Yon is a student at USC who I am close friends with. He is originally from Israel, and this is his first year in America. He speaks with a thick Israeli accent, and jumped at the opportunity to share his culture’s folklore with me.


Performance: While I was interviewing Yon, he dropped his keys and exclaimed “Oppa!” casually as he picked them back up. What is that? I asked. “Oppa is the word when we say it… whenever something doesn’t like go…as planned. its like Oppa! Oppa! Oppa! It’s like woooah.”

Is it like happy..? Or like…?

“It’s not negative…But its not happy. It’s like something you say when you’re startled. You say Oppa. Oppa.”


Response: This piece of folk speech came naturally in conversation while I was interviewing Yon. He dropped his keys and said “oppa” under his breath. I asked him what that was and he didn’t understand what I was referring to, but lit up when he realized he was explaining his own little swear. Oppa has no definition that is set in stone in Hebrew, and it more of a folk exclamation similar to whoops.