Finglese.

Lisa Hilton’s TLS essay ‘Il trend’ for finglese (January 1, 2021; archived) is pretty much a standard-issue thumbsucker on alleged flooding of a language, in this case Italian, by the all-devouring colossus English, with the usual mix of nonsense (“eventually leaves native speakers unable to express certain concepts without recourse to the Anglo imports”), dubious statistics (“A study by Tullio de Mauro in the 1980s claimed that 2 per cent of words in the press derived from English, a figure which is now estimated to have risen to 10 per cent”), and interesting-if-true facts; here’s the start:

One festive tradition that my daughter and I were able to continue this year was our annual viewing of Carlo Vanzina’s classic Italian comedy Vacanza di Natale (1983), shot on the sparkling slopes of Cortina d’Ampezzo and as essential a part of an Italian family Christmas as the Queen’s speech in Britain. Usually, we dress up in salopettes and bobble hats and make use of a wedding-present raclette set, but this year we were isolating in a glorified garden shed in Sussex, so we had to content ourselves with curling up on a small sofa like a pair of inverted commas. Still, it was nice to be reminded that there are still mountains somewhere.

Months of shrunken horizons seemed to bring a new focus. The film’s stiletto-stab at the Italian class system remains as sharp as ever, I noted, but its satire on the linguistic pretensions of the upwardly mobile has proved less an observation than a prediction. Guido Nicheli plays Donato, a pushy, status-obsessed Milanese industrialist who shows himself up with his attempts to speak English. Think Betjeman’s “How To Get On in Society” on skis. Donato’s attempts to appear sophisticated and cosmopolitan consist in mispronounced, inapt English idioms, which Italian audiences greet with glee. His catchphrase, “See you later”, even became the title of the actor’s biography. The incursion of “itanglese” or “finglese” (fake English) is getting beyond a joke, however.

In The Sabre Squadron (1966), the third volume of his Alms for Oblivion sequence, Simon Raven was mean about Italian: “A degenerate tongue … its constant juxtaposition of the diminutive with the grandiose transposes everything … to the same level of trivial hysteria. No wonder the Italians are at once so conceited and so futile; their language compels them to live a libretto”. There is some truth in this. To read great Italian writing of the twentieth century – Lampedusa, say, or Eco, is to marvel at the suppleness, complexity and precision of which the language is capable, but day-to-day speech can indeed often feel trapped between the hyperbolic and the understated. A lack of synonyms might be part of the problem; any judgement on whether something is good or bad, from a Renaissance fresco to a greeting card, tends to involve a variation of “brutto” or “bello”, while nouns of recent vintage are often drawn directly from English – thus “il leader” will today consider “il road map” of “il welfare” for “l’exit strategy” from “lockdown”. (It may be notable that nearly all such neologisms, when concerned with politics, are gendered masculine.) According to the Grande dizionario Italiano dell’uso, Italian has 260,000 stem words, from which an averagely educated speaker will draw on a vocabulary of about 47,000. However, 98 per cent of spoken Italian is regularly taken from a pool of just 7,000 words. English has more than one million words, but the average speaker’s vocabulary is smaller, at 40,000. Conversely, that average English speaker will customarily choose from 20,000 words within that vocabulary, with hugely amplified potential for variation. Italian seems particularly vulnerable to linguistic takeover, a process which has been accelerated by the influence of the internet.

I have to say I’m dubious that “‘finglese’ (fake English)” is a term in actual use; Google provides no support for it. But the piece ends with one of those interesting-if-true bits: allegedly kids today are using dialect in their texting. And the whole thing was worth it for this pleasing anecdote:

The Fascists had a go at grammar, too, banning the formal address of lei as effeminate and reminiscent of slavish social distinction and replacing it with voi (wags referred to Galileo Galivoi, which is funnier in Italian).

Comments

  1. David Eddyshaw says

    Among much other quite extraordinary nonsense, I was struck especially by

    In 2015, the Roman town council mooted a proposal to change the city’s ancient motto S.P.Q.R. to the supposedly more forward-looking “Rome and You”. That bit of nonsense was duly shouted down, but the battering of Italian goes on

    I wonder what Italian words Lisa Hilton imagines “SPQR” actually stands for?

