Hear Ye, Hear Ye


What does Hear Ye, Hear Ye mean?

Hear ye, hear ye is a phrase associated with the town criers, an oblivious profession, whose job it was to inform the residents of settlements about the latest news, laws and measures.

It is used in modern day context on fairs, historical events and town crier contests, shouted by people donning the best garments of 18th century fashion; tricorne, breeches, as well as a coat and vest with eccentric colors.


What's the origin of Hear Ye, Hear Ye?

While “hear ye, hear ye” is mostly thought of as an archaic phrase, used by our ancestors, it was actually utilized in a different form; oyez which is the Anglo-Norman term for listen, its modern French equivalent being oyez or ouïr, which is largely replaced by écouter in everyday French.

The tradition of the town crier originates from 1066, when the majority of people was illiterate and the concept of newspapers was not yet conceived.

With the arrival of French nobility to England thanks to William the Conqueror, town criers started operating as the news press of the era.

An early documented record of “hear ye, hear ye” appears from the 16th century, written as “oh yay, oh yay” later emerging as “o yes, o yes”; both of these are modifications of the original French verb, oyez.

Spread & Usage

How did Hear Ye, Hear Ye spread?

With the colonizing spree of England, the notion of the town crier spread all across the globe, with town criers shouting “hear ye, hear ye” from the top of their lungs in all continents from Europe, to the Americas to Asia and Africa.

The phrase was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2015.

External resources

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