Which one is it really: hear hear or here here? Where does the saying really come from?
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It's "Hear! Hear!" which comes from "Hear him! Hear him!"
"Hear him! Hear him!"
"Hear him! Hear him!" was referred to in Debates in Parliament in 1688, and from the context it's clear it was a commonly heard phrase at the time.
Seymour continues, and is followed by:
A interesting non-parliamentary use of "hear, hear" can be found in a 1770 A Letter to Lord Mansfield. A North Briton Extraordinary:
Note the parenthetic interjections to the quoted text:
Originally from 1772 is what looks to be a satire on parliament in The Batchelor: or Speculations of Jeoffry Wagstaffe, Esq, Volume 3 that shows a transitional "hear, hear him":
Finally, in 1777 is an actual transcription of "Hear! Hear!" in The Parliamentary register: or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons:
I think we can dismiss the biblical claims to origin.
If we want to be specific to the phrase, then we can't find either "hear, hear" or "hear him, hear him", in any of the early bible translations, though we can certainly find hear in the imperative, it is not the same phrase. It also requests that you listen to the speech it itself is reporting, rather than to another person who is currently speaking.
If we're going to allow a bare hear, used to prefix one's own speech or report of speech to count, then we might as well allow Hwæt!, the first word in Beowulf to count, giving it a date of between the 8th and 11th century, depending on who you believe on that matter.
As an expression, we're left with late 17th Century use in the British Houses of Parliament.
Related to the 2nd part of the question - as to where does
I think its origins are from the phrase
from the Bible.
This phrase is used to conjunction with
usually followed by a proclamation of some kind.
This way of drawing attention of the listeners to what was about to be said was probably then popularized further by the practice of town criers (those chaps with scrolls and bells in england and maybe other places as well) who followed the same practice of drawing attention to them before their official (mostly king / government related proclamations) with the similar cry of
Over the years, especially with "old English" words like "Ye" no longer being used, this has probably been shortened to "Hear Hear"
The phrase is properly "Hear, hear", since you want everyone to hear what's being said.
Nonetheless, the eggcorn "Here, here" is so common that it may actually be eclipsing the original version.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Dec 4 '12 at 22:01
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