Yee-haa: End of the Trail

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 24 16:07:17 UTC 2007

Having closed the book, so to speak, on "novel" and "fact," I'm now ready to call it quits on "Yee-haa."  But first:

  I finally got the chance to watch _Red River_ (1947) (released in 1948). In a justly famous scene at the beginning of the big cattle drive, John Wayne rides up at daybreak and tells Montgomery Clift, "Take 'em ta Missouri, Matt."

  The preview/trailer that I reported on previously abridges the scenec somewhat.  In response to Wayne, Clift cups his hand by the side of his mouth and utters an extended, smoothly falsetto call of "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"  This is a go signal and not an expression of elation.  Then Noah Beery, Jr., and the rest of the punchers start shouting "Yay-hoo!" "Ha-ha!," and so on, while Clift's call continues in the background. Nobody shouts "Yee-haa" in the modern sense - or any sense.

  So, yes, there's a "yee-haa"-related sound in _Red River_, but it lacks the stress pattern     and context of the modern "Yee-haa."

  Which was popularized by Speedy Gonzales.

  (BTW, there's plenty of yelling at horses and cattle in _Red River_. But the yells are "Haa! Haa!" not "Yee-haa!")


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