  2. Stu Clayton says

    To read great Italian writing of the twentieth century – Lampedusa, say, or Eco, is to marvel at the suppleness, complexity and precision of which the language is capable, but day-to-day speech can indeed often feel trapped between the hyperbolic and the understated.

    Everyone who’s anyone often feels trapped like that, in whatever language. It’s aggravated by ignorance and impatience. Paradoxically, one escapes by shutting one’s trap and not listening.

  3. David Eddyshaw says

    Wovon man nicht sprechen kann …

  4. Stu Clayton says

    … darüber sollte man die Klappe halten.

  5. Or, as they say in Italy, shaddapa you mout!

  6. David Eddyshaw says

    They are a philosophical people.

  7. Stu Clayton says

    My on-the-ground Italian is still pretty much restricted to words like “taleggio” and “quindi”. I learn more each time I buy at the inexpensive Salumeria Toscana down the street. The owner Clemente likes Sparky and gives him the cutting remains, so Sparky likes him. Cosí fan tutte !

    I recently learned of “cavolo nero”. But how to stress “cavolo” – like “fegato” or not ? It’s Kohl in German. That gave me a clue, and it turns out to be right: “CAvolo” !! [do not guess like this at home]

  8. @languagehat: No, no, “shaddapa you mout(a)” is Brooklynese (my native language), or what my cousins in Sicily affectionately call Broccolinese or Bruculinese — my home town and broccoli being forever conjoined in their minds (and, consequently, mine).

  9. Broccolinese

    I love it!

  10. (I have never been to Italy, but I have been to Brooklyn, so my confusion is understandable.)

  11. It’s natural for me to conflate Brooklyn with Italy (or parts of it). I remember the first time I went to Rome, in 1979, walking down the side streets and feeling uncannily like I was back in the old neighborhood. These days, one might have similar feelings walking the side streets of Taipei, Moscow, or any number of other world capitals. Enchanting place, Broccolino — though, based on my experience visiting the Brooklyn Museum a week ago, the drivers are as nuts as ever.

  12. What is the distinction between “shaddapa you mouta” and “shaddap you face“?

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    It’s just elegant variation.

  14. I think 20000 words (stems? lexems?) in everyday use of an average English speaker is too much. It obviously depends on how one measures, but it should be around the same as the Italian figure.

  15. John Cowan says

    I wonder what Italian words Lisa Hilton imagines “SPQR” actually stands for?

    “Sono porci, questi Romani”?

    “eventually leaves native speakers unable to express certain concepts without recourse to the Anglo imports”

    Oh, I don’t know. Most English speakers by birth have a mickle bother saying words to mean some, umm, what-you-may-call-ums without French, Norse, and Latin incomers.

    It obviously depends on how one measures, but it should be around the same as the Italian figure.

    Again, I don’t know. English has kingly, regal, royal. three roots, where Chinese uses the single root 王 wáng.

  16. I wonder what Italian words Lisa Hilton imagines “SPQR” actually stands for?

    You are being pedantic. Latin is « old Italian » and an indigenous language, unlike English. The other argument would be that if « Weekend » is Italian, as most descriptivists would agree it is, than clearly « Senatus populusque romanus » is as well, but « Roma and you » is not, not yet at least.

  17. Latin really is far removed from Italian, see this wiseacre.

  18. I tend to be sympathetic to any complaints about the incursion of English into any other language. The arguments are really about class and social power. Anglophone societies currently dominate the world, and the upper middle class in pretty much every European country love to flaunt their superior education and breeding at the expense of the provincials who didn’t get to go to English summer camp and spend a semester of high school in Los Angeles.

    Just last night an Austrian news broadcaster introduced a story about the ongoing battle over the proposed Lobau tunnel in Vienna with the statement “Das scheint ein «Neverending Story » geworden zu sein”

    But wait, don’t most Millennials think of the movie when they hear that phrase? A movie based on the German language novel « Die Unendliche Geschichte »? Anglo/American culture has apparently colonised German/Austrian minds to the extent that people have to translate German into English even to communicate with their own colinguals.

  19. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists

    “Most common words in TV and movie scripts: …
    Top 1,000 words cover 85.5% of all words (24,981,922/29,213,800).
    Top 10,000 words cover 97.2% of all words (28,398,152/29,213,800).”

    I am sure there are better sources… Ideally of course, we need a transcript of everything that ONE person says (over many years).

