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Shanty or Chantey?

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GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 May 18 - 12:56 PM
RTim 29 May 18 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 May 18 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 May 18 - 07:09 PM
Steve Gardham 26 May 18 - 02:16 PM
GUEST 26 May 18 - 05:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 May 18 - 08:12 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 May 18 - 07:00 PM
Steve Gardham 25 May 18 - 06:06 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 May 18 - 04:15 PM
Steve Gardham 25 May 18 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 03:45 PM
Lighter 20 May 18 - 07:53 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 May 18 - 01:40 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 May 18 - 01:35 AM
Lighter 19 May 18 - 08:55 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 May 18 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Feb 18 - 07:50 AM
EBarnacle 05 Sep 17 - 11:24 AM
Charley Noble 04 Sep 17 - 03:10 PM
EBarnacle 02 Sep 17 - 12:01 PM
SPB-Cooperator 02 Sep 17 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 01 Sep 17 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 01 Sep 17 - 07:33 PM
Gibb Sahib 07 Sep 15 - 01:15 AM
DMcG 06 Sep 15 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Lighter 06 Sep 15 - 12:41 PM
EBarnacle 06 Sep 15 - 12:03 PM
DMcG 06 Sep 15 - 11:39 AM
DMcG 06 Sep 15 - 11:32 AM
Lighter 06 Sep 15 - 11:25 AM
Airymouse 06 Sep 15 - 09:27 AM
Gibb Sahib 05 Sep 15 - 07:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 14 - 01:17 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Sep 14 - 01:40 PM
Bat Goddess 18 Sep 14 - 12:50 PM
Bat Goddess 17 Sep 14 - 11:07 AM
Airymouse 17 Sep 14 - 09:35 AM
Lighter 17 Sep 14 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,David C Kendall 17 Sep 14 - 06:50 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Jan 14 - 07:33 PM
Gibb Sahib 14 Jan 14 - 05:17 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Jan 14 - 01:28 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 14 Jan 14 - 11:34 AM
Gibb Sahib 14 Jan 14 - 07:42 AM
Gibb Sahib 13 Jan 14 - 10:38 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Jan 14 - 02:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jan 14 - 02:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 13 Jan 14 - 02:37 PM
Lighter 13 Jan 14 - 09:49 AM
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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 May 18 - 12:56 PM

PPS: Mo French in the colonial shantytown drift.

Another, older, North American name for shantytown was shantyville. Sawmills are mentioned early & often but also mining towns or even a small gathering of covered wagons around a roadhouse.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: RTim
Date: 29 May 18 - 10:57 PM

I don't really care - but tend to use Shanty...it slips off the keyboard easier.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 May 18 - 07:11 PM

FYI: In Creole, the “r” in chantrelle or troubadour is often pronounced as “w” ie: chantwell & twoubadou.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 May 18 - 07:09 PM

Folk history alert, none of the following is true, except maybe all of it. ;)

One of the most popular edible mushrooms in North America is the chanterelle (cantharellus cibarius.) The diminutive is “chanty,” no “e.”

Held one way the mushroom looks like a funnel or flute...

late 18th century: from French, from modern Latin cantharellus, diminutive of cantharus, from Greek kantharos, denoting a kind of drinking container.” [OED online]

“Inverted” it's a bell...

f. The treble, in singing; also, a treble string, or bell; also, a small bell for a chyme.
[A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, (London: 1650)]

No idea about the French minstrel or chantyman's fiddle strings though.

Apropos nothing at all, another name for shantytown is... mushroom town.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 May 18 - 02:16 PM

The mind boggles!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 18 - 05:26 AM

I once received a topless hand chandy in Weymouth if that helps...


