And, by the way, I asked her and it turns out that my Mother-in-law IS speaking Yiddish when she says “oi”, afterall!
This used to be a Southern thing – it has spread, which makes me kind of sad, as I miss being made fun of for it by my relatives in Kansas.
Here’s a clue if a person is REALLY Southern – anyone these days will say “hey” in greeting, but if you are talking ABOUT greeting someone, and still use “hey,” you are a true Southerner. For example:
Is there any romantic meaning in the word hey?Never a use a hi or hello, but a comfortable hey used in conversation.
But still seems a bit disrespectful to these 75 year old ears
I live in Cincinnati, and “hey” is very common here. It is, however, considered “familiar” and informal; you would never say “hey” to your boss. It is often used in a flirtatious sense, at least around here.
When I learned English letter writing, the only Salutation available was “Dear”Mr. So and So. not “Hey”Mr. So and So
For familiar use, especially in daily speech, anything goes and Hey can be tolerated, accepted and may even be endearing. But there has to be a difference in formal letter writing, there should be some politeness, refinement and grace. I can’t imagine for example the teacher sending a note to the students starting with:
If that’s already happening, what has become of this country’s culture? Does the word respect and refinement still exist? Have we given up on being classy at the expense of being hip, young or modern as an excuse?
Here I’ve been a tad offended by a daughter-in-law addressing me with “Hey” instead of Hi Mom or something similar. Getting a card today from a 15 year old grandde, I realized it must be a new form of greeting.
“Hey” wasn’t used as a greeting when I was young (in Alaska and Washington). I suspect the present use of “hey” for a greeting came from that usage.
I use “Hey” often. It is familiar and has affectionate overtones. I learned English growing up in northern Idaho. I lived in eastern Washington for the last 10 years and I’m now 25 years old.
However, in the 60s the blacks made “Hey, Man” popular among the younger generation
Interestingly Hello was originally hullo, which was an exclamation of surprise.”Hullo! what have we here”That being the case, I’m all for using hey as a greeting.
I’ve noticed that a number of books I’ve read from 1940’s and female escort Huntington Beach CA before, from the UK, use “hallo” rather than “hullo” or “hello”.
The first time I ever heard “Hey!” used as a greeting, was Gomer Pyle using it on The Andy Griffith Show. I always thought might be where it started.
The term “oi” is more of a “hoy” but the h is dropped. I’m an English male. Hoy!, for example, is more about admonishment or negatively putting someone down who may be either cheeky or trying to get away with something. Form example, if I was cheeky to dad, he’d say oy, with a dropped h for being cheeky. The Yiddish version is more of an elongated oyyyyyy, and more about dispair or exasperation than a greeting. At least this is my take on the topic
Willie Mays was known as the “Say Hey Kid” from early in his career with the NY Giants which started in 1951 and all baseball loving Canadians like me were aware of that, but I don’t think we started to use “hey” as another way of saying “hi” until at least the 60s and perhaps later.