rebel yell and yeehaw

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Sat Jan 21 05:41:02 UTC 2012

I got the following comment today on my blog post on "yeehaw"

Wrong. The reason "Yeehaw" exists in association to the West is
because so many Southerners ended up there after the Civil War
because their homeland had been sacked and burned and was under
Federal (Yankee) occupation - home itself was not friendly territory.
They probably did yell it on cattle drives; whether early Hollywood
actors and writers from New York, Chicago and maybe Alberta were
familiar with it is irrelevant.

"Yeehah!" is the Southernism that was identified as the "Rebel Yell"
which was in use since before the Civil War and was heard during the
Civil War... usually delivered at the top of one's lungs. Just
because you haven't observed its history doesn't mean that such
history doesn't exist. I grew up in rural South Carolina and this
goes back a long, long way, for generations.

Needless to say, I think he is a little oversure of his version,
although it is in its way an interesting contribution to the
question. I would be glad of comment (by email or at by any with
pertinent knowledge -- someone a little "closer" to it might speak
more authoritatively than I could.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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