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I was reading about よう on Wiktionary and it says:

Interjection[edit] よう (rōmaji yō)

  1. A very informal greeting similar to yo.

    よう、元{げん}気{き}?
    Yō, genki?
    Yo! Howdy?

  2. A very informal (rude) interjection similar to hey.

    よう、待{ま}てよ。
    Yō, mateyo.
    Hey, wait.

This sounds exactly like the American "yo!" which is used for greetings and as "hey!".

Are they the same or do they have some nuances?

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  • I must admit I haven't heard this before, maybe it's regional? More commonly I've heard ういっす for a greeting that's like "yo" and おい for an interjection like "hey!"
    – psosuna
    Oct 27 '17 at 20:21
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My understanding of "yo" in English is what is explained here as follows.
note: English in italics was added by me for the sake of convenience.

【yo】スラング英語の意味 The meaning of slang English

Yo (オッス!~だよね!~ね!) [ヨ'ォゥ]  "Yo, whassup?" 「おい、調子どうだ?」

I noticed this one is used a lot lately. It's kind of like the equivalent of the Japanese "ne." People tend to put it on the end of their sentences when talking with friends but it doesn't mean anything. It's just kind of funny in my opinion. Some example sentences would be "Dude, don't you be messin' with my stuff, yo."

..., yoと、会話の最後に"yo"(ヨゥ)をつける表現は、ティーン英語の定番ですね。上の説明のように、意味は特になく、「~ね」「~だよね」という表現になるんです。(もちろん、"Yo, whassup?"といった、日本語の「ヨウ!」や、"Yo mama is crazy"といった"your"や"you"を表す表現も頻出です! Of course, it is also used frequently in usage such as "Yo, whassup?" corresponding to "ヨウ!" in Japanese or "yo" in "Yo mama is crazy" for "your" or "you".)

Although I cannot understand the subtle nuance that "yo" in English is supposed to have even if reading this article, I'll explain the usage of the example sentences quoted from Wiktionary by the questioner.

  • Interjection よう (rōmaji yō) for the use in 1 is correct on the condition that "よう (yō) is masculine but gives a rude impression at times" written in Wikitionary. If you want to use in a normal informal greeting not in a very informal one, you are better to use "やあ" instead of "よう".
    Relating to this case, psosuna made a comment that "More commonly I've heard ういっす for a greeting that's like "yo" and おい for an interjection like "hey!"", but I think ういっす is used only in a very very very informal greeting among male youngsters. I hope you don't use it.

  • As for the use in 2, I perfectly agree with the explanation written in Yannick's answer as follows:

    I have not been in the situation to use the second case that much, so it sounds unnatural to me. But in terms of interjections any one of おい、ちょ、ちょっと seem more appropriate and natural, in my experience.

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I will paraphrase and try to translate the following answer, dealing with the etymology part of the question. The author seems to be quoting Nihon kokugo daijiten (日本国語大辞典). It seems that よう! or よお! as a greeting, has made its first (confirmed) appearance in the late 16th century. Said appearance was in a christian-published japanese dictionary (since these were the beginning times of the first christian missions to japan).

After that the term, used as a greeting, has made frequent appearances in Edo period texts such as Kabuki and Jōruri texts, common folk art and songs. According to the cited book this leads to the conclusion that the term is a japanese-born one without foreign-language influences.

Just to add my two cents, in my experience よう! or よお! is limited to greetings. So yes I guess よう/よお can sometimes be used like yo for greetings. I personally use it a lot with closer friends.

I have not been in the situation to use the second case that much, so it sounds unnatural to me. But in terms of interjections any one of おい、ちょ、ちょっと seem more appropriate and natural, in my experience.

Again this was mostly about the etymology tag, I am no native, and I am also not sure about what nuances you exactly want to get at. So my experience based opinions are to be taken with a grain of salt.

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