The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140533 Message #3231074
Posted By: Lighter
29-Sep-11 - 09:50 AM
Thread Name: New evidence for 'shanty' origins?
Subject: RE: New evidence for 'shanty' origins?
Charley, no current authoritative dictionary accepts "sean tigh" as the origin of "shanty."
Back in 1968, A. J. Bliss of University College, Dublin, showed that the "derivation" is hard to believe, partly because "sean tigh" is completely ungrammatical and wouldn't sound much like "shanty" anyway.
Furthermore, the relevant Irish term, "sean-teach" means "old house," period. (It sounds roughly like "shankhikh.") As Bliss points out, a "shanty" in Canada didn't mean an "old house" originally, but a log cabin built specially for work crews. These were called "shanties" even while they were still going up. In contrast, the Canadian French "chantier," the accepted origin of the log "shanty," carries exactly the same technical meaning as the loggers' word.
Tipping the scales further in the direction of French is the fact that "shanty" was Canadian English decades before the major wave of immigration from Connaught in 1848. The French, of course, had been there for centuries.
The connection of slum-style "shanties" with the Irish comes even later.