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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar What does 'Hal an Tow' mean? (89* d) RE: What does 'Hal an Tow' mean? 19 Apr 08


Hmmmm...

Even without bothering myself with the facts, my immediate reaction just looking at the thread title in a forum in which sea shanties are a significant part of the shared interes (and living as I curently do in the Low Countries, from which so much nautical English comes) was that Haul and Tow was probably a mondeverdant anglicisation of the Dutch "Haal an 't touw" (pull on the rope), and that it was a phrase from a sea shanty.

One of the frustrating things about folk culture and the process that linguists deride as "folk etymology" is that it's easy to surmise but hard to prove anything. Wouldn't it be nice to imagine that a whole school of "heel and toe" dancing might have sprung from a misunderstanding of a foreign phrase?


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