Monday, 28 June 2010

Oy Vey

I peeked into the sugar dispenser at work and found that it was about three coffees away from running empty. "Oy," I exclaimed and proceeded to refill it.

"Oy?" repeated my Filipino supervisor, Debbie. "You say 'oy'? We say 'oy' in the Philippines, too, but it means something different." She gave several examples of when a person speaking Tagalog may use 'oy'. To the best of my understanding, it's the approximate equivalent to the English "Oh!" during a light bulb moment.

At this point Soon broke into the conversation. "We use in Korea, too. In Korea, 'oy' mean 'cucumber'."

I found this fascinating. A Russian family friend has informed us that "oy" is the Russian way to say "ouch", and nearly 400 episodes of Naruto will tell you that the Japanese use "oy" to hail someone or catch their attention, as in "Oy, Naruto!"

My mom and I were also told by a Bible scholar that "oy" in Hebrew is a warning that you're going to be majorly punished if you don't smarten up. It's generally translated as "woe", as in "Woe to you, O Israel!" It's better than "hoy", though. "Hoy" in Hebrew is also translated as "woe", but actually means you're hosed, regardless of whether you smarten up or not. Essentially, "You're dead." As an aside, the freaky "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth," in Revelation 8:13 is "Hoy, hoy, hoy."

Hebrew and the Yiddish, "Oy vey," are pretty closely related. It translates to approximately, "Woe is me."

I wonder what "oy" means in other languages. If someone did a study on this, I'd read it.

There are really no good "oy" quotes of which I'm aware, so you get another taste of randomness today. Said my mother to me over lunch: "What?! How can anyone like the Bourne Identity but NOT like mangos?!"

2 comments:

Bri said...

I am so glad you work at Tim Horton's because there you get the inspiration for so many blog posts!

Interesting.

Yesterday at work we discovered we had barely any napkins left, so I drove to the DQ in Braeside to pick up more. After I got back we discovered that we were nearly out of cookie dough as well, so my manager went to a different DQ to pick some up. We soon needed to send a guy to Co-op to buy bananas.

art said...

oy boy oy boy. I do not know what how to comment on this. I checked Klingon and 'oy' in that language means "ache, pain, sore, hurt." Bejoy means "torture by women." Probably the same root word.