"lanechtskipt" < "langnekschip"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Nov 12 23:22:39 UTC 2013

With compliments to Dan Goncharoff, who wrote:  "
Thought from left field -- could "Lanecht--skipt" be "long-neck
ship-(of-the-desert)" ".  (I discard his suggestion of "giraffe").

I now hypothesize "langnekschip" as the origin
for "lanechtskipt".  The scenario:

A Dutch sea captain brought a camel to the
entrepôt of Boston, and sold it to a Bostonian
for exhibition.  The captain described it as a
"langnek schip van de woestijn" ("long-necked
ship of the desert"), employing the then-common
metaphor.  Burlesson perhaps wanted in the 1730s
to pretend what he then had was the first of its
kind, and needing to choose a name other than
"camel" simplified to "langnekschip" by omitting
the prepositional phrase.  When he presented his
petition orally to Bromfield, he slurred the
pronunciation, and it got transcribed as
"lanechtskipt" -- "langnek" pronounced "lannekt"
("ng-n" into "n-n") and "schip" pronounced
"skipt" (both parts being pronounced with a hard C and a suffixed "-t" sound).


My Dutch correspondent writes, with respect to
perhaps the most problematic pronunciation
question:  "The skip/schip change is more than
plausible, as one of the Dutch dialects still
does that -- as a matter of fact it is one of the
fishing/sailing areas (around the island of Urk -- I didn't make that up!)."

I assume that Burlesson used "lanechtskipt" only
in the early 1730s.  In the 1721 and 1739
advertisements, the only years before 1789 that
camels were advertised, it was called a "camel".

"Nek" is one word for "neck" in Dutch, although
"hals" may be more common today.

The transcriber, being more familiar with German
than Dutch, took what he heard as "ekt" and spelled it "echt".

The variety of camel exhibited was almost
certainly the dromedary.  The 1721 camel "arrived
from Africa", the 1739 camel came "from the
Deserts of Arabia", both areas of
dromedaries.  (The Bactrian is native to central
Asia, and is much rarer.)  Dromedaries have long
enough necks to be described as "long-necked".

Finally, one does not have to suppose that
"lanechtskipt" is a mistranscription from the
manuscript; it could have been what was actually written.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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