One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(chiefly among Chinese speakers) used to express dismay, exasperation, or surprise.‘aiyah, you mustn't work so hard; you must find time for other things’
From Chinese ( Cantonese or Mandarin dialect): imitative.
Chiefly in Chinese contexts: used to express dismay, exasperation, surprise, etc.
1920s; earliest use found in The New York Times Book Review. From Chinese (Cantonese) āai ā, aiya or its Mandarin equivalent āiyā, aiya, of imitative origin.
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