Further to the post on the above I wish to add further insight to the origin of this phrase.
Hep! Hep! Hurrah originated after the Roman final siege of Jerusalem in 135 A.D. against the false Messiah, Bar-Cochebas, who had acquired possession of the ruins.
Not much is known of this, perhaps the most awful of all the sieges. So great and severe was the struggle, that Hadrian, in announcing to the Roman Senate the conclusion of the war, refrained from using the usual congratulatory phrase.
The city was now obliterated. Its very name was changed and it was renamed Aelia Capitolinus.
So great was the relief which Rome experienced by this suppression of Jerusalem and the Jews, that the toast became common at Roman feasts, “hierosolyma Est Perdita,” “Jerusalem is destroyed,” the guests immediately greeting it with the shout “Hurrah.”
This is the origin of our “Hep!Hep! Hurrah,” H, E, P, being the abbreviation of the three words, formed by their initial letters (on the principle known as Notarica, or Notricon.
To this day ‘Hep’ or ‘Hip’ is said by only one person, the rest joining in the shout which greets it.
Courtesy of Dr.E.W. Bullinger’s work on “Number in Scripture”.
The questioner also mentions the theory that “hip hip hurrah” derives from an abbreviation of the Latin Hierusylema Est Perdita, “Jerusalem is destroyed.” This is so nutty that Cecil didn’t even bother to shoot it down.
“Number in Scripture” is an 1894 work on Biblical Numerology. It appears to be one of the classic crackpot works. [And you thought the Bible Code was something new.]
Needless to say, no modern lexicographer believes that this origin of the phrase is remotely possible.
Always remember the prime directive of etymology, paraphrasing Cecil: If someone suggests an acronym for a word that pre-dates World War II, run screaming in the other direction. Think “cop”, “posh”, “tip”, “the f-word”.
Well, but what I mean is, in this case, I think you have to. I mean, when people say “hep, hep, hoorah!”, they say “hep”. They don’t say “aich-eee-pee”…they don’t say each letter seperately.
When the Romans used SPQR on stuff, if they read it, I believe they read each letter. They didn’t have a word that sounded like “spqr”. So that would be an abbreviation, but not the same thing as an acronym like “radar” or “nasa”
Rubbish yourself. Initialism is not even included in my American Heritage College dictionary, which suggests that it is not a good fit for casual use. (Nor is it in my spell checker’s dictionary.)
The Encarta College edition does have an entry for initialism, and a language note under abbreviation.
The note lists four types of abbreviations: shortenings, contractions, initialisms, and acronyms. This suggests that the use of abbreviation in reference to SPQR could lead to confusion.
So if abbreviation will not work, and initialism is too technical a word for everyday speech, what is one to do? Why not use a word which is common, widely understood to mean formed of initials, and already has a long history of such usage?
When good writers use a new (or newer) sense of a word, it becomes a legitimate sense of that word. I am a good writer.
YHWH isn’t an abbreviation of any sort, and the inscription on the Cross was “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaorum”, not the abbreviation. I’m not sure when just the letters “INRI” became used, nor when or whether they ever came to be pronounced.
And regardless of what one calls it, an abbreviation where the letters are sounded individually, like “SPQR”, is a different sort of thing from where they’re sounded as a complete word, like (allegedly) “Hep”.
Admittedly, he could have done so more vehemently but, as Uncle Cecil points out from time to time, he is up against a word limit.
I know this seems picky, but I have heard this rhetoric from time to time (something is so ridiculous, inane, nutty that Cecil didn’t bother to address it) and it just doesn’t pass muster. There have been plenty of threads in this forum with an OP asking why Cecil didn’t answer the original question! Cecil may be all knowing, but even he can’t fit everything in.
If anyone is still interested in this topic, I’ve filed a full report on the supposed origin of “Hep! Hep!” as an acronym of Hierosolyma Est Perdita (Jerusalem is Lost/Destroyed). The short answer is, No way; it’s not. The longer answer, though, is a lot more interesting. I’ve put an interim draft of the paper up on my blog and would be grateful for feedback. In a few months the report will be published as an appendix to a scholarly paper. The draft also includes a picture of the first print mention of the acronym.
It should be noted that we normally require anyone wanting to survey/get feedback from the Teeming Millions to ask for permission in advance. We do note that this is in the interest of increasing knowledge and generating discussion and so in that spirit we’re letting it stay. Please do ask us in advance in the future. Thanks.