    But I do not understand these 40k. Everyone can estimate the size of her active/passive/any vocabulary. Just take a dictionary and open it at random (say, every 50 pages), read the first word and rate it: “do I know it, do I use it, how often?”. If you believe the sample is too small, keep doing it until you are tired.

  20. John Cowan says

    an indigenous language, unlike English

    Yes, in the sense that the English were preceded by the Welsh. No, in the sense that Italian is the dominant language of Italy and indigenous language in modern use excludes it. The Germans are indigenous (sense 1) to Germany if anyone is indigenous to anywhere, but Germans are not an indigenous (sense 2) people.

  21. “Finglese” sounds like the Italian for Fingallian, whose equivalent of “shaddapa you mout” is “peace thy prateing, for dee leef”.

  22. Germans are not an indigenous (sense 2) people.
    Some Germans beg to differ.

  23. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    As David Eddyshaw rightly points out, the amount of extraordinary nonsense is remarkable. Where does one even start?

    1. The movie that started the cinepanettone genre is Vacanze di Natale and not *vacanza, a (correct) singular that would be unidiomatic in this context. In any case, the cinepanettone (by the way, as purely Italian a neologism as they come) tradition, for those who observe it, is watching the latest such movie in the theater. I wonder if anyone but Britons watches Vacanze di Natale annually at home, let alone in themed costume. The actual Italian tradition (possibly proving the author’s point about Italian subservience to American culture) is watching Trading Places, which airs every year on broadcast TV, typically on Chrismas Eve but at the very least on a neighboring night.

    2. English certainly has a wider range of etymological roots, though that’s a weird point to make in an article that espouses a remarkably fascist sensitivity about cleansing Italian of non-Latin etymologies. On the other hand, the claim this etymological diversity must result in a paucity of synonyms in Italian very much sounds like condescending neo-colonialist claptrap. English has kingly, regal, royal, as John Cowan points out; but Italian squeezes out of the same Latin root reale, regale, regio: you’d be very ill-advised to substitute one randomly for the others.

    The claim that “any judgement on whether something is good or bad … tends to involve a variation of ‘brutto’ or ‘bello'” seems ludicrously un-idiomatic to me. Set aside that brutto and bello mean ugly and pretty and definitely not good and bad. How much exposure to Italian can you possibly have without realizing that a greeting card is at least as likely (in my circles, considerably more likely) to be rated as carina or simpatica, or figa (fica depending on the region) if your grandmother isn’t hearing, or graziosa if she is, than bella? And that’s without saying you wouldn’t get a passing grade in my (public) high-school art-history class by describing a Renaissance fresco as bello.

    3. English words definitely don’t all come into Italian as masculine, whether they concern politics or not. At least in my idiolect, and probably for a majority of Italians, Ms Meloni is much more naturally la leader of her (worryingly neo-fascist) party than il leader thereof. There’s hardly any doubt the Italian gender is feminine for la road map and l’exit strategy, for the simple reason that few Italians, no matter how poorly educated, are clueless enough not to grasp the transparent correspondence between these Latinate English words and the corresponding Italian feminines mappa and strategia. Curiously enough, “pure” Italian for road map would be the masculine foglio di rotta, though I presume it would feel awkwardly fascist for most Italians, as for myself, to substitute the latter for the former.

    4. I’m no better informed than the author, since I speak no language of Italy other than standard Italian, but I’m extremely skeptical of her claim that “dialect is ideally suited to texting and SnapChat, especially since the olds have forgotten how to speak it.” First, if I can think of anything that would make any language ideally suited to texting, that would be brevity. On that account, English beats romance languages and Latin beats English. I await with bated breath Italian teenagers’ Latin texts. Second, how on Earth is the Italian youth supposed to be learning languages their elders have forgotten?

    Finally, to close with a bit of evidence, the entire online homepage of the main Italian newspaper (Corriere della Sera) currently includes the following list of English-derived words, grouped according to my own (highly fallible, needless to say) perception thereof.

    Whatever ones makes of my grouping, I’m sure there are considerably more than 2,000 words on that page, so the 39 examples of English, generously including English-derived Italian, are significantly less than 2% of the total.

