I have done a non-scientific study concerning a specific aspect of child development that has interested me since I was raising my own children. The subject is: How do you stop children and adolescents from saying "yea" and start using the word "yes"?

I have done a non-scientific study concerning a specific aspect of child development that has interested me since I was raising my own children.


The subject is: How do you stop children and adolescents from saying "yea" and start using the word "yes"?


This malady appears to be a chronic condition that thus far has defied effective treatment.


I have queried many parents of my pediatric patients concerning this linguistic misuse and have received varied responses.


Some say it doesn't bother them that their children continually say "yea." They were not included in the study.


Others responded to the question by saying, "Yea, it bothers me." They were also not included in the study.


Also excluded from the study were those who said it bothered them but not enough to do anything about it.


I then asked those who were concerned enough to do something about the issue, what did they did, and its effective rate.


Some parents said their initial approach was to explain to their children that the use of "yea" was not proper English, was a slang expression and they preferred that the child would not use it.


The success rate of this approach was zero.


The next approach was to correct the child each time he or she said "yea." This resulted in continuous corrections but little evidence that it was helpful.


The third approach was bribery. Whenever the child said "yes," he or she would be given a nickel or some other reward.


They also tried the opposite approach, charging the child a nickel each time "yea" was uttered. This resulted in receiving no nickels, many IOUs and meager success.


What is the etiology of this malady that is so resistant to treatment?


The "yea" syndrome affects both males and females, children of all economic levels, and has no regional limits. Yea can be heard in Boston, Omaha or San Francisco.


But why is treatment so elusive? Should the National Institutes of Health provide funding to find a cure for this chronic linguistic syndrome? Or, should we just accept that "yea" has become part of today's vocabulary? Is it really worth the effort to convince children they should no longer use it?


And, aren't there many more important childhood issues that need to be addressed?


The answer is yes.


However, like a stubborn warrior, I will continue to wage the battle against the pervasive use of "yea."


All helpful suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.