Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Hut 1 – 2 – 3

This just in from Dawn Shawley, the translation manager around here (i.e. at Lexiteria):

“Chris and I were talking about the hut-hut in football, and where it comes from. Sometimes I say, “Zak zak!” to the kids in German, which was always used as a “hurry up/let’s go” in my memory, and that reminded me of hup, which lead to hut in football.”

No. We know nothing about the origins. This is a Yankee mispronunciation of hup, which is a Redneck mispronunciation of hep ;-). Hep has been an interjection accompanying marching cadence for centuries. No one has any idea of why the marines or the quarterback says hup, two, three, four rather than one, two, three, four.

There is one interesting parallel, though, in Russian: Russians also avoid the equivalent of one in counting anything: raz, dva, tri, chetyri rather than odin, dva, tri, chetyri—in cadences or otherwise. I would imagine these interjections emphasize the cadence to attract attention to them. Hup does have a slight suggestion of the sense Zak zak in your mind: “hurry up/let’s go”.

One Response to “Hut 1 – 2 – 3”

  1. Perry Lassiter Says:

    I would think in marching, the HUP, 2, 3, 4 comes as an accent on the rhythm of the march. Musical marches are usually in 4/4 time with the accent on the first beat. Likewise, the first sound of the quarterback is also to get attention and the sound is expelled with force. Many teams only use a series of huts.

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