    A. Shorter or lazier English words for which an Italian synonym is readily available and sounds idiomatic to me

    i. COVID NEWS could be NOTIZIE SUL COVID, but I suppose it’s somewhat exculpatory the following item is BOLLETTINO COVID and it takes a considerable amount of nerd-view to figure out the difference.

    ii. violazione della policy could be violazione delle regole.

    iii. Supermarket could be Supermercati (it’s plural in context).

    iv. coppia killer could be coppia assassina.

    v. Ok could be .

    vi. gender gap is tricky: il divario tra i sessi is impeccable Italian, but dangerously old-fashioned in failing to distinguish sex and gender (not a traditional distinction in Italian, needless to say). It could be il divario di genere instead, but is such an obvious calque of gender gap better than the original?

    vii. gang could be bande (it’s plural in context).

    viii. racket could be estorsione.

    ix. star dei social could be divo dei social. However, i social belongs to the next category and sounds like a win for Italian, where English is stuck with the more cumbersome social media.

    x. sold out could be tutto esaurito.

    xi. le host is a possibly misguided triumph of “elegant variation” (a strong urge for Italian writers, myself included) over linguistic purity. The title calls them le volontarie instead.

    xii. al party could be alla festa.

    xiii. Lockdown could be Confinamento.

    xiv. con delivery could be con consegna a domicilio, but that’s way longer. Anyway, one could write a whole treatise on the un-Italianness of the notion of getting food delivered to your hearth instead of preparing it there.

    xv. check up nutrizionale could be an esame nutrizionale.

    xvi. la band emiliana. Could it still be il complesso emiliano? I may be dating myself with this suggestion.

    xvii. il brand could be il marchio.

    B. Technical English words that Italian hasn’t bothered to re-coin.

    xviii. un pacemaker

    xix. setter inglese. I don’t even know what fascists wanted to call this dog breed, if anything else. Maybe they wanted to promote pure Italian breeds instead?

    xx. il medley. I don’t know enough about pop music to guarantee this could not be translated. On the other hand, is it a testament to my Italian patriotism that I listen to plenty of concertos, operas and sonatas?

    xxi. lo streaming.

    xxii. nel cast.

    xxiii. il tennis. If fascism tried to rename the sport, not even the memory of their attempt survived.

    xxiv. le lobby. For the fascist censor, i gruppi di interesse might do, but just barely.

    xxv. il flipper.

    xxvi. jeans

    C. English imports that enrich the Italian language relative to their translation

    xxvii. un welfare migliore. In Italian welfare means something and benessere something else, while English is stuck with the same word for both. Maybe we can bemoan the modernity that makes it il welfare instead of il guelfro or whatever of the sort it’d be if we’d imported it 700 years ago, but c’est la vie—or should I say, that’s life?

    xxviii. la libertà di flirtare. How is this perfectly well-formed verb any less Italian than the noun guerra, surely the ultimate sign of submission to our Germanic overlords?

    xxix. boss. In Italian, boss means unambiguously an organized-crime boss and not any other kind.

    xxx. in chat. Italian retains the useful ability to distinguish between una chiacchierata and una chat.

    xxxi. il leader della Lega. Admittedly it could be Il segretario della Lega, but that would be more formal. Calling him il duce della Lega would be etymologically impeccable and Dante-approved; but, in spite his ideological leanings, it could fairly be considered libelous in light of some intervening unpleasantness.

    Likewise, il leader 5 Stelle could be il presidente 5 Stelle, but that would be weird because parties don’t normally get to have presidents—though nothing but common sense prevents them from officially naming their leader “emperor” or “messiah” either, and the 5-Star Movement isn’t exactly known for its surfeit of common sense.

    xxxii. autori gay. Does gay even mean “merry” anymore in English?

    xxxiii. pixelato. A second well-formed Italian neologism, though purists might prefer avoiding the x.

    D. Pretentious (and indeed overwhelmingly Milanese) attempts at English-language branding

    xxxiv. Corriere Daily Podcast could be Il Podcast quotidiano del Corriere, though podcast belongs to category B.

    xxxv. il food festival could be il salone del gusto.

    xxxvi. COVER STORY could be PRIMA PAGINA

    xxxvii. Star Wars. I grew up with Guerre Stellari, but that was three movies only.

    xxxviii. Tennis&Friends could be Amici per il tennis.

    xxxix. la Civil Week should be la Settimana Civica. I’m skeptical the Milanese bureaucrats in question even got their English right — wouldn’t “Civic Week” be more appropriate in English too?

