SPINNAKER.

In looking up something else, my eye fell (as it will) on an adjacent word, in this case spinnaker, and I thought the etymology (that it was from a yacht named the Sphinx) might make a good post. Then I checked Wikipedia and found that was only one entry in the etymological sweepstakes; here’s the full discussion:

Some dictionaries suggest that the origin of the word could be traced to the first boat to commonly fly a spinnaker, a yacht called the Sphinx, mispronounced as Spinx. The Sphinx first set her spinnaker in the Solent in 1865, and the first recorded use of the word was in 1866 in the August edition of Yachting Calendar and Review (p. 84). In addition, the term may have been influenced by the spanker, originally a gaff rigged fore-and-aft sail.
It has been pointed out, however, that the skippers of the barges on the Thames … also used the term spinnaker for their jib staysails. Unlike the other, tanned sails of these boats, the spinnakers were usually of white color. It has thus been suggested that the term could be “connected with the obsolete word spoon, meaning to run before the wind (cf. spindrift).” Early usage of the verb to spoon can be traced back to the 16th century; the change from spoon to spin in the term spindrift is attributed to a local Scottish pronunciation. According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, however, spindrift derives from a local Scottish pronunciation of speen (not spoon), meaning “to drive before a strong wind.”
Furthermore, references to a mid-nineteenth century origin are problematic. In the logbook of the USS Constitution, opening “Remarks on Board Monday July 13th 1812″ is the comment “From 12 to 4 AM moderate breezes and thick cloudy weather with rain at 1 AM hauled up the mainsail and set the spinnaker at ½ past 3 AM set the mainsail JTS [John T. Shubrick, Fifth Lieutenant].”
According to Merriam-Webster’s etymology, the origin of the word spinnaker is simply unknown.

If that 1812 cite is accurate, the Sphinx idea is obviously dead in the water.

Comments

  1. “the Sphinx idea is obviously dead in the water” – maybe not, if those apparently FTL neutrinos are for real :)

  2. Doesn’t that citation seem a little thin? The Constitution’s escape from a British squadron at the beginning of the War of 1812 is a highpoint of American Naval History. The logbooks have been available in microform since the ’70s.

  3. my eye fell (as it will) on an adjacent word
    Mister Hat, you should discipline your eye.
     
    Le Petit Robert suggests that the word spinnaker appeared in a text written in French in 1878, which is not very long after the first attestation in English mentioned in the article (1866). Very often “un spinnaker” is called “un spi”, which takes less time to shout when you need to quickly bring the damn thing on the deck before it goes under the hull.
    You have the spinnaker, but also the gennaker, an asymmetrical light sail which is a cross between a spinnaker and a genoa. (The genoa is the biggest jib on board and it is named after the city, since light winds are apparently common in the Golfo di Genova, thus the need for a big sail. In French this type of sail is “un génois” (lower case), while “une génoise” is a type of cake.)
    The spinnaker is also called “un foc ballon”, i.e. a “balloon jib”. The “foc ballon” has nothing to do with a phoque (seal) playing with a ball. It comes from the Dutch word fok, or focke, (cognate with middle low German vocke and German Fock), which both Larousse and TLF give as equivalent to misaine, the lowest main sail on the fore-mast.
    It can be noted that there is a sailing competition in Brittany called the Spi Ouest-France. Since French people tend to pronounce “fok” the word “fuck” — for a reason unknown to me —, it is fortunate that the sail chosen to make the race’s name has been the spinnaker and not the jib.

  4. misaine, the lowest main sail on the fore-mast.
    Can there be any main sails on the foremast? I thought that “main sail” meant the big sail on the mainmast, while the corresponding sail on the foremast would be the foresail.

  5. On another note of marvelous confusion: French “misaine” somehow became English “mizzen”. In French it is a sail on the foremast, in front of the mainmast. In English it is not on the foremast, nor on the mainmast either, but rather on the third mast, the one behind the mainmast. And, according to etymonline, in its progress from front to back it was somehow influenced by an Italian word meaning “middle”.

