CHANTYMAN vs CHANTEYMAN?
On the Angelman-Davies plans sheets for the American Marine Chantyman trawler yacht, the name is frequently spelled both ways—Chantyman on one plan page and Chanteyman on another. The ad and spec sheets for the boat, as shown on this website, use the spelling “Chantyman.” Which is right? Keep reading!
What does Chantyman/Chanteyman mean?
One definition is found on taylormarine.com: “chantey, sea chantey—pronounced “shanty.” A song sung by professional seamen to pace their work. The chanteyman traditionally led the songs.”
In an article by Howard Hornstein excerpted from “Favorite Sea Songs of the Ancient Mariners Chanteymen”, he writes “Shanties (shanty) are work songs. This is spelled “chantey” or “chanty” if you happen to be a “proper Englishman” who believes the word may have “chant” as its origin. And it would be spelled “chantey” if it derived from the French command “Chantez!—sing”, cried the French soloist to mark the beginning of the chorus.” FYI, the Ancient Mariners Chanteymen perform at the annual Mystic Seaport Seamusic Festival!
Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged, 2nd Edition defines the words chanty and chantey. Chantey would seem to be their preferred spelling since “chanty” is defined as a “chantey.”
“Chantey (noun) a song that sailors sing when working, to enliven the work by marking rhythm.”
“Chanty (noun) (plural-chanties) a chantey.”
“Origin of Navy Terminology” published by the U.S. Navy Naval Historical Center, defines sea chanties as “songs sung in the days of sail by crews as they worked at heaving the lines or turning the capstan. The songs’ rhythms caused everyone to push or pull simultaneously, hence causing a concerted effort and better results.” “One man, the chanty-man, stood high above the working crew and sang the main lines while the rest of the crew added their voices strongly on the second line. On the last word, a combined pull made the ropes “come home.” A good chanty-man was highly prized by officers and crew alike. Although he had no official title or rate, he was usually relieved of all duties to compose new verses for sea chanties.”
According to “Origin of Navy Terminology” there is even another old spelling for the sea songs—shanties, allegedly “referring to shanties along the Mobile, AL waterfront where many of the tunes were learned by sailors.” Also “some believe the term chanty is a derivation of the French word “chanter” which means “to sing.”
Therefore, there is really no right spelling; both Chantyman and Chanteyman are correct!
In this website, we have chosen to spell the word “Chanteyman” with the “ey.” We have listed both spellings for search engines to direct people to the website.
**There are many “sea shanty/chanty/chantey” websites. 318,000 results on Google! A favorite website is www.arrr.net/shanties/ which has many dozens of songs categorized by area of the ship!
Other websites have sea shanty performances on MP3 files so you can hear the tune as well as the lyrics. John Phillip Sousa, the March King, even wrote a march in 1918 “The Chantyman’s March—Founded on Working Songs of the Sea.”