Has the use of "wallah" to mean "voila" spread to print, or is it strictly an internet phenomenon? I'm asking because I no longer live in an English-speaking country and don't have much occasion to observe current usage.
In my case, it took several years for the light bulb to go on and to realize that this was the dumbed-down version of "voila." I was familiar with the Anglo-Indian usage of this word and couldn't figure out why people were using it inappropriately. After questioning those who use it I've discovered that they have no idea that they really mean "voila," so it doesn't seem equivalent to writing "sez" instead of "says."
Lana
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Has the use of "wallah" to mean "voila" spread to print, or is it strictly an internet phenomenon? I'm asking ... they have no idea that they really mean "voila," so it doesn't seem equivalent to writing "sez" instead of "says."

As far as I know, a "wallah" is a person in authority. When you pull a penny out of a child's ear, you might say something that sounds like that (I don't have the slightest idea if there is a proper spelling), but it wouldn't be "wallah". Few children that are amazed about a suddenly appearing coin or a disappearing nose would sneer at the non-use of "Voila!"
I wouldn't fling "dumbed-down" around if it took me several years to figure out that whatever it is they're saying could be equivalent to "voila!".
How do you feel about "Presto!" when it is used as an exclamation to mean "I have just done something that appears to be magic."? Do you consider it inappropriate if the act wasn't done very quickly?
szozu wrote on 31 May 2004:
Has the use of "wallah" to mean "voila" spread to print, or is it strictly an internet phenomenon? I'm asking ... they have no idea that they really mean "voila," so it doesn't seem equivalent to writing "sez" instead of "says."

Oh, my goodness. Now you've done it. You've pointed out that which no native speaker of English wants to acknowledge: that English is being dumbed down in addition to undergoing the normal evolutionary changes to which all languages are subject.
I have to admit that when I first heard "Ding-dang, walla-walla bing- bang" 45 years ago, I never imagined that "walla-walla" was anything but a couple of nonsense syllables that also happened to be the name of a silly-sounding municipality in Washington state, USA. If people are now using "walla" for "voila", they must be desperately pretentious. Not surprising if they can't speak French.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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Has the use of "wallah" to mean "voila" spread to print, or is it strictly an internet phenomenon? I'm asking ... they have no idea that they really mean "voila," so it doesn't seem equivalent to writing "sez" instead of "says."

I've seen it in print, and I just thought it was a way of poking fun at the use of a borrowed word, not dumbing-down.

john
CyberCypher filted:
I have to admit that when I first heard "Ding-dang, walla-walla bing- bang" 45 years ago, I never imagined that ... If people are now using "walla" for "voila", they must be desperately pretentious. Not surprising if they can't speak French.

As Mr Cooper points out, "wallah" is also a word for a person in authority..

By the way, I heard a Chinese version of "The Witch Doctor" back in March and I've been listening in vain for a repeat playing...I wasn't recording and didn't have the levels set properly when it came on so I only have about a minute of the song, horribly overamped and clipped...any chance you could ask your students who recorded it?...(female lead singer, if that's any help)..r
I have to admit that when I first heard "Ding-dang, walla-walla bing- bang" 45 years ago, I never imagined that ... If people are now using "walla" for "voila", they must be desperately pretentious. Not surprising if they can't speak French.

I didn't and don't think that "walla walla" was anything but a nonsense phrase. And any connection with "voila" seems to be a stretch. For one thing, "walla" has the accent on the first syllable while "voila" (of any spelling) is accented on the second.
Here's the first verse and chorus of the song we've been talking about:

WITCH DOCTOR
DAVID SEVILLE
(Ross Bagdaserian, Jr) I told the witch doctor
I was in love with you
I told the witch doctor
I was in love with you
And then the witch doctor
He told me what to do
He said that
Ooo eee,ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla bing bang...
Ooo eee ,ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla ,bing bang
Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla bing bang
Note: We know a guy whose last name is Bagdaserian. He is called "Bags" by his male friends and co-workers. Just thought I'd mention that.