  6. the spinnaker and not the jib

    Ah, the etymology of the jib doesn’t seem to be much clearer than that of the spinnaker.
    Thefreedictionary.com:

    jib.
    1. Nautical A triangular sail stretching from the foretopmast head to the jib boom and in small craft to the bowsprit or the bow.
    [Origin unknown.]

    The SOED does mention something, but with a question mark before: “? abbrev. of gibbet, as being hung from the mast-head.”
    However, when it comes to the verb to jib (“to pull (a sail or yard) round from one side of a vessel to the other, as in tacking, etc.”), which is probably related to the noun, the same dictionary says “etymology obscure”.

  7. influenced by an Italian word meaning “middle”
    The word mezzo by any chance?
     
    Can there be any main sails on the foremast?
    Well, check sail No. 5 on this illustration. Okay, the mainsail might be a specific sail (“la grand-voile”, without any -e at grand despite voile being feminine), but wouldn’t it be possible to talk of the main sail on a given mast which is not the mainmast?

  8. Siganus: “la grand-voile”: historically “grand” in French was uninflected for gender. Other Romance languages preserve this original distinction between adjectives which inflect for gender and those which do not. Thus, in Italian, BIANCO “white” (masculine) has a feminine BIANCA, whereas GRANDE “tall, great” is both masculine and feminine.
    Italian preserves what was the Late Latin/Early Romance system: masculine singular adjectives in
    -E were uninflected for gender, whereas masculine singular adjectives in -O, in the feminine singular, end in -A.
    In the transition from Late Latin to Old French (and some neighboring Romance languages), however, final vowels as a rule were lost (hence French BLANC and GRAND corresponding to Italian BIANCO and GRANDE), while final -A became schwa, spelled -E.
    As a result, in Old French some masculine adjectives formed their feminine with -E, and others did not. But unlike what we find in Italian, there no longer was any way to predict, on the basis of the masculine singular form, whether a given adjective had a separate feminine form in -E or not: GRAND was the same for masculine and feminine, but BLANC had a feminine BLANCHE. This explains the “grand” in “grand-voile”, “grand-mère”…
    In the passage from Old to Modern French the “problem” (i.e. how to predict which adjectives take feminine -E and which did not) was solved by extending the feminine marker -E to all masculine adjectives, thereby creating (for example) a feminine form GRANDE.

  9. Eric Newby’s The Last Grain Race describes his experiences on one of the last commercial square-riggers bringing wheat from Australia to Britain in 1939. The ship was Swedish-owned, so he had to learn the Swedish names for all the sails and lines.
    According to his description, the foresail (“fock”) seemed to turn up frequently in conversations among the sailors.

  10. I know nothing about marine matters, but the frequent occurrence here of the word foc/fock reminded me of the German ship Gorch Fock (the first version is shown here). The last link says the ship was named after the writer Johann Wilhelm Kinau, who published under the name Gorch Fock. Gorch is said to be a Plattdeutsch form of George, whereas Fock is “einer Linie von großelterlichen Vorfahren entlehnt“. Did these ancestors, or simply Kinau himself, take their name from the name of the sail ?

  11. could it be from spin – spinmaker, as this comment from French wikipedia suggests:
    Sceptiques quant à sa stabilité, les spectateurs auraient déclaré « It is going to make her spin » (cela va faire chavirer le bateau), d’où l’appellation spinmaker, puis spinnaker.

  12. Sig: A sailor would object strenuously if we used the word “main” in that way.
    The largest and most important mast of the ship is called the mainmast. The mast in front of it is the foremast. The mast behind is the mizzenmast.
    The largest and most important (and lowest) sail on the mainmast can be called the mainsail, and the others above it on the same mast also have “main” in their names: maintopsail, maintopgallant, and so on.
    The largest and most important (and lowest) mast on the foremast can be called the foresail, and the others on the same mast have “fore” in their names: foretopsail, foretopgallant, and so on.