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 May 18 - 08:12 PM

try again

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/leisure/stage/16249526.WHAT__39_S_ON_THIS_WEEKEND__Fayre_in_the_Square__Jazz_Jurassica__Nothe_Fort_1


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 May 18 - 07:00 PM

just in case, theres anyone reading this Dorset Wrecks have got a gig tomorrow in Hope Square, Weymouth. The weekend after its Wessex folk festival and theres bound to loads of shanty singing, and even some chantey singing going on round the harbour in Weymouth.

href="http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/leisure/stage/16249526.WHAT__39_S_ON_THIS_WEEKEND__Fayre_in_the_Square__Jazz_Jurassica__Nothe_Fort_1">http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/leisure/stage/16249526.WHAT__39_S_ON_THIS_WEEKEND__Fayre_in_the_Square__Jazz_Jurassica__Nothe_Fort_1


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 May 18 - 06:06 PM

Ah yes, Jolly Rogers and Do-me-ammerstein in the South Pacific! I remembers it well!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:15 PM

Many times afore the mainmast we sang, 'Some en-chantey evening! me boys!'

the romance of the sea....


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:02 PM

I really don't think it matters that much. I for one am happy to accept the ultimate French derivation of the word via Gulf port influence. However, the songs had been in use for a couple of decades before anyone was using the word to describe them. I have been using 'chanty' for a couple of years in my own writing and I'm happy with that, though I don't object to anyone else using a different spelling.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:45 PM

Constant reminder: God didn't make the Chantyman from a handful of clay c.1800. He evolved. The era under discussion has centuries of Roman Catholic maritime culture replaced wholesale with the secular/Protestant equivalent, book burnings and all.

Sailor's Society for Stella Maris; “two-six-heave” and Let the Bulgine Run in for Salve Regina; chantyman for chanter, celeuste &c. Afaik Catholic sailors weren't all that welcome again in Martha's Vineyard environs until the early 20th century.

So if you're shooting for any logic, order or uniformity, past, present or future, for Acadia, Nantucket, Texas and California chanty application, pronunciation or spelling fuggedaboudit.

Lastly & pedantly, the so-called low, mean or crude end of the chanson scale would, methinks, traditionally come from the provençal minstrel or “chanterre” (cantores, cantatores, canteour &c) not “polite society's” psalm chanters.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Lighter
Date: 20 May 18 - 07:53 AM

> The antecedent (though not the origin per se) of chanty, I argue, is chant.

A subtle but meaningful distinction.

I concur entirely that the mere appearance of the word "chanty/ shanty/ chantey" doesn't *by itself* tell us anything about the practice of sailors or stevedores at work. The early evidence you've collected indicates strongly that the singing came before the word.

Nobody ever said, "If we sing, our work will be easier! And let's call these new work songs "chanteys"! Like a trademark thing!"

As you say, if an early chantey sounded chant-like to an observer, it would have been called a "chant." Otherwise it would have been called a "song" (the word Dana used in the 1830s).

The usual pronunciation of "chant" strongly suggests to me that "chantey" comes from elsewhere - presumably French or Gulf/Caribbean French Creole, etc. I also agree that "chantyman" came first.

It may have been in a context where English was dominant but the chanteyman began the work by shouting "Chantez!" in French. That made him the "chantez man" to English speakers. That would explain the "sh" pronunciation. The vowel change would then have come from association with English "chant." And, as you say, a "chanty" became the song led by a "chanty-man" - particularly if the English-speaker also knew some French.

In other words, the origin of "chanty/ shanty/ chantey" is complex rather than singular.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 May 18 - 01:40 AM

A public admission here, as well: I have not directly examined (but do hope to some day when the opportunity comes) examined the 1850s manuscript I mention. Rather, I am trusting the transcription of the manuscript by Stuart Frank et.al. (I see no reason not to trust his transcription, though as a matter of formality I would like to put my own eyes on it.)

I mention this because it is the earliest document I know of with the word, and it's not, I think, something that people are generally aware of.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 May 18 - 01:35 AM

I'm honored to be published in the same journal as you, Lighter! My inspiration for seeking the journal was that Lyman article/note published in it in the 50s.

For those reading along, I don't claim to tell the "origin" of the word chanty, but rather investigate its known development to learn certain things about it and the chanty genre.

The two things that I think are my main contributions:

1. Establishing, pretty firmly I think, that "ch" is the etymologically "correct" spelling. That doesn't mean whatsoever that one must spell it that way, just that *if* one is interested in spelling words in ways that do well to preserve or reveal their origins, then "ch" is the best choice.

