Shakespearean Hokey Pokey

A bit of genius unsourced net.stuff: if Shakespeare wrote the Hokey Pokey. "The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt/Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about."

Update: And we have a source! It's from a "Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything), but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was The Hokey Pokey (as written by William Shakespeare)", "Written by Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls, Maryland, and submitted by Katherine St. John." - Thanks, princessalex!

Shakespeare Teaches the Hokey Pokey


    1.  Since Real Shakespeare introduced over 1700 words into English, their first appearance in print being in his works, perhaps we can allow that Parody Shakespeare might have invented one.

      But good catch.

      1. The term dervish was first imported into the English lexicon in the 1580s – before or at the very beginning of Shakespeare’s writing career.

    2. The OED cites a translator named Washington using the word “dervish” in English in 1585. William Shakespeare, then 21 years old, would have had 31 years to learn the word.

    1. British humour has an interesting relationship with Germans, it seems. Germans supposedly don’t have a sense of humour (not true), but they seem to love British humour. A surprising number of British comedians (Bill Bailey and Kevin Eldon from that sketch, John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, etc.) seem to speak at least passable German.

      1. You can adde Eddie Izzard to that list – he’s apparently going to do his next shows in Germany in German. On the other side,  Henning Wehn seems to be getting a good response in the UK. 

        Which is nice.

    1. Some areas have Hokey Cokey, others Hokey Poppey, not to mention Hokey Sodey.

    1. It would seem that the original title was Hokey Pokey which the US preserves. Hokey Cokey is a variant. This is probably one of those cases where US English is closer to Shakespearean English than British English.

      1. The original was the hokey COKEY. 
        There was a court case in the UK over it a number of years ago, with an American claiming copyright over the song. He lost. 

        That’s what is was all about.

        1. So the courts now have jursidiction over etymology. I wasn’t thinking of the song but the origins of the phrase itself. I phrased it poorly and ambiguously.

        2. Next topic: What’s the proper pronunciation for the chemical element with the symbol “Al”?

          1. Humphrey Davy definitely proposed Aluminum before Aluminium was chosen to match the other -iums.

            I think he actually wanted Alumium first though.

  1. This is probably one of those cases where US English is closer to Shakespearean English than British English.

  2. Maybe more general-English-Renaissance than specifically Shakespearean. Will would more likely have written couplets than an ABAB rhyme scheme–unless this is the last ten lines of a sonnet, or maybe a fragment of one of the songs: “That antic dance thou sang of yesternight,/ it gladdened my heart. Do thou sing again./ I wot not hokey, neither pokey,/ yet the two conjoined do make fair music.”

Comments are closed.