  13. In Sig’s illustration there is also the word “fougue”, in the names of sails which in English would have “mizzen” in their names. (At the opposite end from the various sails with “foc” in their names.)

  14. I’m familiar with фок [fok] ‘foresail’ in Russian, which of course got it from Dutch.

  15. I refuse to believe in sailors gratuitously adding syllables to the name of a sail: these are words you have to yell into the wind. So I’d call an origin in sphinx or spanker improbable even if the historical evidence supported it.
    It’s just gotta be Dutch. It feels Dutch, and who else would come up with such a squeeze-the-last-drop-out-of-the-wind sail?
    I vote for some low German phrase meaning “spine-shaker,” or “spine-acher” or something like that. Those things jerk a damn boat around. Unless there’s some “sp-” word for kite that I don’t know.

  16. This misaine-mizzen business is no weirder than the fact that entree in American English is not the first course but the main course. Or that a la mode means ‘served with ice cream’. Or au naturel in the sense ‘nude, unclothed’. Or peignoir in the sense of robe de chambre. Or boutonnière meaning a flower in the buttonhole rather than the buttonhole itself. Or the strongly negative implications of recherché in English. Or nostalgie de la boue, which was apparently invented by an Englishman (the phrase, not the emotion), though yearning for the mud seems a lot more expressive to me. There are quite a lot of others.

  17. “nostalgie de la bout” … was apparently invented by an Englishman (the phrase, not the emotion), though “yearning for the mud” seems a lot more expressive to me.
    Heh. I learned that phrase from a Guardian review that described *me* as “alert to any whiff” of it. I’m alert to any whiff of whaaa?

    A dutiful reporter, Salant is alert to any whiff of nostalgie de la boue : “What I enjoyed even more, though, was the seediness of the motel.”

    Of course, I’ve been using it casually ever since — and will continue to do so, expressiveness be damned!

  18. …Next time, the Guardian‘s going to be reviewing you as à la mode.
    nostalgie de la boue, which was apparently invented by an Englishman
    Not according to this, John:

    The French phrase, meaning literally ‘mud nostalgia’, was coined by the French poet and dramatist Émile Augier (1820–89), in Le Mariage d’Olympe (1855). In response to the comment that a duck placed on a lake with swans will miss his pond and eventually return to it, the character Montrichard replies, ‘La nostalgie de la boue! [Longing to be back in the mud!’]

  19. That’s great! I always vaguely wondered about that phrase, and the origin turns out to be better than I could have imagined.

  20. Nostalgie de la boue is also a longing to which retired lady wrestlers are prone.
    Here is Esther Pasztory, professor of Pre-Columbian art history, experiencing the self-referential double-take that crops up in the best sociological writing, in my opinion:

    “Nostalgie de la boue” means ascribing higher spiritual values to people and cultures considered “lower” than oneself, the romanticization of the faraway primitive which is also the equivalent of the lower class close to home. I have been submerged in such ideas since I was born and am just getting my head out of the waters. My parents romanticized Hungarian folk culture — my father photographed and published peasant architecture, my mother wore folk dresses, my uncle and father promoted native handicrafts in the weaving workshops they organized in the 1930′s. I went much further in romanticizing the seemingly most unromantic Aztecs, leaping across an ocean, a continent and five centuries in revalidation.

    … I have recently read Cecelia Klein’s excellent and as yet unpublished article criticizing the excessively romantic use of the term “shamanism” in Pre-Columbian studies, which I could not have done better myself. She mentioned my 1982 critique in which I argued that shamanism belonged to simple hunter-gatherer societies and the term should not be applied to stratified agricultural ones. I objected to the then-wholesale application of the term “shaman” to almost any religious specialist. I thought it was ludicrous to consider shamans the only creative artists par excellence.