2. Argument that the term "chantyman" preceded the term "chanty." Instead of seeking the origin of the term "chanty" directly and assuming "chantyman" is its derivative, I argue that one might be better off seeking the origin of "chantyman." This speaks to the "issue" of the "y"; I think one would tend to get different results if one followed a path to explore an explanation for the y in chantyman versus doing the same for chanty.
The antecedent (though not the origin per se) of chanty, I argue, is chant. Not much of a revelation, but rather an effort to decrease the likelihood of other proposed derivations.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Lighter
Date: 19 May 18 - 08:55 PM

Thanks for the heads-up, Gibb. Great article.

Before the age of the Internet, new words from non-literary sources often took many years, even decades, to enter print with any frequency. It seems certain, for example, that "O.K." effectively originated as a lame joke in a Boston newspaper in 1839, but it wasn't till after the Civil War that it began to appear much in print. It took even longer to become current in novelistic dialogue.

All of this is entirely consistent with your suggestion - based in part on W. Clark Russell's recollection - that "chantey/shanty/chanty" was not a word known to the majority of deep-water sailors (especially not British sailors) before the late '60s or early '70s.

The same journal published my first article back in - well, let's just say "back in the day" and leave it at that.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 May 18 - 06:57 PM

_American Speech_ has published an article of mine on this topic.

“The Execrable Term”:A Contentious History of chanty. _American Speech_ 92.4 (2017): 429–458.
https://read.dukeupress.edu/american-speech/article-abstract/92/4/429/134095/The


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Feb 18 - 07:50 AM

Won't solve anything but...

At the other end of the Mississippi from the lumberjacks, "chantier" usage had more emphasis on the "tier," as in layered stacks (or stocks.)

A lumberman's chantier was a stockpile.

A nautical chantier was the scaffolding under and around a ship on the ways, also a kind of "stock" in English.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 05 Sep 17 - 11:24 AM

And a Barbary doll to you, Charley!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Sep 17 - 03:10 PM

The earliest reference I can find to a chaneyman is from the French children's book Chanticleer. The first verse and chorus runs:

Chanticleer, the Shanghaied Rooster

Dm---F---------------Dm---------C------Dm
Good friends, draw near, I've a tale to tell,
-------F-------Dm----------F----C-Dm
Of a rooster bold called Chan-ti-cleer;
--------------F---------C---F---Dm
Who sailed upon the o-cean blue,
----------F---Dm-----------C--Dm
Return-ing home with ri-ches rare.

Chorus:

Dm----F-----------Dm------C---------Dm
Crow high, crow low, and so sailed he,
Dm-------F------------------Dm---C-----Dm
Cock-a-doddle-do, as the wind blows free,
Dm----------F----------------C---Dm
Crow high, crow low, and so sailed he,
--------------F--------------Dm--C--Dm
Bold Chan-ti-cleer who sailed the sea!

Stick that in your crop and crunch it!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 02 Sep 17 - 12:01 PM

We sang a chantey as we moved the shanty where they made our chutney.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 02 Sep 17 - 09:00 AM

Having specialised in maritime music for nearly 30 years before 'retiring' I am not bothered what spelling people choose to use. I have always used the shanty spelling. What is more important for me is understanding the job the shanty was used for, and singing it in a way that works with the job.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 07:52 PM

Seriously though, on the spelling:

If you're doing the spelling, work it out with your editor or whatevs in the prelims.

If you're reading (read searching) - I'll see Gibb's comments elsewhere about learning to deal with the "ch" and raise you the "u" - "e" - "ſ."

But that still leaves out the why it's important as a sorting criteria as applied to what they are or opposed to all the other names for them in other languages.

Off to the other threads I guess.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 07:33 PM

What's in a name?

Many years ago the task of going aloft on the smaller conchy sailing vessel went to the youngest sailor.

They told us the ancient Roman navy term was funambulus, a "rope dancer." They told us the so-called circus "tight-rope walker" was properly a "funambulist." Way cool.

Lost in translation...


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Sep 15 - 01:15 AM

Holy off-topic, Batman!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: DMcG
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 01:03 PM

You might have missed that he was my classics teacher, Lighter. It was, therefore Classical Latin and Greek we were studying, not modern English. So any fault is mine in carrying a habit I learned a long time ago forward.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 12:41 PM

Carabao? That too is often pronounced as "caribou." (Even I would call that a mispronunciation, for reasons to complicated to go into.)

