"Hut!" redux

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 16 00:56:24 UTC 2009


I can recall using "Hup!" when we were playing soldier During The War.
We probably got it from the movies and/or the MovieTone News. (At
black-only picture- shows in the North, there was also the SepiaTone
News. There was also a pre-Ebony magazine named Sepia,)

When I was in The War fifty years ago, there was great confusion WRT
what drill sergeants actually said. I personally thought that, in
general, they said, "Tinch-HUT!" and there are many who would agree
with me. But there were also plenty of EM who heard "Atten-HUT" and
various other "variations, permutations, combinations, and
probabilities" (lifted from the title of a chapter in the
advanced-algebra textbook used at my high school, way back "when
mother was a girl," to resurrect a phrase that was already considered
dated in the '40's). Though the NCO's were the bane of our existence,
there was a Stockholm-syndrome-like response that led to our
respectfully imitating, not mocking, their military jargon. Hence, I
was aware of the many different versions of "Attention!" that others
mistakenly ;-) assumed to be the correct one.

Different strokes, I reckon.

There was one white sergeant who, to my ear, stressed the syllables
equally loudly, yielding something like " CUMP-nih! TIIN-HUUT!", as he
strode in a military manner from the sergeant's quarters of the 4th
platoon. Once we were at attention, we could no longer see him. But,
we could hear his footsteps crunching in the gravel of the company
street. He would already be stepping at the marching cadence. He had
it down to a science, such that he could issue a string of intervening
commands, yet would never have to issue the final, crucial command of
"HARCH!" until he was exactly at the drill sergeant's position in the
formation, moving us out at exactly his pace, so that he never broke
stride, the crunching our steps precisely coordinated with his own.

Impressive! *Very* cool! Always a real
damn!-how-the-hell-does-he-*do*-that?! moment.


On Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 1:35 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      "Hut!" redux
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The origins of the quarterback's "hut" came up on ADS-L in a couple of
> threads back in 2004-05. My latest Word Routes column takes a more detailed
> look:
> http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/1983/
> This is a follow-up to my (very brief) appearance on "NFL Films Presents"
> last week:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMKZpCT2Fk0
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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