My First Academic Post of the Year (DO NOT READ: NERDY!!!)

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Robert Schunk, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    104
    I recently looked at the Wikipedia article on the hippie movement of the 1960's and 1970's (which I've earlier pointed out actually began in Germany in 1896! (

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    ) ), which had this to say about the origin of the term "hippie" itself (@ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippie ):

    "The word hippie came from hipster and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie was first popularized in San Francisco by Herb Caen who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. The origins of the terms hip and hep are uncertain, although by the 1940s both had become part of African American jive slang and meant "sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date".[1][2][3] The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and countercultural values of the Beat Generation."

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    The origin of the terms hip and hep are uncertain? Not to those of us who are initiated into the wide and wild world of Yiddish! As I've pointed out before, Yiddish is based upon a Palatine German dialect, and obeys many of the rules of that dialect, and has adopted rules of her own since separation. One of the rules of Palatine German inherited by Yiddish is the lack of non-redundant vowel rounding. One new rule of Standard High German is the elision of a vowel in the suffix appended to a certain word.

    What all of this means is that the Standard High German word "hübsch", meaning "stylish", is pronounced in Yiddish as "hippisch" (I believe in the NYC dialect) or "heppesch" (I believe in the European dialects). (Recall my having earlier told you that NYC Yiddish is more similar to Standard High German and to American English than to the European dialects of Yiddish.)

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    How about that! You may now address me as: "Your Highfalutin' Nerdiness"!

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    And, now, let us conclude with a nice song:



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  3. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    My recollection: hep was the term to describe jazz fans before bop, while hip was used for bop fans, hep being dated.
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There are several suggested etymologies for the slang word "hep," which morphed into "hip" in the rock'n'roll era. In addition to yours, various authorities at the time that "hep" became popular suggest:
    • The name of a fabulous detective who operated in Cincinnati.
    • The name of a saloonkeeper in Chicago who never quite understood what was going on but thought he did.
    • Acronym for Latin Hierosolyma Est Perdita ("Jerusalem is lost"), said to have been emblazoned on the banners of medieval recruiters for the Crusades, who drew mobs that subsequently turned on local Jewish populations.
    The third suggestion is so remarkable as to cast doubt on the whole list. While Jews were hardly beloved in medieval Europe, there was very little violence against them, at least by the standards of a world that (hopefully) will never forget the Holocaust. Indeed the Crusaders ignored Jewish villages in the Holy Land in order to concentrate on the hated Muslims--although since they couldn't tell the two Semitic peoples apart, there were a few instances of Jews being killed by mistake and no one feeling terribly sorry about it. But more to the point, let us remember that literacy was only for the rulers, scholars and priests in the era before the printing press was invented, resulting in a veritable explosion of written material. The average citizen could not read, so he could not understand what "HEP" meant, any more than he could have interpreted the surely-also-aprocryphal acronym "FUCK" as "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge."

    This reminds me of my search for the etymology of "OK." In this case, the word/acronym/exclamation/whatever has several scholarly explanations, all of which ring true. The utterance actually arose independently in several different populations, with meanings that were similar enough to merge into one.

    The same may be true of the various suggested sources of "hep/hip."

    In any case, I enjoyed one source's note: When "hep" became "hip," anyone who said he was "hep" was automatically NOT!
     
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  7. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    That sounds likely, as zoot-suiters in the 1940's called themselves hepcats.
     
  8. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    I agree with you about the third one being unlikely, and the first two seem a little obscure and localized to have generated a word used nationally. An origin in Harlem (for which I've no evidence one way or the other) would seem more logical.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I'm still looking. Some linguists find the Wolof word hepicat, "one whose eyes are open" as an obvious origin for "hep cat." But other authorities find no evidence that this etymology was recorded earlier than the 1960s, and in fact the phrase "to cry Wolof" is now a little linguist's joke for an etymology suspected to be based on superficial similarities with little or no documentation.

    This would certainly discredit the complicated etymology of "OK," which has been said to be a convergence of Scottish "och aye" (meaning roughly "oh yeah"), with the initials "O.K." for Old Kinderhook whiskey, and with a word in a Native American language, and, once again with a similar Wolof word since a large segment of the enslaved African population in the USA spoke Wolof. (And there are about five other convergent words/abbreviations with surprisingly similar meanings.)
     
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