Anyway, "cognate" terms don't have to share a pronunciation feature. Being "cognate" only means they're related by origin.

For example, English "maiden" and German "Maedchen" are cognate. They both descend from an earlier, now-extinct Teutonic word-form. But the "kh" sound that persisted in the German word fell out of use in English long ago. (And no one apparently wants to bring it back from the fifth century either.)

As for "cherub" (plural "cherubim): Greek, of course, had a "k" sound. So did Latin when the Romans adopted the word.

But Latin in the Middle Ages was pronounced differently all over Europe. In English-based Latin, the written "ch" was pronounced as in "church," regardless of the centuries-obsolete pronunciation of Classical Latin and Greek.

So anybody who says (or worse, insists that others say) "kerub/ kerubim" is a thousand years behind the times and, one might say, not really speaking English.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 12:03 PM

Caribou?


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: DMcG
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 11:39 AM

This Wikipedia extract may explain why: "The Hebrew term cherubim is cognate with the Assyrian term karabu, Akkadian term kuribu, and Babylonian term karabu; the Assyrian term means 'great, mighty', but the Akkadian and Babylonian cognates mean 'propitious, blessed'.[3][4] In some regions the Assyro-Babylonian term came to refer in particular to spirits which served the gods, in particular to the shedu (human-headed winged bulls);[4] the Assyrians sometimes referred to these as kirubu, a term grammatically related to karabu.[3] "


k sounds all!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: DMcG
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 11:32 AM

That 'ch' can be tricky. My classics teacher at school used to insist we pronounce 'cherubim' as if it were 'kerubim'. It stuck with me and I tend to stand out in every carol concert!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 11:25 AM

Contrary to popular misconception, the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Wesbter Online both recognize "sizzum" and "skizzum" as legitimate pronunciations of "schism."


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Airymouse
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 09:27 AM

Summary
Chantey/shanty two spellings one pronunciation
Chaps one spelling two pronunciations (though "shaps" is less common)
schism one spelling one pronunciation (Those who do not know the ch is is silent are mispronouncing the word, though the result is not so awkward as making the same mistake with fuchsia.)


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Sep 15 - 07:07 PM

Re: Evidence in print of the TERM (I'm not concerned as much with the spelling) chanty/chantey/shanty/etc.:

I have been working with Clark's _Seven years_ (1867) as the earliest cited reference to the term -- while assuming, at the same time, that there is probably some earlier evidence waiting to be found.

Well, here is some earlier evidence I have "found": a whaleman's journal entries from 1859 have "shantie."

The reason for my scare-quotes is that the source isn't exactly new; granted, perhaps few people have really examined it, but the people that have would be at least somewhat close to discussions of chanties. Nonetheless, I'm not aware that they have presented it in this light.

if you'll excuse a cut 'n' paste (I'd rather not re-type these details) from a FB post:

//
One might suppose the term "chanty" (or, as it may be spelled, "shanty," "shantey," "chantey," etc.) was known from the beginning, more or less, of the existence of the work-song genre or repertory to which the term refers. Although it's possible that was the case, evidence of the term, so far discovered, only appears in documents dating from a period well after the genre began to develop.

Whether one subscribes to the idea, developed by myself, that the chanty genre developed from forms of song sung in African-American non-seagoing work contexts going back at least to the late eighteenth century, or if one prefers to see shipboard chanty-singing that emerged in the 1830s as a starting point, in either case one has to settle for references published significantly later to date the term itself.

One of the best known references to s term morphologically and contextually similar to "chanty" is the mention of cotton stowers' "chants" in Nordhoff's _The Merchant Sailor_ (1855). Nordhoff, observed the singing of cotton-stowers in Mobile, AL in 1848. That these "chants" were sung by a "chantyman" confirms that they were connected to the tradition of what we know as chanties. However, the familiar form ending in a /y/ sound does not (i.e. as far as is known) appear in a publication until the 1860s.

