Scottish Catholics angered by etymological myth
Rangers fans are being threatened with arrest under religious hate laws for singing the Hokey Cokey song at Rangers v Celtic matches.
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, is under the impression that the song has sinister origins:
This song does have quite disturbing origins. Although apparently innocuous, it was devised as an attack on and a parody of the Catholic mass.
If there are moves to restore its more malevolent meaning then consideration should perhaps be given to its wider use.
The idea is that the words “hokey cokey” are derived from “hocus pocus” which in turn are a deliberate mis-hearing of the Latin invocation “hoc est (enim) corpus (meum)” (“this is my body”).
However, according to the Michael Quinion of etymological myth-busting site World Wide Words, there is little evidence for such a derivation:
Many people today believe that the phrase originated in a corrupted form of the words of the consecration of the host in the old Latin mass: hoc est (enim) corpus (meum), “this is my body”, an idea that was first aired by John Tillotson, who was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1691 and 1694. But as this was part of an anti-Catholic sermon, it may be taken with a fair-sized pinch of salt. Another possibility, suggested in current Oxford dictionaries, is the nonsense Latin phrase “hax pax max Deus adimax”.
Still, let’s not get lack of evidence get in the way of a good opportunity to play the persecution card. Michael Matheson, the SNP MSP, says:
It’s important the police and football clubs are aware of the sinister background to this song, and take the appropriate action against individuals who use it to taunt Catholics.