, , is a British
and Australian slang interjection
used to get someone's attention. The American English
equivalent is the interjection "hey
". It is also used in Singapore
, with the alternate pronunciation oi.
In 1932, Harry Carlton wrote "The "Oi!" Song", which is a comic ditty employing the exclamation. Bert Ambrose and his orchestra recorded it that year, and the song made the rounds of British music halls. In the late 1970s, a working class subgenre of punk rock was developed called Oi!.
Oi in other languages
Similar interjections are found in many languages:
- In Catalan, "Oi!" is an interjection used to call someone's attention or "Oi?" to ask for confirmation (sometimes rethorically). Etymologically, it is believed to derive from Òc, the affirmative particle (i.e., yes) in Occitan.
- In Dutch, the word "Oi" is sometimes used as a short for "Hoi", a greeting with the same meaning as "Hi" in English.
- In Hindi, Punjabi and other North Indian languages, "Oye" can be used as an exclamation, or as an attention-calling word in an informal environment.
- In Korean and Japanese, as in Catalan, "Oi" can be used to get another person's attention, but its use in both cultures is considered too casual for many situations, and potentially offensive in some. In Japanese this word is considered part of "masculine" or "rough" slang vocabulary.
- In Yiddish and Hebrew, "אוי" is an interjection used as English "oh, my", "oh, dear". It is used to express fear, surprise or pain. See: Oy vey.
- In Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, "Oi" or "Oj" (Øj in Danish) is an expression of surprise, positively as an astonishment (similar to English "Wow", neutral as in startled (comparable with English "Oops"), or disappointed with a drawn out intonation and descending pitch. (The same can be found in Finnish, but as "voi"). The English sense of "oi" is also used colloquially in Norwegian and Swedish, but is written "øyh!" and "oj!" respectively.
- In Finnish "oi" is used as an expression of reverence, like "oh" in English. ("Oh almighty God").
- In Italian it is used a small variation, "Ohi". As the h has no sound, this expression has exactly the same pronunciation that "Oi", and for this is often misspelled.
- In Portuguese, especially in Brazil, the word "Oi" is the most common and popular way of greeting people, having the same meaning as "Hi" in English.
- In the Philippines, the similar form "hoy" and "uy" is also used to get someone's attention; it is considered vulgar.
- In Lithuanian, the similar form of the saying is "ej" or "ei", used to get someone's attention.
- In Spanish a similar variation of "Oye" (the "y" sound may be dropped in the Americas) is used to the same effect, usually in a casual environment.
- In Galician The similarly sounding "Oe!" is also used to get someone's attention.
- In Slavic languages like Polish or Russian, the word "oj!" (or "ej!", "ojej!") is an interjection used as English "oh, my", "oh, dear". It is used to express fear, surprise or pain. In Poznań dialect of Polish there is an interjection "tej" [tei] which is used to get attention or as an interpolation.
- In Turkish language,"Oi" is also used to get someone's attention.
- In Romanian language, "Hei!" is used in casual situations to get someone's attention, to call someone, to express excitement or surprise.