Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!

Last night I saw this tweet:

suebob: @QueenofSpain Is it “Here, here” or “Hear hear”? I really don’t know and have always wondered.

I knew right off. One of my favorite things about having visited the Supreme Court was hearing that every session of the Court starts with this preamble:

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!

I’m not sure how I make the link between oyez and hear — but I do. As to the language above, I really love it. I have a love of archaic language and formal presentation. I’m famous to Leah and my stepkids for having announced to Leah that I wanted to date her by saying “I find you charming and would like to see you socially.” To the question of “who talks like this? The answer is me.

Hear hear! is like “oyez oyez” — and I love the word oyez:

WORD HISTORY: The courtroom cry “Oyez, oyez, oyez,” has probably puzzled more than one auditor, especially if pronounced “O yes.” (Many people have thought that the words were in fact O yes.) This cry serves to remind us that up until the 18th century, speaking English in a British court of law was not required and one could instead use Law French, a form of French that evolved after the Norman Conquest, when Anglo-Norman became the language of the official class in England. Oyez descends from the Anglo-Norman oyez, the plural imperative form of oyer, “to hear”; thus oyez means “hear ye” and was used as a call for silence and attention. Although it would have been much heard in Medieval England, it is first recorded as an English word fairly late in the Middle English period, in a work composed around 1425.

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