Redditors debate Voi name pronunciation with amusing results

An innocent question about how to pronounce the name of Bristol’s rentable e-scooters has caused a heated debate online. The Voi electric scooters – a common sight on the city’s streets since 2020 – divide opinion, with some seeing them as a green transport alternative to cars and others branding them a menace to pedestrians.

But one thing everyone can surely agree on is what they are called, right? Wrong – there are in fact several theories among both the vehicles’ fans and detractors. This much was revealed when Reddit user cinnamonbanana took to the r/Bristol forum to ask: “Is it Voi like voyage or Voi like voila?”

The question prompted 52 replies, with commenters piling in on both sides of the argument. “My friend swore by these things for like two weeks, months ago,” wrote MajorasLapdog. “At the time, he kept calling himself a ‘voi boi’ so I’ve just always assumed it was the former.”

Read more: We tried the new generation of Voi e-scooters

User singeblanc was thinking along the same lines. “I always call myself a member of the ‘voi palloi’,” they quipped, chalking up another vote for team voi-as-in-voyage.

Asheonic, who is clearly not a fan of the transports, opined that it was “voi, like avoid me when I pull in front of you”. Meanwhile, DineAndDance – apparently another scooter sceptic – added one vote for Voi as in “voi you, get out of my way”.

Khalarin also put their money on this option, chipping in: “The way I see people using them around here is more like ‘the last Voi-age’ or the ‘Voi-age to the bottom of the sea/river’.”

But there were also supporters of the alternative pronunciation, citing the word’s likely origins in one of the romance languages. “I had it down as ‘vwa’, as a French speaker,” wrote Bfreak, pointing out that “voie (pronounced vwa) means way, or path.”

A few contributors to the debate chose chaos. “Neither,” wrote tototomoto, “it’s voh-ih.” And discipleofdoom pointed out that voi is also the Finnish word for butter, for which they were branded a “perkele ” (meaning devil).

Fortunately, amidst all the confusion, cinn83 came to the rescue with an official video from Voi advertising its online traffic school. In the one-minute clip, a godlike floating narrator makes repeated use of the word Voi – pronouncing it to rhyme with boy, toy, joy and soy.

And yet, stoking the fires of online controversy, the digital deity goes on to introduce the firm’s online learning platform Voila – which anyone in their right mind would pronounce like the French word meaning “there it is” – by rhyming it with oiler, boiler or spoiler.

It’s almost as though the Swedish e-scooter company wants to promote controversy. And with their battery-powered transports available in almost a dozen countries to date, the online chatter can’t be bad for business.

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