    … do Cecelia, myself, and countless other scholars imagine that we can contain the primitivist forces in our society by impeccable scholarship? Are we not trying to put genies back into bottles? Have we ever asked why we are involved in the scholarly studies of shamanism in the first place? Do we try to do anything other than manage and control the concept and is not our fascination as great in its way as that of the naive drummer or even the much maligned Eliade?

  21. Next time, the Guardian’s going to be reviewing you as à la mode.
    That’ll be my wife, pal. I am not an ice cream man, or a chef of any sort, or a business man — I just happen, for the time being, to own an ice cream shop (and take a big part in its day-to-day). I am not an ice cream man. I am not an ice cream man.
    But yeah, that etymology is great.
    I am not an ice cream man.

  22. I’m really sorry I made fun of your hard work, the temptation to be a smartass was just overwhelming once I saw the possibility. Please feel free to make jokes about me.

  23. Nothing wrong with ice cream on top. It’s the apple pie underneath that is offensive.

  24. Oh, I didn’t take any offense at all, Crown — you never need worry about that. All I was trying to say, and lightly, is that my wife and I are focusing on her career now but that, long term, or even mid-term, I don’t plan on giving up on mine; it’s just often hard to remember plans, or have faith in them — even when they’re going as planned — amidst life. My intended career, BTW, involves writing. Or some sort.

  25. OF some sort, that is.

  26. My intended career, BTW, involves writing.
    He’s so modest.

  27. … do Cecelia, myself, and countless other scholars imagine that we can contain the primitivist forces in our society by impeccable scholarship? Are we not trying to put genies back into bottles? Have we ever asked why we are involved in the scholarly studies of shamanism in the first place? Do we try to do anything other than manage and control the concept and is not our fascination as great in its way as that of the naive drummer or even the much maligned Eliade?
    Stu, is this paragraph not perfectly lame? I don’t see any interesting parallel, just some clumsily expressed insecurity about the author’s chosen profession. By and large scholars don’t imagine they’re changing the world with forceful strokes; but obviously scholarship is still of some value. I mean, c’mon. Is there something subtle (or obvious) I’m missing?

  28. it’s just often hard to remember plans, or have faith in them — even when they’re going as planned — amidst life.
    I hear you talking, Jim. However, my tendency in such circumstances has usually been to give life the benefit of the doubt, and change my plans. In this way I never get what I need, but always what I want.

  29. I don’t see any interesting parallel, just some clumsily expressed insecurity about the author’s chosen profession. By and large scholars don’t imagine they’re changing the world with forceful strokes; but obviously scholarship is still of some value.
    Maybe the quote doesn’t make as much sense out of context as I had hoped. In the article, she says effectively that 1) people have always been trying to make sense out of things beyond their control, 2) scholars do the same thing, but 3) at least scholars could benefit from thinking about this from time to time.
    The job of scholars is thinking about thinking, so occasionally to think about their own thinking is not too much to expect of them. If they can think down (nostalgie de la boue), they can think up. This doesn’t imply that they should have a different job.

  30. It’s all about ice cream, I see now.

  31. maidhc:
    I believe the ship Newby worked on was from the Aland Islands, a Swedish-speaking autonomous Baltic archipelago belonging to Finnland. Not that I’ve read the book; I absorbed this snippet of info reading about the islands.

  32. This doesn’t imply that they should have a different job.
    No, of course not. I’m happy to take your word about the paragraph being better in context, and your points (1,2 and 3) all look sensible from down here.

  33. my tendency in such circumstances has usually been to give life the benefit of the doubt
    life has been fucking with me for too long to get anything on spec; I need something in writing, and that need is turning me into a madman.

  34. David Marjanović says:

    This explains the “grand” in “grand-voile”, “grand-mère”…

    …Grand-Rue, the name of the main street in all French villages that are too small to have a halfway convincing Avenue du Général Leclerc.

  35. Eh, I guess I remembered wrong. I should have checked. So what is the French phrase that, although grammatical and all that, is in fact used only in English because it was invented by an English person?
    Not, at any rate, Miss Meteyard in Dorothy Sayers’s Murder Must Advertise:

    “[...] There is a nostalgie de la banlieue as well as de la boue. And you’re pulling my leg, Mr. Death Bredon, because you know that as well as I do.”

