How is the word `hoi polloi’ pronounced?

The `oi’ in the two words is pronounced like the `oi’ in `oil’, `boil’, and `toil’. The `o’ in the first syllable of `polloi’ is like the `a’ in `china’. Both `hoi’ and `loi’ are stressed. In Greek `hoi’ means `the’ and `polloi’ means `many’. The term is normally used to refer to the common people — the working class. We are not thinking of the rich, or the highly educated class when we talk about the hoi polloi. Some people find this term offensive. Since the word `hoi’ means `the’, people who have studied Greek argue that we shouldn’t say `the hoi polloi’. But `the hoi polloi’ has become firmly established in English.

*The entry fee was kept very high to keep the hoi polloi out.

Source: S. Upendran, The Hindu ‘Know Your English’ Series, February 27, 2006


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s