  24. I was hoping you’d come by to set her straight!

  25. David Eddyshaw says

    I think the most fundamental error is that, like many another clueless pontificator on language, she basically falls for the a-language-is-a-bag-of-words stuff. Even if her dubious numbers regarding vocabulary were actually valid and meaningful*, it would have no bearing whatsoever on the expressiveness or otherwise of contemporary Italian.

    * Superfluous, here, to point out their actual arbitrariness and lack of any scientific basis. I’m quite often struck, incidentally, with how often I come across a Kusaal word which is unknown to all the extant dictionaries. Nobody knows the size of the Kusaal vocabulary. It’s certainly true that a given Kusaal word often covers the semantic range of several distinct English words, but context pretty much always “disambiguates” (scare quotes because no disambiguation is in fact needed, except for somebody trying to translate the Kusaal into English.) And of course, the reverse is also true: yɔ’ɔg and lak both mean “open”, but they are not synonyms. Yet the impoverishment of English vocabulary in this domain seems to lead to little confusion in practice …

  26. PlasticPaddy says

    Re il flipper–was pinball ever called flipper in English?

  27. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    For opening a closed entrance, a knot, a lock, etc., the activity really depends on how the thing is closed. For example, were Welsh doors (or windows) more like what I consider typical farm gates, so opening means you remove the bar in the middle and push/pull both flaps out/in from the middle?

  28. David Eddyshaw says

    I have always assumed that they were much like contemporary English doors, though I can’t say that I have ever given the matter much thought.

    It reminds me that my elder son, as a toddler in Ghana, went through a phase of calling doors “lids.” I mean, yes, once it’s been pointed out, you can see that they are, fundamentally, the same thing …

  29. John Cowan says

    This is also true in Lojban. A vorme is a ‘doorway, gateway, access way’ that permits or prevents access from one point to another, typically but not necessarily within a structure. The word vrogai ‘door, gate’ is a compound of vorme with gacri ‘cover, lid, top’. (There is a separate form for the lid of a container: see this comment for the ontology of Lojban containers.)

  30. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @PlasticPaddy:

    Re il flipper–was pinball ever called flipper in English?

    Probably not: Wikipedia at least suggests that “The flippers have loaned pinball its common name in many languages, where the game is known mainly as flipper.”

    However, on the Corriere webpage il flipper didn’t simply mean the pinball machine, but rather something a football player does in a video I didn’t watch.

    You’re still substantively right, though. What happens in that video may well be something no native English speaker would call a flipper. I’m afraid my knowledge of football jargon in either language is minimal.

  31. J.W. Brewer says

    Il Flipper, in some specialized registers of idiomatic American English (skip the first 45 seconds if you want to get to the actual action): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3nCB-GtuzA

  32. However, on the Corriere webpage il flipper didn’t simply mean the pinball machine, but rather something a football player does in a video I didn’t watch.

    I thought it might be a mistaken form of the US soccer term “flopper”, for which the British equivalent is “diver”, but no. Corriere’s flipper video shows Robert Lewandowski heading the ball repeatedly against a wall. The comment is “L’effetto è stato simile a un flipper, visto che Lewandowski ha colpito il pallone a una velocità senza precedenti.” It’s just pinball as a bespoke comparison, not an established calcio metaphor.

  33. In English we have “Ever since I was a young boy/I’ve played the silver ball”; “flipper” looks like another part-for-the-whole expression.

  34. David Marjanović says

    But wait, don’t most Millennials think of the movie when they hear that phrase?

    Yes, but we’re about 40 years old now.

    awkwardly fascist

    Similarly, turning Homepage into Heimseite would be straightforward and would sound natural, but the first people to do so happened to be Nazis, and they immediately ruined it for everyone else. Homepage it is.

    guerra, surely the ultimate sign of submission to our Germanic overlords

    Rather, I consider it praise of pax romana that the whole concept of war, together with the word bellum, was evidently forgotten.

    Star Wars. I grew up with Guerre Stellari

    That’s at least a translation! We had to make do with Krieg der Sterne – “war of the stars”. It’s true there’s only one war in the original movie, but the parties aren’t segregated to separate stars, they’re both almost everywhere…

  35. PlasticPaddy says

    @dm
    There seem to be a number of Heimatseiten around, without any klear völkisch konnektion…

  36. David Marjanović says

    …Yes, “about 64,800”. But that is considerably less straightforward than Heimseite; I’d have thought it means “page/site about someone’s geographic home”, and for a few of the top results that’s actually the case.