    Given the context, this must refer to anglophone notions of suburbia, not modern francophone ones.

  36. JC: there’s crise de foi (not foie !) – we had a discussion here about that earlier this year, or last year. Didn’t marie-lucie remark that crise de la foi sounds more natural to her ?
    But that’s not the one you’re thinking of, which I can’t remember either.

  37. Tom Recht says:

    Nom de plume?

  38. Tom Recht says:

    Or double entendre, legerdemain, succès de scandale? Wikipedia naturally has a list.

  39. Most of the ones on the Wikipedia list are archaic French of one kind or another: Norman, Parisian, Law-(Anglo-)French. I may have been thinking of nom de plume, which, it seems, really was unknown in French until borrowed from English around 1970.
    Which reminds me:
    How bitter was Joseph’s existence
    When he found that his girl friend’s insistence
    Meant that he’d have to wed her
    Before he could bed her:
    She was simply a piece de resistance.
         —Isaac Asimov

  40. I only very recently discovered that in AmE “a la mode” means “with ice-cream”. “Boeuf a la mode” must confuse visiting Americans immensely. “Cul de sac” – Wikipedia suggests this English-coined expression for a short no-through-road is also used in French, although I was always told it wasn’t.

  41. Nom de plume?
    That’s the one I had in mind. I think plume de ma tante, nom de guerre and ma tante plume guère are acceptably French, but not nom d’un nom d’un nom.

  42. French villages that are too small to have a halfway convincing Avenue du Général Leclerc
    David, Saint-Denis-de-la-Réunion has a “rue du maréchal Leclerc”. It hosts the most active shops and retails in the city, but the most prestigious street in town is the “rue de Paris”.
     
    Étienne, in Reunion Island (again) there is a cove called Grand(e)-Anse. Because the word anse starts with a vowel, it is hard to tell whether the name is “Grand-Anse” — like the village of “Grand-Baie” in a nearby island — or “Grande-Anse”. Both spellings can be found, though “Grand-Anse” might be more ancient.
     
    Empty, shame on me, I should have said “the lowest largest sail on the fore-mast”.
    Incidentally, on Mars “main” is the word used in Creole or French to talk of the water pipe that comes from the street, and “délo main” or “l’eau du main” is the water that comes directly from the public distribution network, as opposed to the water that might have been stored in a tank. (Water cuts are a daily concern for Martians, who often need to have means of storing water at home and elsewhere — check the url at the signature.)

  43. I forgive you, Sig.
    In English we have water mains, but I don’t believe that water from the main is called main water.
    In “Over the bounding main”, it’s water, but that’s different. And “main” is short for “mainland”, so go figure.

  44. It’s certainly called mains water in England.

  45. Here it’s usually called tap water, although that would also cover the running water in a house that draws its supply from a well.
    I rarely hear water mains mentioned except when they break.

  46. Trond Engen says:

    I rarely hear water mentioned except in passing.

  47. What, you mention water when you pass it? How uncivilized!

  48. David Marjanović says:

    rue du maréchal Leclerc

    Huh. That’s new to me. Isn’t the same person, is it?

  49. Trond Engen says:

    Sind die Menschen in Passing unzivilisierten?

  50. Apparently it is; per Wikipedia: “Two streets in Paris are named for Leclerc: Avenue du Général Leclerc in the 14th arrondissement and Rue du Maréchal Leclerc in the 12th arrondissement, between the Bois de Vincennes and the Marne River.” He was made Marshal of France posthumously in 1952.

  51. Siganus: Do you know how the consonant before the “Ance” in “Grand-Ance” is pronounced? d or t? If it is the former, then I assume it should be “Grande-Ance”, and if the latter, “Grand-Ance”

  52. I once passed Lake Nipissing. It’s in Ontario.

  53. Trond Engen says:

    Well, ni- is a Norwegian verbal prefix meaning “extremely strongly” (from nið- “mockery, insult, derision”).

