"Hip" in Football: Precursor to "Hut"?

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Fri Jan 14 23:15:27 UTC 2005

On Jan 14, 2005, at 5:28 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Hip" in Football: Precursor to "Hut"?
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> --------
> Naturally, I care.  Presumably before standardization, the call could
> be uttered as "Hup! Toop! Treep! Haw!"  Or so I once saw it in a
> fifties novel.
> "Your left! ...Left!...Your left, right, left!" could be
> "Yodelep!...Lep!...Yodelep, rye lep!"
> Was phonological change in Middle English ever so expressive as this?
> JL
> || "Ev'ry time I stand retreat, / Jody gets a piece of meat." ||

Jon, your example cadence sounds like one from the marines, where the
sergeants seem to pride themselves in making the cadence count as
unusual as their artistry in dismounted drill - marching practice -
will permit. Back in the day, there was a TV show called "The
Lieutenant," about life in the pre-Vietnam Corps, which opened with the
sound of sergeants calling cadence. It sounded very much like your
horrible example.

As coincidence would have it, at that time, I was dating a former woman
marine. (It's not funny, dammit! She was my best buddy's girlfriend's
best friend. You know the drill.) She often commented that she enjoyed
that show because she loved to hear the various countings of cadence
that separated the show from the commercials. It took her back to the
good old days at Camp Pendleton.

Our packs are heavy / Our belts are tight / Our scrotes are swingin'
from / LEFT to RIGHT


> Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
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> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Wilson Gray
> Subject: Re: "Hip" in Football: Precursor to "Hut"?
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> On Jan 14, 2005, at 12:38 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
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>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>> Poster: Laurence Horn
>> Subject: Re: "Hip" in Football: Precursor to "Hut"?
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>> -
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>> At 1:28 AM -0500 1/14/05, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>> A couple of weeks ago Barry Popik inquired about the origin of the
>>> quarterback's interjection "hut". I recently came across David
>>> Feldman's
>>> book of "Imponderables", _When Did Wild Poodles Roam the Earth?_, in
>>> which
>>> he discusses the question. Feldman's sources on football history all
>>> agree that the quarterback's "hut" is modeled on the Army drill
>>> sergeant's
>>> marching cadence of "hut 2-3-4". That had been my guess.
>>> One of the football historians also sent the following tidbit to
>>> Feldman,
>>> suggesting that the preferred interjection was once "hip":
>> thereby demonstrating the seminal role of Wolof in the evolution of
>> football...
> Well-played, Larry!
> For the record, the official spelling - and the officially-recommended
> approximate pronunciation - of the cadence is "HUT! TOOP! THREEP! FAW!"
> I can no longer remember the number of the Army manual in which this is
> codified. But I don't think that anybody here really cares, in any
> case.
> -Wilson
>>> --------
>>> _Spalding's How to Play Football_, 1921
>>> When shift formations are tried, the quarter-back should give his
>>> signal
>>> when the men are in their original places. Then after calling the
>>> signal
>>> [he] can use the word "hip" for the first shift and then repeat for
>>> the
>>> players to take up their new positions on the line of scrimmage.
>>> --------
>>> This seems a bit different from the use of "hut" since the '50s,
>>> which
>>> doesn't necessarily signal a shift of the offensive line. The
>>> quarterback
>>> may signal for the center to snap the ball on the first, second, or
>>> third
>>> "hut" without any shift being called. But perhaps the origins of the
>>> modern "hut" can be traced to this signal for a shift, most often
>>> associated with Knute Rockne's teams at Notre Dame. Some cites:
>>> --------
>>> Lincoln Star (Nebraska), Oct 31, 1926, p. 7/4
>>> Let us take a look at the Notre Dame offense. At the start it is as
>>> immune
>>> from power as an 1888 formation would be if brought into play today.
>>> Merely a balanced line and the old style backfield arrangement three
>>> backs
>>> in a row with the quarter under center. Then comes the "Hip" and the
>>> backs
>>> shift to either side of center into a "Z" formation, occasionally a
>>> second
>>> "Hip," but always the play is off.
>>> --------
>>> Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec 6, 1929, p. 28/2
>>> Well, I went out to see Rockne all right and the youngest Rockne,
>>> aged 3,
>>> was in the living room playing football with an older brother, and he
>>> was
>>> calling signals and doing the Notre Dame shift with the "hip" as he
>>> changed positions and everything.
>>> --------
>>> New York Times, Oct 17, 1935, p. 30/2
>>> The Blue quarterback barks: "One, two, three-- hip! One, two
>>> three"...
>>> The Blue came rushing up to the line with renewed savage shouts. One,
>>> two,
>>> three-- hip! One, two, three-- and away!
>>> --------
>>> Gettysburg Compiler (Penn.), Dec 7, 1940, p. 4/7
>>> "Listen, Stuhldreher! You're calling the 'hip' too slow! The whole
>>> point
>>> of this shift is to catch our opponents by surpriseĀ—- off-balance!
>>> They
>>> could knit a sweater between your signals!"
>>> --------
>>> Interestingly, the "hip" signal of Rockne's quarterbacks might have
>>> evoked
>>> not only marching cadences but also the "hip-hop" movement that the
>>> offensive line made with every shift. There are cites referring to
>>> the
>>> Notre Dame shift with the terms "hip-hop", "hippity-hop", and
>>> "hip-hip-hop" (half a century before "Rapper's Delight"!).
>>> --------
>>> _Chicago Daily Tribune_ Oct 7, 1928, p. N3/8
>>> There's that rhythmic shift of Rockne's-- one, two-- to the left--
>>> hip-hop! ... Now watch that dancing sidestep, the whole back field
>>> moves
>>> hippity-hop to the left in perfect tempo.
>>> --------
>>> _Los Angeles Times_ Sep 18, 1931, p. II9/6
>>> After more than an hour of this tough work, Spaulding started a
>>> length
>>> signal drill with the teams aligned as mentioned above. The Bruin
>>> coach
>>> has his backs counting one, two, three, a la Notre Dame, on their
>>> hip-hip-hop shift.
>>> --------
>>> --Ben Zimmer
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