  37. @David Eddyshaw: “It reminds me that my elder son, as a toddler in Ghana, went through a phase of calling doors “lids.””

    @John Cowan: ” A vorme is a ‘doorway, gateway, access way’ that permits or prevents access from one point to another, typically but not necessarily within a structure. The word vrogai ‘door, gate’ is a compound of vorme with gacri ‘cover, lid, top’.”

    Vladimir Dahl notes in his Russian dictionary that opening a window takes a different verb than opening a door: открыть окно, отворить дверь. Etymologically, открыть is to uncover. Roughly speaking, a window is a hole in a wall: to open it is to remove its (vertical) lid. But a door is itself a lid so a different verb is required (unless one means a doorway). A few decades later (Dahl’s dictionary was published in the early 1860s), this distinction started disappearing. Открыть simply replaced отворить. Like English, Russian now has the same verb in “open the chest,” “open the lid,” “open the door,” and “open the window.”

  38. Finglese? Vacanze di Natale as incisive social commentary? Italian lacks synonyms? Wow. That’s so bad that I’m suddenly feeling much more sympathetic towards the author of a NYT article I read this morning, which describes a Catholic guy from Veneto as peppering his speech in both English and Italian with “Yiddish expressions” like “oy-yoy-yoy.” (Ohi ohi can be startling to Americans on first hearing, and I guess the exclamations are cognate, but I strongly, strongly suspect that the Yiddish stopped there.)

  39. John Cowan says

    Finglese?

    I keep reading this as Fingalese, perhaps the pseudo-Gaelicized English prose of James Macpherson’s epic poems Fingal, Temora, and The Works of Ossian.

    From WP s.v. “James Macpherson”:

    In 1760, Macpherson visited North Uist and met with John MacCodrum, the official Bard to the Chief of Clan MacDonald of Sleat. As a result of their encounter, MacCodrum made, according to John Lorne Campbell, “a brief appearance in the Ossianic controversy which is not without it’s humorous side.” When Macpherson met MacCodrum, he asked, “A bheil dad agaibh air an Fheinne?” Macpherson believed himself to have asked, “Do you know anything of the Fianna?” He had actually said, however, “Do the Fianna owe you anything?”

    In reply, MacCodrum quipped, “Cha n-eil agus ge do bhiodh cha ruiginn a leas iarraidh a nis”, or in English, “No, and if they did it would be useless to ask for it now.” According to Campbell, this, “dialogue… illustrates at once Macpherson’s imperfect Gaelic and MacCodrum’s quickness of reply.”

  40. James Macpherson’s epic poem Fingal

    Whence the ur–dog barking in the night.

  41. @Biscia: While I, in my normal life, associate the expression ai-yai-yai (however spelled or variably pronounced) with Yiddish-influenced speech, that is not the role it plays in the one film I know of in which it features very prominently. The deuteragonist in the South-African-Botswanan film The Gods Must Be Crazy uses is regularly; however, it does not appear to identify him as Jewish, but rather Afrikaner.

  42. @Brett: In my experience it’s extremely common in Italian, which is why I was nonplussed that the Rome correspondent for the NYT would think the guy was using Yiddish. The Wikipedia article on “oy vey” mentions Germanic roots and “heu” as the Latin equivalent (which is where “ohi” would seem to come from). That sounds a bit more likely to me than the alternative theory it cites, linking it to Hebrew. But if anyone knows more, I’m very curious.

  43. Ay ay ay is Spanish

  44. I guess there can be a distinctively Yiddish way of using it (intonation etc.)

    Russian ay-yay-yay is children talk (expression of disapproval by adults).

  45. Stu Clayton says

    Oy vey fugaces, bubbala, bubbala, labuntur anni

    It has something !

    Edit: I just read the sad news that Shelley Berman died five years ago, in 2017.

  46. David Eddyshaw says

    Oi originated in Kusaal (naturally.) “Alas, woe”, says Naden’s dictionary.

    Oi, m biiga! Fʋ kɛya ka m sʋnf wʋsa san’am!
    “Alas, my child! You have made me utterly miserable!” (Judges 11:35)

    Another one for Pierre Bancel …

    https://languagehat.com/trask-on-mama-and-papa/#comment-2089649

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