The Oxford English Dictionary long offered an 1869 _Chambers's Journal_ article, which referred to /shanty/, as the earliest known source. It was later discovered that Clark's _Seven Years of a Sailor's Life_, 1867, contained /chanty/, and the OED now reflects this revision.
However, an earlier, manuscript source, long known to historians of whaling out of New England, contains plenty of earlier evidence for /shanty/. Nonetheless, I have never encountered it in any discussions about the age of the term.

The source is the journal of William Abbe while he worked aboard the whaleship _Atkins Adams_ out of Stonington, CT, 1858-1859. Given the difficulty of deciphering the writing in many such journals and logs, it is not at all surpassing that this late 1850s whaleman's journal went unnoticed. I conjecture, additionally, that the small set of whaling historians who did take the pains to study Abbe's journal may have taken the term for granted, perhaps not realizing the significance of its appearance in an 1850s document.

Beginning in entries from 1859, Abbe refers to "shantie" or "shanties" some ten times. For example, in the entry for January 4, 1859, Abbe wrote,

'We began to sing Shanties last night in hauling off sheets or lowering on halliards, Jack leading in "Johnny Francois" & "Katy my darling" and all hands taking up the refrain & pulling with a will. This pleased the mate, who told us that was pretty well for the first time, that he liked to hear us make a noise, as it showed that Jack -- "not Allegany" -- but any one of us, was awake. He laughed, rubbed his hands, & crew out "that's the way, sailors." The first time when lowering away on f. t. sl halliards, Tom set them all a roaring by his ludicrous singing, till Mate & all laughing, they were obliged to avast singing, and haul away without the "Shantie," but the next attempt was more successful, & we hauld home the main sheet in fine style.'

My "discovery" of these references would not have been likely if it weren't for the fact that the late William Wyatt (d.2011), a retired professor of Classics at Brown University and a volunteer at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, transcribed Abbe's journal. Wyatt's transcription was posted fairly recently to the NBWM's website. (The page is marked as last modified in Aug. 2014.)

_Journal of my Whaling Cruise in ship Atkins Adams_ is part of the Old Dartmouth Society's collection, log # 485. The transcription can be seen here:
http://www.whalingmuseum.org/…/library/projects/atkins-adams
//

The journal from ATKINS ADAMS is familiar as the source for a version of "Old Maui," given by Gale Huntington. I have not seen the manuscript directly.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 14 - 01:17 PM

This argument goes round and round.
In the words of the immortal Alfred E. Neuman, "What, me worry?"


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Sep 14 - 01:40 PM

Like Jon I moved quite a while ago to using 'chantey' which I was led to believe was older, and it doesn't get so confused, 'shanty' having other meanings which may or may not be related. But like Linn I'm happy to see either. Plenty of other words have alternative spellings.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 18 Sep 14 - 12:50 PM

ONLY A SHANTY IN OLD SHANTY-TOWN

by Jerry Bryant

It's only a shanty in old shanty-town
Away you, Santee, and blow the man down.
Where Haul Away Joe goes down to Hilo
And Stormalong's drinkin' with Reuben Ranzo.
Shallow Brown, Hieland Laddie, and Jack's in cahoots,
And so we will pay Paddy Doyle for his boots,
And with Boney we'll roll that old woodpile on down
To a shanty in old shanty-town.

I'm not losing any sleep over the spelling of the word referring to maritime work songs. And I think most agree it's pronounced "shanty" at least since sailors' use of the term in the 1850s.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 17 Sep 14 - 11:07 AM

How about Jerry Bryant's ditty to the tune of (and parodying) "A Shanty In Old Shantytown"?

If I post the lyrics, it WON'T be from my iPad!

Linn


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Airymouse
Date: 17 Sep 14 - 09:35 AM

You guys are way over my head, but here are a few random thoughts:
I've heard "chaps" (the leather kind) called "shaps". Somebody above used the word "schism". That word has a really hard ch (to pronounce) because it's silent. "Schism" gives history buffs fits, but luckily they seem to be able to handle the silent ch in "fuchsia." Finger's book of songs collected in 1897 is called "Sailor Chanties and Cowboy Songs." "Welsh rarebit" like "Jaws Harp" goes back centuries, but my favorite entry in Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary is,
RAREBIT, n. A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit. To whom it must be solemnly explained that the comestible known as toad-in-the-hole is really not a toad, and that riz-de-veau a la financiere is not the smile of a calf prepared after the recipe of a she banker.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Sep 14 - 07:35 AM

Somewhere on this thread (or a similar one) is nineteenth-century evidence (unearthed by us) that "shanty/chantey" is indeed related to French "chanter."