  54. I don’t think there’s any connection to The knights who say “Ni”, although Terry Jones subsequently wrote a book about the Vikings (or something).

  55. John Emerson says:

    I have an internet friend at Nipissing U. It’s nickname is Nip U.

  56. Ah, so that’s why people in the Poul Anderson story are “called nithings before the folk”.
    I can’t find Passing on my map, but the people in Fucking are civilized enough to keep replacing their signs.

  57. Trond Engen says:

    Pass…? Ow! I picked the wrong affix and ended up staining myself. And there is no such thing as unnoticed Passing around here, apparently.

  58. Trond Engen says:

    (That dot looked a bit too dotty now. It’s nið- with long i.)
    “Shame” may be a better translation for the meaning behind the suffix.
    I wouldn’t rule out a Python connection. When Egill Skallagrímsson first landed in Norway, at the small island of Herdlevær northwest of Bergen, he made a níðstöng against king Eirikr blóðøx. He climbed a hill to raise a horsehead-on-a-pole and point it in the general direction of the king.
    I was at Herdlevær as a teenager with my father, preparing a geodetic surveying project for his students. When we climbed the highest hill on the island (25m — admittedly not that high), I suggested they marked the trig point with a horsehead.

  59. Eirikr blóðøx
    Why always the aggressiveness? Why is there no Eirik the Shopper, or Eirik Kind-To-Animals? Eirik the Librarian.

  60. Regarding the fiskarbondebygd ut mot storhavet, did you see that Scotland wants to dump England & Wales and apply to join Skandinavia?

  61. Trond Engen says:

    There’s Óláfr kyrri “Olaf the peaceful”. Nice guy, generally considered as the first Norwegian king who could read and write, official founder of Bergen, ruling the country for a generation. Snorri only gave him four pages of saga.
    I’ve seen the suggestion that Scotland seek membership in the Nordic Council for decades. It may be a little closer now that the nationalists are ruling Scotland, but I don’t think it’s important. The Nordic Council has no power and no policy of its own. Joining would be a symbolic act, or rather: the suggestion is meant as a promise for the direction of development in Scotland after independence. And I’m not sure if it’s open for applications. There’s a strong sense of “united by a common heritage”, informally defined as welfare states, Lutheran churches and (important presence of) Scandinavian languages. The Baltic Countries have not joined as full members, not even Estonia with its bonds to Finland and its recent Swedish-speaking minority.

  62. Trond Engen says:

    minority. And I see that the link in my previous reply wasn’t properly closed.

  63. Fixed, and that’s a nice photo.

  64. Trond Engen says:

    It’s a 50 years old aerial photo toward the western end of the settlement and the North Sea, one of the very few online photos I found. Here’s a map. Nowadays, built even after my time there, there’s a huge oil-and-gas facility just a couple of kilometers to the south.

  65. That’s a nice map they’ve got nowadays at the norgeskart site. Finally they’ve got contours. I can even measure the m2 of our goathouse.

  66. Is that Waklnig the Viking?

  67. Is that Waklnig the Viking?
    This comment referred to some spam that has now been removed.

  68. Trond Engen says:

    Maybe someone’s writing those stupid spams as a bait, just to make us look stupid when Hat removes them.

  69. Trond Engen says:

    Or maybe Hat’s writing those stupid spams himself as a bait, just to make us look stupid when he removes them.

  70. Trond Engen says:

    The point is: Whenever I come through as stupid, it’s somebody else’s fault.

  71. Sorry—it’s a good idea to quote whatever spam you want to mock/admire/discuss, because I don’t check the threads before I fumigate.

  72. Trond Engen says:

    If I do that, and I still look stupid, who am I supposed to blame?

