Ay! they say. Ay is the Spanish for oi, or woe and usually is a cry of dismay or just surprise. When it changes to Uy! it denotes more astonishment or perhaps even horror, or, more often, delight—I sometimes wonder if Uy isn’t the product of popular culture, it always, for me, conveys some kind of exaggeration. The curious variation here is Uish, or Uysh. This one is very dry, like incredulity or perhaps even disgust mingled in with the amazement. We say it all the time. e. g. Americans eat hamburgers and french fries and many sweet foods all the time which is why they are so fat. Uish!
Curious thing: my students have a hard time pronouncing the English SH sound and it is all mental because they use it all the time when they say Uish! When speaking English they give a dry, CH sound, and incidentally have problems with the voiced CH = J in English, but often the sound of a G as in genes.
That brings me to something really annoying. In Colombia they have long been enamored of the USA and English names. They have hamburgers and hot dogs all over the place because that’s all they eat in the USA—they have all visited Orlando, FL and know. My friends, growing up, were Douglas and Erwin: not Spanish names. The head high general of the land is named Freddy Padilla (and I wonder how long it takes American generals to realize he really is called Freddy and that’s his name, diminutive and all. It is a bit of a nightmare name when you consider how adept at making the double L sound in Spanish American generals probably are). So they are enamored, as the name of the head high general shows; and we have Williams and Wilmars and Jhony (honest [I get a kick out of teaching my students outdated expressions, but sometimes it rubs off], that’s the name of the guy who rented me this apartment: an ignorant variation on Johnny). Here is the irritating part: it is starting to corrupt their pronunciation of certain names starting with J, and worst of all mine. They can’t seem to think their way, anymore, to putting on my name in Spanish the velar fricative of Juan, or Xavier (nowadays spelled Javier). They have this hybrid (read: bastard—funny thing about translating movies: every curse in English ends up translated as maldito bastardo, which in Spanish is really lame; they love to make fun of that here) pronunciation that is neither Spanish nor English with the two vowels my name has in Spanish, and the attempt at that most inglorious of all English sounds: the English J.