Origins of the word Dada

Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

NARRATOR: The term “dada” itself -- French for ‘hobbyhorse’; German for ‘there, there’; ‘yes, yes’ in Romanian -- was chosen for its aural appeal and because it did not belong to any one language. Richard Huelsenbeck, one of the co-founders of Zurich Dada, explained how the name came about.

POET, RICHARD HUELSENBECK [ARCHIVAL]: Now, we wanted to find a name for our activities, and we didn't know what to call it. So finally we took a very famous French encyclopedia, and we went through the first 20 or 30 pages. And when we came to D, I put my finger on the word ‘Dada.’ As soon as we had mentioned the word ‘Dada’ to our friends, they became extremely interested in it, as if a spark had been lighted, and ‘Dada’ became the shingle of our activities. So Dada came to us rather than we coming to Dada.**

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