28

Recently, and for me beginning with the series Brooklyn 99, I have been hearing "noice" used for what I guess is an extreme "nice".

I was assuming this was just a mocking of Brooklynese (e.g. "toity toid 'n toid") , but now I see it sprouting up in other internet locations.

One source claims it comes from Australia.

Noice, or nice pronounced with an exaggerated Australian accent, is a synonym for awesome. This spelling is helpful for internet users to convey the pronunciation in text.

So, does it derive from the Aussie, or Brooklyn accent?

1
6

It came from multiple dialects in multiple periods, not any single one. I've personally heard it since the 90s in various UK English (West Country, Northern, Lahndan, et al), Irish dialects, and Brooklyn via TV. It started out as a straight-up regional pronunciation, the trend of saying it in an affected way is way more recent.

Some of many precursors:

0
26

From M-W - Where did noice come from?

One of the many ways in which dialects of English differ around the world is in the pronunciation of vowels. In standard American and British English, the long i vowel in words like shine, tide, or size is a diphthong—linguistics jargon for two vowel sounds joined in one syllable to form one speech sound—that is pronounced with the lips unrounded.

However, in some varieties of Australian English and New York English and in some dialects—such as Cockney English—the long i vowel begins with the lips rounded, in a position more similar to the vowel in words like short or lawn. Thus, the long i diphthong in these dialects sounds much like the diphthong in words like coin or joy.

The slangy noice originated out of such dialectal pronunciation for nice.

7
  • 28
    In my experience, here in Australia "noice" is only a slang pronunciation, I've never met anybody who pronounces "nice" like that in a serious context. The slang pronunciation is deliberately exaggerated. – nnnnnn Apr 19 '20 at 21:24
  • 3
    @nnnnn I agree that a full-on "noice" is a very exaggerated pronunciation, but this answer's mention of "lips rounded" made me practice with rounded lips but trying to say "nice" normally. And the result does indeed sound like a broader Australian accent than mine. – Tim Pederick Apr 21 '20 at 5:43
  • 4
    @nnnnnn I don't know in which part of Australia you are, but having spent many days in regional Australia, "noice" is very common. – Gimelist Apr 21 '20 at 10:50
  • 1
    I wouldn't be surprised to hear "noice" in a broad East Anglian accent. "Yep, 'a's noice, 'at aas". – Tom Anderson Apr 21 '20 at 13:17
  • 3
    @nnnnnn it's not limited to noice. The accent is very distinguishable in words like noit (night) loit (light) noin (nine) etc etc. The fact that city-dwellers exaggerate it doesn't mean it's not a very characteristic and real thing accent of regional Australia – Gimelist Apr 21 '20 at 22:43
10

From my comments:

Where did noice come from?

One of the many ways in which dialects of English differ around the world is in the pronunciation of vowels. In standard American and British English, the long i vowel in words like shine, tide, or size is a diphthong—linguistics jargon for two vowel sounds joined in one syllable to form one speech sound—that is pronounced with the lips unrounded. However, in some varieties of Australian English and New York English and in some dialects—such as Cockney English—the long i vowel begins with the lips rounded, in a position more similar to the vowel in words like short or lawn. Thus, the long i diphthong in these dialects sounds much like the diphthong in words like coin or joy. The slangy noice originated out of such dialectal pronunciation for nice. - Merriam Webster


Noice (adj): /nɔɪs/

(Comparative: noicer, superlative: noicest)

(eye dialect, slang or humorous) nice


(It could be a blend of 'not' and 'nice' though that's not what it's used for.)

I have quite a few American friends and most of them use 'noice' a lot. I asked one of them who lives in the Midwest and they said:

Noice is like. . . a humorous way to say nice, but it always means "very nice," or "I'm impressed." It's New Jersey accent. It's how they speak. Maybe watch a movie with many boston or New Jersey accents like The Town. Rocky movies are close. they're new york accents (old New York).


oy is /oɪ/ in Australian, and /ɔɪ/ in RP.

