei Ei)Captain, I will do my part.