I understand the meaning of the saying "I'll go he", but does anyone know where it comes from?
The researcher here seems to think that there is a couple of words left off.
According to ABC.net.au,
I do not put a lot of stock in the comment of the researcher who said there were a couple of words left off, shared with him by Australian reference librarians, but then refused to disclose them. Supposing the researcher is honest, there is still too much distance between him and a reliable reference source. His theory of two missing words – whatever they are – is hearsay at best.
It is equally likely that these librarians consulted a slang dictionary, possibly Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005) –
– or A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day by Eric Partridge, edited by Paul Beale (Routledge, 1986) –
– and that the librarians (or the researcher) jumped to the conclusion that the two exclamations, adjacent on the page, were necessarily related.
I'll go he is found in Australia from the 1910s.
I'll go hopping [to hell] is found in Australia from the 1920s.
I don't know for sure, but as both are found in the same country around the same time, it's possible the former is a polite euphemism for the other, it probably being unacceptable to publish the latter in earlier times.
I'll go he
I'll go he dates from at least the 1910s in Australia, so possibly earlier with a New Zealand origin. It's used in the form:
Searching the Trove archive of Australian newspapers (1803 - 1954) gives this from The Mail (Adelaide, SA) of 21 December 1912 in a letter from a Mr EC Murch:
From "Gittin'-Up Time: A Bushman's Bleat" in the Sunday Times (Perth, WA) of 22 June 1913:
The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld.) of 26 October 1920:
I'll go hopping...
I don't know if I'll go he actually derives I’ll go hopping [to hell]! but this phrase and related phrases (to heaven/hades/h----/----) can also be found initially used in a familiar manner Australia from the 1920s:
Or later exclaimed when surprised by something unlikely:
The Recorder (Port Pirie, SA) 15 August 1925 writes of a football match:
Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld.) of 16 February 1933:
Williamstown Chronicle (Vic.), 12 May 1934:
Advocate (Burnie, Tas.), 5 October 1938: