[Ads-l] Hip/Hep and "Crying Wolof" (for Horn & Sheidlower)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 13 13:49:14 UTC 2016

The data available to HDAS two decades ago made it impossible to say which,
hip or hep, was "the original."

Both appear in writing at almost the same time. The popular presumption
that "hip" is the original and therefore the "correct form" is neither
provable nor disprovable.

"Hip" and "hep" first appear in print - in white theatrical and criminal
discourse - ca.1900.  "Hep" was long the predominant form.

"Hepcat" and the very less frequent "hipcat" don't show up until the swing


On Sat, Mar 12, 2016 at 11:10 PM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Hip/Hep and "Crying Wolof" (for Horn & Sheidlower)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 11 Mar 2016 13:53:57 zone+0800 W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> Subject:
> <begin quote>
> <hippity-hop> is obviously connected to the quintessentially AA hip-hop
> cultural movement.
> Hippity-hop to the barber shop,
>    To buy a stick of candy;
> One for you, and one for me,
>    And one for Brother Andy.
> Note the significant reference to Spencer Williams at the end of the
> poem.
> Who could doubt that <hippity-hop> derives from <hip-hop>, if not
> ultimately from Wolof, given the phonological, semantic, & cultural
> correspondences?
> <end quote>
> Actually, Mr. Brewer, the term "hip-hop" was originated by an
> African-American musician who was reading Beatrix Potter and decided that
> since he was a member of a disadvantaged minority group he felt affinity
> with Peter Rabbit.
> Seriously, English has a long-standing fondness for what might be called
> "mishmash" words, words of the form AXB-AYB where A and B are consonants or
> consonant clusters and X and Y are vowels.  Examples:  riff-raff,
> flim-flam, flip-flop, zig-zag, tic-tac-(toe), click-clack, knick-knack,
> Long-Fong-Spong Hong Kong Ping Pong Ding Dong.  These are easy to invent:
> books published in Riga are Lett Lit.
> (Mishmash words are not restricted to English, e.g. in the French original
> of "Frere Jacques" the bells sound "din dan don", and in Sweden there is a
> series of children's books about three boys named Snip, Snap, and Snur.)
> I have absolutely no evidence for the following conjecture, but it is easy
> to imagine that some musician or music critic (probably but not necessarily
> African-American) decided that here was a new genre of music and it needed
> a name.  The music was definitely "hip" and this theorized coiner may have
> then thought of the phrase "hippity-hop", or even of Peter Rabbit, or of
> some other rabbit, or maybe even the dance known as the "bunny hop", and
> came up with "hip-hop".
> One thing I do know about "hip" and "hep" is that the latter was widely
> known in white America by 1945, when the US Navy had a squadron of
> submarines (USS Sea Dog, Crevalle, and Spadefish) known as "Hydeman's Hep
> Cats".  (There were two other squadrons, "Piece's Pole Cats" and "[Bob]
> Risser's Bob Cats".  Collectively, the three squadrons formed the "Hell
> Cats".)
> Did I miss somewhere in this thread evidence that "hip" derived from "hep"
> or vice versa?
> - Jim Landau  (who wouldn't recognize a piece of hip-hop music if one
> hopped in front of him)
> _____________________________________________________________
> Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list