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Re: Tally ho and a non-apocryphal tale.

Posted by TheFallen on March 08, 2002

In Reply to: Tally ho? posted by nita on March 08, 2002

: : : : as to the origin of "sally forth"? anyone?

: : : If you meant "sally port":

: : : Lifted verbatim from the Word Detective:

: : : "Sally ports" were a feature of castles and fortresses, a closely-guarded opening or door in the wall of a fortified building designed for the quick passage of troops. One of the primary uses of these doors was to mount quick attacks on whatever enemy army might be besieging the castle at the moment, and here's where we meet "sally." A "sally," from the Latin "salire" meaning "to jump," was originally a sudden rush out of a besieged position, a lightning attack designed to surprise the enemy. "Sally" in this original sense first appeared around 1560, and "sally port" is first found around 1649. "Sally" has since acquired the broader sense of "an excursion or escapade." And since castles and fortresses are in short supply these days, "sally port" has gradually come to mean any guarded doorway or opening.

: : ...which perfectly answers the original question. To sally forth is relatively commonly used, albeit usually when the speaker wants to be deliberately archaic.

: : Now's what's the origin of "Tally Ho"?

: Ah, thank goodness for the South where archaic phrasing still occurs. Sally forth and sally out are still used quite commonly, espically in Louisiana. I have sallied forth from many a banquette after receiving lagniappe.

: As to Tally Ho . . .
: Two hundred years ago, according to a magazine of that date, the English fox-hunter's cry was
: " Tallio, Hoix, Hark, Forward," which is a corruption of the French hunter's call. Four hundred years ago the French hunter encouraged his dogs with the musical cry of "Thia-hilaud a qui forheur!" sometimes printed "Tya-hillaut a qui forheur!" (These huntsmen's shouts are given in a quaint and rare old French book illustrated with the strange pictures of the day and entitled "La Venerie de Jacques du Fouilloux, a Paris 1573.") From this the English manufactured "Tallio, hoix, hark, forward." Later it has been abbreviated to simply "Tally-ho."

Hmmm, I am deeply cynical. I found that the above pasted explanation of the origins of "tally ho" (from was the only such reference on the web. Many many moons ago, I accidentally found myself studying French at University, including the tortuous mediaeval variety. Admittedly the Chanson De Roland is a tad tricky to translate, but by 1573, even allowing for the supposed hunting cry to be archaic by that stage, the language is pretty recognisable. Anyone with a good working knowledge of modern French would not have too great a trouble reading the plays of Corneille or Racine, for example, which were written a mere 80 or so years later. The word formations just look wrong, especially with "thia" or "tya".

As a complete side note, one of my Professors who had extreme privileged access to the Bodleian library, once asked to be allowed to study one of the very earliest copies of the Chanson De Roland. It dates from the 12 or 13th century, is hand-quilled onto vellum, and is normally stored under a high-security perspex case in the library, but since this was a published mediaeval history don asking to see it, they let him. The robust tweed-clad librarian of a certain age in the elite reading room looked up a few minutes later to see (with absolute horror) the crusty professor annotating the margins of the ancient tome with red ballpoint pen. She screamed and threw herself at him, preventing any more notation, whereupon security rushed in and dragged the errant sage out, kicking and screaming and protesting that he ought to be allowed to do this. Needless to say, his library privileges were rapidly and permanently revoked. Mind you, this was the same professor who once held an entire hour-long tutorial with me whilst lying supine on a shelf in a bookcase 4 feet up a wall, like an effigy on the tomb of a crusader, so perhaps the signs were there earlier for those to see.

The older English universities remain encouragingly bizarre
and on reflection, I hope they always do. It's character-forming :)