The Oxford English Dictionary

SANTA CLARA (Diya TV) — Aiyah! Now, who knew this could happen!? So here’s what it is, how many times does the word ‘Aiyah’ or a variant of that pop up in your head and you’ve stopped yourself from using it? I guess a lot of times. This expression is so commonly used among the South Asians that now the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has included “Aiyoh” and “Aiyah” in the latest edition this September.

Ummm…really? Have these words really been included to the OED? I always wondered if that was correct english to speak, says an eight year old Visisht Kakkirala. We are always conscious about this language in the corporate world and especially staying in the United States, we need to watch our language more often.

Like many other Indian words, these words also have many contextual meanings depending on the tone of its usage. It can sound surprise, pity, irritation, pain, disappointment, disgust, dismay and etc. And with slight variation, sounding tensed- it could go like “Ai-yi-yoh… I am late in submitting this article”.

“I’m appalled at the inclusion of this word!” says Shailaja Vishwanath, former English teacher and currently freelance writer-editor.

These expressions are not restricted to the South Indians alone, but also many other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, China, Singapore and Malaysia use it too. In fact, in the dictionary it is referred that ‘Aiyoh’ is credited to have its origins in Mandarin while ‘Aiyah’ is said to have come from Cantonese.

Rani Mukherjee from the movie Aiyyaa
Rani Mukherjee from the movie Aiyyaa

The Oxford English Dictionary is over 150 years old and has the legacy of over 600,000 entries and its publisher- the Oxford University Press calls it the “Bible of correct English”. And most writers students believe that if the word does not exist in the OED then it isn’t English.  Author and veteran journalist Gita Aravamudan, however, dismisses this inclusion as “just hype”. “I think we have a vibrant language of our own in India drawn from different parts of the country and we don’t need an endorsement from others for our language. The OED is quite irrelevant now.” 

I guess the word is so commonly used that there is also a movie in Bollywood, “Aiyyaa” starring Rani Mukherjee and Prithviraj.

So if it’s in Bollywood, it must be a word worth including, na?

What do you think? Share your comments with me and let me know if you’d like to see me write about any other such interesting topics.