So. The Australian pronunciation of why is /wɑɪ/, which is further back than RP /waɪ/. To RP ears, the closest diphthong is woy, /wɔɪ/.

But to Australian ears, why /ɑɪ/ and woy /woɪ/ are plenty different. So when they read “Woy it’s called Woy Woy Oy will never know”, they don’t think /ɑɪ/. They think /oɪ/. And Irish /ɔɪ/ is indeed closer to Australian woy than Australian why.

So you English are hearing a slight backing of the /a/ to /ɑ/ in Australian, and you’re mistaking it for the somewhat more drastic backing in Irish. And we Australians have no fricking idea what you’re talking about.

Oh the question was, why did it happen? Why does anything happen?

After the Great English Vowel Shift, long i was /əɪ/, similar to the value it has in Canadian English. Diphthongs can either narrow or widen. A narrowed diphthong has less difference between its first and second vowel: it is easier to pronounce (and the endpoint of narrowing is monophthongisation: it turning into a single vowel.) A widened diphthong has more difference between its first and second vowel: it is easier to understand, being more distinctive as a sound.

The development of Early Modern English /əɪ/ to RP /aɪ/ is a widening. The development of RP /aɪ/ to Australian and Irish /ɑi/ is more of a widening; and the development to Irish /ɔɪ/ is even more of a widening. Contrary to the stereotype of mumbled Australian English, keeping their mouths closed so that flies wouldn’t get in, in this instance Australian English is making more of an articulatory effort than RP, to make the long i sound more distinctive. (Quora)

4
  • 6
    Uh, it's not a New York accent, it's a New Yowk accent! – Hot Licks Apr 19 '20 at 22:50
  • 6
    Example of New York accent (which Burrow I know not): Toidy poiple boids was sittin' onna coib, choiping and boiping and eatin' doity woims and boid seed. And when Moitle and Floyd saw dese toidy poiple boids sittin' onna coib, choiping and boiping and eatin' doity woims and boid seed, my! dey was petoibed. – Elliot Apr 20 '20 at 2:38
  • 3
    Also: A poithon could devewop a cowd (Guys'n'dolls). – Will Crawford Apr 20 '20 at 13:33
  • 1
    Oddly enough, though "third" is pronounced "toid" and "bird" is pronounced "boid", "oil" is pronounced "erl"! – user247327 Apr 20 '20 at 14:24
7

I grew up in Australia then moved to Brooklyn ~3 years ago. I've heard "noice" repeatedly in Australia, but can't ever recall hearing it in Brooklyn.

As others have suggested, it's a facetious and emphatic way of saying "nice".

The "oi" phoneme seems generally more prevalent in Australian English, including people saying "oi" itself when Americans might say "hey!"; as a way of grabbing the attention of another person or an animal.

1

It's possible that it's actual origin is internet typos. O and I are adjacent on most keyboards, so very easy to type noice by hitting both keys at once while trying to type 'nice.' Much like saying "lawl" (pronouncing LOL) to suggest that something is funny (instead of actually laughing) has become more common, many words that primarily originated in TXT and forums make their way into common vernacular.

EDIT: Doing further digging, I think I may have invalidated my own answer. Now a sample of 1 isn't quite enough data points, but I did find a Lady's Magazine from the 1800s that used Noice, and elsewhere used "ax" instead of ask, so seemed to be trying to spell out the accents.

(Enter a cracker, his wife and daughter.) 'Who's the tapster here ?' 'I am, sir.' 'Have you any noice truck here for shirts ?' 'Yes sir, walk in, there's a nice piece.' 'What do you ax ?'

Further in, 'noice' is used several more times by the 'cracker' and 'foin' is also used which from context is likely intended to mean fine.

1
  • 2
    No, it predates the internet. By centuries. – smci Apr 21 '20 at 10:04
1

If you Google "noice" one of Google's suggested questions is "Who is the guy that says noice?", the answer being Michael Rosen.

According to Wikipedia, Rosen was born in Harrow, London. Listening to him speak, he sounds a bit cockney.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.