  73. Blame Canada.

  74. I’m telling marie-lucie you said that.

  75. Étienne: Do you know how the consonant before the “Ance” in “Grand-Ance” is pronounced? d or t?
    Hmm, that’s a good question. But which, alas, I cannot answer for I’m not Reunionese enough.
    It seems to me that before a vowel, or an h- that isn’t pronounced, the last letter of the adjective grand is pronounced [t], no? “Un grand homme” is [gʀɑ̃tɔm]; “ce grand imbécile” is [gʀɑ̃tε̃besil]; “un grand-angle” is [gʀɑ̃tɑ̃gl]; etc. Therefore if the adjective is written grande, we should hear a [d] sound and if it is written grand we should hear a [t] sound like in the Reunionese place name “Grand-Îlet” (a name that can be found in Guadeloupe as well). I shall try to ask some questions about the pronunciation of “Grand(e)-Anse”, a name that exists in Haiti and Grenada also, where it seems to be written without the -e, as opposed to the Grande-Anse found in your own country (in New Brunswick).
     
    AJP: It’s certainly called mains water in England.
    Very often it is written mains, with a final -s, even if there is one pipe only. On civil engineering drawings you would for instance find something labelled “sewer rising mains – Ø160″ where there is one pipe through which foul water is being pumped to a sewer treatment plant. I’ve often wondered about this -s that looks like a baffling plural, without ever having a satisfying answer.
     
    Back to the sails…
    LH: I’m familiar with фок [fok] ‘foresail’ in Russian
    What has just been read in Amitav Ghosh’s latest book:

    Knowing you as I do, I understand very well that your motives were wholly innocent when you congratulated the bosun for his fine works on the ship’s prow. But you should know, Puggly dear, that it is not wholly a matter for surprise that he was taken aback by your well-meant sally: I confess that I too would be quite astonished if a young lady of tender years were to felicitate me on my dexterity in ‘polishing the foc-stick.’ Far be it from me to reproach you for your spontaneity, Puggly dear, but you must not always assume that it is safe to transpose French expressions directly into English. The English equivalent of bâton-à-foc, for instance, is definitely not ‘foc-stick’ – it is ‘jib-boom’.
    And no, dear, nor were you well-advised to tell the baffled bosun that your intention was only to compliment him on his skill with ‘the mighty mast that protrudes from the front’. You should know, my dear Princesse de Pluggleville, that sometimes it is not wise to persist in explaining oneself.
    (Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke, page 207.)

    Despite what might be thought, the jib (foc) can be more slippery than the spinnaker.

  76. Oh, the French version of the Wikipedia article linked to above seems to go against what I have said:

    Grande-Anse (prononcer /gʁɑ̃.tɑ̃s/) est un village côtier canadien situé dans la région de la péninsule Acadienne et le comté de Gloucester, au Nouveau-Brunswick.

    I think there is something wrong there: if the name of the village is really pronounced [gʁɑ̃tɑ̃s], with a [t] sound, then it cannot be written “Grande-Anse” (a name which, by the way, seems to have been fairly popular among overseas French territories).

  77. I think there is something wrong there: if the name of the village is really pronounced [gʁɑ̃tɑ̃s], with a [t] sound, then it cannot be written “Grande-Anse”
    I think you meant to say “it should not be written.” Surely if there’s one thing we should all have learned by now, it’s that in the world of pronunciation and orthography, anything is possible.

  78. Sig: I’ve often wondered about this -s that looks like a baffling plural, without ever having a satisfying answer.
    I’m guessing that this usage comes from a situation where there’s a combined access manhole and tunnel for both a gas main and a water main and so they both together started to be called “the mains”.

  79. Hat: do please say hi to Stan, Kyle and Kenny the next time you see them.
    Siganus: my guess (it’s no more than that) is that the original spelling was in fact GRAND-ANSE, which was “modernized/corrected” at a later date, but without this change in spelling having any effect on pronunciation. Outside Quebec the influence of written/standard French was very weak until recently, so for this mismatch in pronunciation and spelling to persist in New Brunswick is unsurprising.

  80. That makes a lot of sense.

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