So I've mostly switched my own spelling.

Not that it makes any real difference.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: GUEST,David C Kendall
Date: 17 Sep 14 - 06:50 AM

Well I'm going to have to join this group soon, because it's all just too interesting, and I thank you all for the lively debate, informative and entertaining. Having always heard and used the word pronounced as 'shantey' , I now live in France and I find that I am no longer a singer, but instead a chanteur, also pronounced in french with a 'sh'... I'm staying with the same pronunciation as always, with the assumption that 'chantey' is an adaptation of the french word 'chanson', which means 'song'... The french, by the way, have loads of sea chanties I would like to see eventually have better exposure in forums like these for their historical context at least. Thanks, all!


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jan 14 - 07:33 PM

Just been looking at the thread, "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town." One of the first songs I learned as a kid back in 1932 (nine years old).


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 14 Jan 14 - 05:17 PM

The lumberjack's "shanty" has been derived from French "chantier" ( = work-site, camp) as well.

Believe it or not, the form /chantierman/ (sounds like "shantyman") appears in print at least a couple times, in reference to the lumbermen. IIRC, one instance makes a note about their particular musicality, and another brings up the word to show how French had been creolized (up North), the combo of a French word and an English morpheme.

I have so far rejected this information, as not particularly useful to the study of work-songs, however. There just aren't enough ties to context.

I have not rejected the possibility that "chantyman" is creolized French from another locale, or the possibility that the "chanty" component of it may derive from some familiar word like chantier (= dock) or chanteur (= singer) - e.g. to construct something like "singer-man" or "dock-man." To accept the latter as a possibility, it helps to consider my observation that "chantyman" may have been the word from which "chanty" is derived, rather than the other way around, and to remember that the first chantymen were stevedores.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Jan 14 - 01:28 PM

The only connections I have come across connecting the hut and the song are Doerflinger's book title and the claim of the songs sung by West Indian's when moving a shanty. I don't think there is a musical connection between the lumberjacks and seamen. Some men may have been involved in both trades but not using a musical connection.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 14 Jan 14 - 11:34 AM

Shanty, as would be defined as a dwelling, derives from the Gaelic "seann-taigh" (old house) pronounced something like "shawn-tie". Lumberwoods were heavily populated by Irish and Scotch Gaelic speakers using the words for the crude camps where they stayed while cutting logs throughout the winter. From that they came to be called shantymen, and although music and song was a vibrant part of their culture the term shanty may be simply a homonym to a sea chant.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 14 Jan 14 - 07:42 AM

A bit of humor/humour related to this thread!

shanty man or chanty man


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Jan 14 - 10:38 PM

Steve,

That's just the sort of question that I personally find interesting, too.

To be somewhat pedantic: I don't think there were too many things ~like~ "Cheer'ly Man." I would argue that it was almost in a class of its own. I think it was a rather innovative English/Anglo-American song, and that, as a shipboard work-song, it may have helped paved the way / set the ground (choose your metaphor) for the adoption of "chanties" on ships. (Embedded in that statement is my own belief that "chanties" as a genre did not originate on sailing vessels.) A "theory" of mine is that "Cheer'ly Man" was rather exclusively "attached" to its work task - that is, it was the primary, "go to" song used when singing was in order during those (hauling) tasks, rather than one incidental example of many songs of a particular type.

Anyway: Giving it a quick scan, most of the accounts of "Cheer'ly Man" in that early period (by no means limited to British accounts) call it a "song."

There are some other terms for various shipboard vocalizations, but it gets complicated. For example, it appears that French sailors did indeed use the word "chant" at one point in the 18th c.

The related interesting question is how/why did sailors eventually - or at least *some* sailors (because there is also the very nit-picky question of whether writers give a skewed perception) - start calling the work-songs "chanty". Even though I personally distinguish "Cheer'ly Man" as something belonging to a different category than what I would label a "chanty," there is much that I *would* label "chanty" that, nonetheless, is only described as "song" until late 1860s.

