The other day, tiresomely, someone hacked the Twitter account of the National Football League and tweeted that Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, was dead. The tweet was deleted. Then the perpetrator sent out another tweet:
Oi, I said Roger Goodell has died. Don’t delete that tweet.
If the NFL has a forensic team working on the case, I would advise them to concentrate their efforts in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa, because that, according to Wikipedia, is where people say “oi.”
According to the OED, the word originated as the naval interjection “hoy!” (related to “ahoy”). “Oi” was originally associated with Cockney argot, and the first OED citation is a bit of dialect from the Evening Standard in 1937: “Oi, there’s a lidy ‘ere wants some juice on the knocker!” The same year, it appeared in the lyrics to the song “Doing the Lambeth Walk,” from “Me and My Girl,” a musical about a Cockney barrow boy who inherits an earldom:
Once you get down Lambeth way
Every evening, every day,
You’ll find yourself
Doing the Lambeth Walk. oi!
Since then it has provided the name to a British punk-rock subgenre and more generally gone mainstream. You can hear it shouted in streets and sporting events of Commonwealth countries, especially Australia, where “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” is a popular chant. But you don’t hear it in the U.S.
So get on it, NFL security. Your work is cut out for you.