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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:36 am 
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The OED's derivation of "shanty" from French "chantier" makes a lot more sense, since they place it in Canada in the early 19th century and there seems to be no earlier usage. If it had been derived from Gaelic it should have been around centuries before that, and should have been known more widely.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:09 pm 
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JackCampin wrote:
The OED's derivation of "shanty" from French "chantier" makes a lot more sense, since they place it in Canada in the early 19th century and there seems to be no earlier usage. If it had been derived from Gaelic it should have been around centuries before that, and should have been known more widely.


Not necessarily. There were a lot of Irish immigrants in Canada at that time as well...and "shanty" is a direct phonetic pronunciation of the Irish "sean tí."

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:29 am 
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There is a sociological reason why Canadian settlers would have wanted a word specifically for a workers' bothy at that time, and for them getting the word from French. There is no particular reason for a word getting transferred from Irish then rather than at any other time, particularly when what it was first used to refer to (not just any old hut) is so close to the meaning of the French word.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:18 pm 
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Michael Quinion makes a compelling argument in agreement with Jack:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/topicalwords/tw-sha1.htm

As regards the word meaning a shelter, apparently it was first recorded in Ohio, and shortly after that in Canada, prior to the great influx of immigrant Irish workers. Either way, dated recorded evidence doesn't support an Irish origin for it even though the Irish "old house" meaning fits the sound of it so well.

I too grew up with the folk etymology that "shanty" came directly from the Irish.

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