I believe that the lingo of "chanty" was borrowed from stevedores, and I think (I have evidence to support this somewhere, but it's too complicated to work out right now!) that the term "chantyman" had greater currency before "chanty." That is, the idea of a working song at sea was not new, though the concept of a masterful song-leader, in the style of Black American work gangs who retained such a specialist, was more novel. And so, the term "chantyman" became familiar to sailors as the person in those role in stevedore gangs, although at first what the chantyman and his crew sang were simply "songs."   

On a gratuitous side note: My feeling - enhanced by the times I have visited those places - is that New Orleans and Mobile (previously French part of Alabama) were such unique and amazing places that most people that have thought about chanties perhaps do not fully appreciate. I certainly have trouble doing so, beyond a vague "sense." When one stands in "Congo Square" - that unique meeting place that some people credit to the birth of all sorts of influential African-American musical forms - or when one walks around the French Quarter, with its buildings that feel (to me) like one could be on an island in the Caribbean... it's its own little world. The uniqueness and complexity of this world is easily overlooked when one tackles the broad concepts of "chanties" and "sailors" and "ships" etc. in the way that "we" have tended to do so, based on the various associations we've inherited having to do with those concepts.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Jan 14 - 02:55 PM

I'm very thankful for all of your researches, Gibb. Until solid evidence to counteract it comes up I'm quite happy to accept the French connection in the Gulf area and its spread from there.

I'd be interested to know what the people who described the early British accounts of things like 'Cheerly Man' called them.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jan 14 - 02:50 PM

Whatever happened to shanty Irish?

Or lace curtain Irish, for that matter.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Jan 14 - 02:37 PM

You're correct, Steve, there is no problem as regards functioning nowadays... aside from the irksomeness of searching for "shanty" and getting results for other things, or the often encountered need to add the word "sea" to clarify "shanty." (By the way, I'm not being sarcastic!)

So yes, the interest in spellings presents mainly a historical/historian's "problem."

Terry, who very formally advocated for the adoption of "sh" spelling, was also the person to put forward the idea that "Maybe shanties come from people moving huts in the Caribbean." As someone interested in the historical development of the genre, I would like to be able to assess the likelihood of such a theory.

I think if Terry had all the information that "we" have now, he'd have had to dismiss his theory. But he didn't, and in fact another issues of spelling (the rejection of French) helped drive Terry towards the idea. So now Terry's idea stays there in books and people continue to consider it as the plausible explanation of an expert.

One of the key "mysteries" of chanty history is how, in Nordhoff's late 1840s account of cotton-screwers, the "chant" and "chanty-man" were pronounced - especially since "chanty" does not turn up after that until 1867 on a New York ship. Had Nordhoff used the spelling "sh", then we could be sure about the pronunciation.
Unless we want to assume that he meant "ch" as "church" and that the pronunciation changed by 1868 - an assumption that has problems with it - we must guess that Nordhoff chose "ch" to represent "shingle" sound for a good reason. The reason may have had something to do with a French influence in the environment that bore chanties (or other reasons).
Some reformers advocating for "sh" were not aware of Nordhoff's account, etc, and they assumed that later writers - not as knowledgeable as themselves about "sea stuff" - had created a fanciful spelling.
So, spelling has very much to do with both locating the "flow" of the development of chanties in the early years, and with shaping the discourse produced by those who mediated the genre (e.g. change to "sh" is a small part of making the genre appear more "English"). It has little to do with how you or I function nowadays...though a little awareness of it wouldn't *hurt* for when we read the literature on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Shanty or Chantey?
From: Lighter
Date: 13 Jan 14 - 09:49 AM

> but there is no problem to solve.

Hasn't stopped us yet.

The ultra-pedantic problem, however, is whether "shanty/ chantey" derives immediately from English "chant," French "chantez/chanter" or English "shanty."

The evidence shows that we can reasonably rule out the last.

Spelling and pronunciation only became an issue because chantey collectors cringed when they heard landlubbers say "tchanty." But now that the "shanty" pronunciation is well established, and the songs themselves in no immediate danger of being lost forever, I think we can afford to be more tolerant.


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