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Posted by ESC on February 23, 2004

In Reply to: Hoo-ah! posted by Smokey Stover on February 22, 2004

: : : : Has it occurred to anyone else that the American service personnel's "Hoo-ah!" may be a corruption of the English shout, "Hear, Hear," meaning roughly, "Listen to what the man is saying," and is pronounced "Hee-ah, Hee-ah" in parliament.

: : : Not me. It sounds more like a corruption (!) of "Hoo-ee!" American popular speech is full of interjections (or ejaculations?) which are not contingent on any actual words, but sound more like the directions you might give, say, to a team of horses. Yee-hah! Doesn't that sound like something a teamster would say, a bit like an alternative to Giddy-ap? Then there's "Whoa," very popular nowadays, not to be confused with "Whoo-ee," similar to but not the same as "Whoopee." I once had a neighbor who called his pigs with something like "Hoo-ee" (but not quite--the exact expression is still used only for calling pigs). SS

: : My own suspicion is that many of our traditional
: : "ejaculations" are less spontaneous and "natual" than we think, and are, in fact, corruptions from earlier (and much more literate) times. FD

: You may well be right about some interjections (besides the usual "Minced oaths") having their origin in one or more actual words. I have become more aware of interjections since my family got a new TV, with closed captions. I use this a lot, since I have some hearing loss, and the captioners try to capture everything. It's one thing to hear the monster growl, another to see a caption saying "Arrrgh". I've seen a lot of occurrences of "Whoo!" that I would scarcely have noticed were it not for the captions. I don't know if you have ever turned on the captioning (assuming you have TV), but it shows you a vast wasteland of mangled English for various reasons related to the difficulty of keeping up. SS

WOOOOO!! - "The exclamation pierces any gathering where young people are getting excited.But where did it come from? Why has it replaced everything from 'hooray' to 'right on'? Experts in linguistics and culture offer guesses about the woo's origin, but nothing firm. Maybe woo is a spin on the verb 'to woo,' meaning to attempt to attract or solicit. Perhaps it's just a syllable that is easy to project loudly, less harsh on the throat than an all-out scream." Or maybe it originated from "The Arsenio Hall Show" or "The Simpsons," TV shows that both premiered in 1989. From "It's the shout heard round the world.but where did it come from? Wooooooooooo!" by Michele M. Melendez, Newhouse News Service, Dec. 6, 2002, The Courier Journal, Louisville (Ky.)

Back to American soldiers: I'd still like to know what they were saying in "Black Hawk Down." It was sort of a battle cry/sound of encouragement.