Why do court bailiffs say “oyez, oyez” sometimes?

A STAFF REPORT FROM THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Dear Straight Dope:

Regarding your recent response to "Here, here" (Hear, hear), why do I sometimes see it in writing as "Oyez, oyez"?

Terey replies:

You probably always thought. it was “oh yes, oh yes.” Silly creature. Here’s what my dictionary says:

1. “hear!” “attend!”, uttered my court officers, and formerly by public criers, to command silence before a proclamation.

[1375-1425; late Middle English < Anglo-French, plural imperative of oyer, to hear, Old French oir, < Latin audire.

So there you go. It’s another way of saying “hear ye.”

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.

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