Maria Conlon
"Most of us die with our music still in us." (O. W. Holmes) (That has more than one meaning, doesn't it?)
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
szozu wrote on 31 May 2004:

Has the use of "wallah" to mean "voila" spread to ... it doesn't seem equivalent to writing "sez" instead of "says."

Oh, my goodness. Now you've done it. You've pointed out that which no native speaker of English wants to acknowledge: that English is being dumbed down in addition to undergoing the normal evolutionary changes to which all languages are subject.

"English is being dumbed down" is essentially an empty phrase, on the order of "French is Latin spoken by lazy speakers."
I have to admit that when I first heard "Ding-dang, walla-walla bing- bang" 45 years ago, I never imagined that ... surprising if they can't speak French. Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor. For email, replace numbers with English alphabet.

I have encountered the pronunciation "Walla!" for "VoilĂ !" before, and found it to be puzzling. Now, reading this thread, the light bulb went on: /vw/ is an unusual consonant combination in English, so that some English speakers find it difficult to say, just as some English speakers find it difficult to pronounce the /pn/ combination at the beginning of the French word "pneu" ( = "(pneumatic) tire" ) and the /sts/ combination at the beginning of the Esperanto word "scii" ( = "to know" ).

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Has the use of "wallah" to mean "voila" spread to ... it doesn't seem equivalent to writing "sez" instead of "says."

As far as I know, a "wallah" is a person in authority.

Can't say I've heard that one. In Anglo-Indian usage it just means 'fellow'. So the man who operated the fan was a punkah wallah, the guy who carried stuff on a yoke was a banghy wallah. A native of a particular city was a Delhi wallah or an Agra wallah or whatever. It went fro there to general slang usage in the UK - ambulance wallah, competition wallah, church wallah.
How do you feel about "Presto!" when it is used as an exclamation to mean "I have just done something that appears to be magic."? Do you consider it inappropriate if the act wasn't done very quickly?

Only ever heard 'Hey Presto' used at the climactic moment of a trick when something does happen quickly - the duck disappears, the card is discovered in the wallet, the lady vanishes...
But 'walla!' doesn't, AFAIK have any relation to the Hindu word. It is indeed a corruption of voila! based, I imagine, on hearing it pronounced by people who don't make a meal of the initial 'v'.

I'm not sure David Seville's 'Witch Doctor' song from the 50s had anything to do with either of these. Otherwise we'd have to consider there might be some significance in 'bing bang' and, indeed, in 'Ooh ee oo ah ah'.
Though there is a place in Pakistan called Walla.

John Dean
Oxford
As far as I know, a "wallah" is a person in authority.

Can't say I've heard that one. In Anglo-Indian usage it just means 'fellow'. So the man who operated the fan ... or whatever. It went fro there to general slang usage in the UK - ambulance wallah, competition wallah, church wallah.

My understanding of "wallah" was that is means someone in charge. It could be in charge of something as minor as fanning the pukka sahib, but in charge of something. I verified this understanding by checking and found:
http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=define%3A +

It's a word, though, that Americans don't use unless they are especially pretentious or want to use it in a mocking way. There are Americans that do say things like "Go see John. He's the wallah in charge of that." It's almost a sure bet that I would find such a person to be annoying in many other ways.
So, I may not be aware of the nuances, or even the BrE meaning of the word. I think, though, that most Americans would associate "wallah" with being in charge or having some kind of authority.
How do you feel about "Presto!" when it is used ... consider it inappropriate if the act wasn't done very quickly?

Only ever heard 'Hey Presto' used at the climactic moment of a trick when something does happen quickly - the duck disappears, the card is discovered in the wallet, the lady vanishes...

My usage is a bit more lax. After 20 minutes of making a complete mess of things, throwing out six failed attempts, and bringing in a fan to disburse the smoke, I might say "Presto! Waffles!".
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