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I am wondering if there is a word in German that is meant to get attention, like from across the road or even the dining table, like hey or oi and what it would be.

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  • Traditional/obsolete: "He!/Heda!" Contemporary: "Ey!/Hey!" (Like everywhere else, the influence of English is palpable.) – Kilian Foth Nov 4 '15 at 7:21
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    @KilianFoth [citation needed] – Jan Nov 4 '15 at 9:18
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The usual word for that is he (often with a lengthened e and then spelt hee, heee, heeeeee or similar):

He, kannst du mir sagen, wie spät es ist?
Heee, was machen Sie denn da?

There are also huhu and ey. Ey is often used when addressing someone who may be misbehaving, whereas huhu is normally reserved for positive contexts such as when helping a friend who is looking for you in a larger crowd:

Huhu, wir sind hier drüben!
Ey, was soll das? Das ist mein Fahrrad!

Apart from these interjections, there are, of course, many other phrases that can be used to get someone’s attention, such as greetings or various forms of “excuse me”:

Hallo! Haaallo! Guten Tag!
Entschuldigung!/’tschuldigung!/Entschuldigen Sie bitte!
Verzeihung!

They are usually considered more polite than in particular he.

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    I think sometimes "Ähm" is also used, especially when you stand behind someone so that they can't see you. Often combined with "Entschuldigung", but sometimes just like "Ähm, könnten sie mich bitte kurz vorbeilassen". – Em1 Nov 4 '15 at 8:13
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    There's also the more aggresive "Ähem", while "Ähm" is used defensively; like saying "Ähm, was machst du hier?" when you're suprised, and "Ähem, was machst du hier?" when your toddler should already be in bed. – sloth Nov 4 '15 at 8:41
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    I agree with everything, but must add, that »Huhu« is rarely used in Austria. When ever I heard this in Austria, is was a person from Germany who said it. And I want to add something else: »He« is in Austria used as described above, but in Viennese dialect it is also the name for the police: »Schleich di, sonst ruaf i di He!« = »Verschwinde, sonst rufe ich die Polizei!« – Hubert Schölnast Nov 4 '15 at 8:41
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    "Ey!" is considered very, very impolite in some areas - it might be easily understood as an expression of alarmed surprise (see example above) or even as an attempt to start a fight, depending somewhat on tone of voice. – rackandboneman Nov 4 '15 at 11:43
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Here in Switzerland, if we’re addressing someone directly we’ll say Du with the person’s name afterwards:

Du, Claudia – kannst du die Tür schließen?

Not sure if this applies everywhere – Swiss German is a bit more relaxed than High German.

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    Not restricted to Switzerland I'd say - and certainly a more polite alternative to "he". – Takkat Nov 4 '15 at 11:27
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    In most german speaking areas, this would be considered a regular use of the "Du" form of address, and all the rules about "Du"/"Sie" would apply; using it where "Du" would be inappropriate or offensive in other contexts would also be inappropriate or offensive in that context. – rackandboneman Nov 4 '15 at 11:36
  • On an unrelated note: Welcome to German Language Stack Exchange. Feel free to take a tour of the site. For any questions on how it works, consult the help center. – Jan Nov 4 '15 at 12:15
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    I think the same is true in English. When you say "Du, Claudia ...", in English you would say "Claudia, can you please ..". In situations where "hey" is ok, "he" is ok too in German, afaik. Same in Dutch, btw. – Christine Nov 4 '15 at 18:49

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