June 1, 2015

Spelling for nautical dummies

JUST AS THERE ARE people who can’t spell yacht (yatch, yahct, yacth, etc.) there are those who can’t spell dinghy. It’s dinghy, for Pete’s sake, not dingy. Like yacht, it has a silent h.

It’s an interesting word. Hindi, actually. Or derived from Hindi, anyway. In India, a dengi or dingi was originally a small boat used on rivers.  It started off as a small open rowing boat, usually lapstrake construction, with one pair of oars.

In many parts of the world it was general workboat for warships and freighters, and later became what we know it best for, the tender to a yacht. Toward the butt end of the 19th century some dinghies were being built with partial decks, masts, centerboards, and rudders, and were used for racing under sail.

It wasn’t until after World War I that dinghy racing became really popular, however. A lot of that popularity sprung from the success of the International 14-foot class and some national 12-foot classes.

After World War II there was an enormous growth in all kinds of pleasure boating, resulting in literally hundreds of different dinghy racing classes, spawning national and international championships, including the Olympic Games.

So, okay, whatever else you do, remember it’s dinghy, not dingy, which means something else. Spelling lesson over for the day. Homework: look up the meaning of crepuscular. You’ll be amazed. I was, anyway.

Today’s Thought
Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.
— Mark Twain

From a book catalog:
“First edition, profusely illustrated — ‘Unconventional Sex Practices’ — spine cracked, appendix torn. $75.”



Kevin Vigor said...

An opportunity for my joke du jour:

Why can't you hear a pterodactyl in the bathroom?

Because it has a silent 'P'.

You're welcome.

John Vigor said...

Ah, just like the silent P in bath.

You're also welcome.


Tom Sailor said...

Ha! I like pterodactyl. Can I use it on my kids?
Going back to spelling dinghy, I was recently hauled over by a local government ranger who claimed that my dinghy was "unsecure". He tested this by ramming his size 10 boot against her bow and shoving her sideways. (Grrrr!) Anyway, while he was writing out the ticket he wrote dingy. Oh if only I could have issued a citizen's arrest for poor spelling and abuse of a sailing boat.

John said...

"sprang", not "sprung".

John Vigor said...

Hi John, yes you're right. Spring, sprang, sprung. Spring sprang and has sprung. Da grass is riz. I wonder where da boidies is.