According to Rabbi Ken Spiro's
Crash Course on Jewish History, this Crusader cry
was originally derived as an acronym of a Latin phrase meaning
Jerusalem Has Fallen; what 3-letter cheer is
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Hep (or Hip)
As in Hip, Hip,
According to Spiro,
"the Crusader cry of Hep! Hep! originated at this time. It was an acronym for
the Latin of Jerusalem Has Fallen. With time it became Hip, Hip, Hooray! - a
cheer that Jews never use."
HOWEVER: According to
Merriam-Webster, the origin of the hip in
hip,hip hooray is unknown - and its first use
in print is in 1827. Further, it is unlikely that the word
hip was derived from hep, because the latter first appeared in print in
I wasn't able to find a Latin
translation of: Jerusalem Has Fallen. If anyone
knows it or can do it, please send it to me and I'll pass it onto the list.
Can't vouch for my verb endings (rusty Latin) But
'Hierosolyma est perditus' is approx. translation of 'Jerusalem has fallen'
Okay so I
had learned that "hip" was inappropriate for Jews because of this origin, and
that it stood for "Hierusalem est perdita." Also I later read somewhere that
the "hooray" comes from "hul raj," and I didn't remember what that supposedly
meant. I did a Google search of "hip hip hooray perdida OR perdita" and I got
some interesting hits. Evidently it's not true. Try looking at
http://www.takeourword.com/TOW130/page2.html or just do the same or a similar
search yourself. Thanks for such a great service!
This makes sense: the Latin for it was Jerusalem
est perdita, but there was no "J" sound then. In Hebrew, it's a "Y" sound,
hence Yerushalayim; no J or even much of a Y in Latin, so an aspirated H. But
the "est perdita" gives the EP of HEP.
Even with the qualification from Websters, I can't
believe you gave this story even the credence you did. The Latin phrase that is
probably behind this story is something like "Hierosolym est perdomitum." But
the acronym etymology is unquestionably spurious. First of all, if it really
did come from the crusades, we would expect to see it show up in the written
record much earlier, and exist in other languages than English, since the
crusaders were a pan-European bunch. Second, acronyms aren't really a plausible
form of word formation for crusaders, since it presumes a highly literate group
that thought in Latin. (Acronyms, of course, only make sense if you know how to
write the words out and are looking at them as individual letters, not as units
of sound.) As a general rule of thumb (another frequently mis-etymologized
phrase) virtually every so-called etymology that claims an acronymic origin for
words coined before World War II is false.
Wouldn't the Latin be "Hierosolyma perdita est?"
And HPE isn't really pronounceable. I do know for a fact, however, that several
European languages use "HEP" as a cry to herd animals (like "Git!") So if
you're trying to force someone along the street, "HEP! HEP!" might be the
"and exist in other languages than English" - The expression DOES exist in
other languages, at least in the Scandinavian languages and German. "since it
presumes a highly literate group that thought in Latin."
Crusaders were a literate bunch, the knowledge of
reading and writing was not all that uncommon in the middle ages, and the
crusaders were often the elite of society, definitely able to read and write
latin. Acronyms is quite common in mediaeval texts, as are other forms of
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