Gauntlet/Gantlet
Posted: 24 September 2012 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In a Merriam-Webster entry (for an unrelated word) they used the word ‘gantlet,’ which was new to me.  Went googling to learn more.  Seems that ‘gantlet’ used to be used in the US, but has now been overtaken by ‘gauntlet,’ with the possible exception of its application in a technical railroad sense.  My initial reaction was that gauntlets may have been one of the weapon used to strike those running the gantlet and, as a result, the words became synonymous in the ‘running the gauntlet,’ sense.  However, one of the sites referenced says, “It would be natural to assume that gauntlets were used in the beatings and that ‘running the gauntlet’ derived from that. In fact, that’s not the case and neither the punishment nor the phrase have anything to do with gauntlets, either military or horticultural.” Anyone out there (either side of the pond) still use gantlet, even on the railroads?

More: 

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-gan1.htm

http://grammarist.com/usage/gantlet-gauntlet/

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/run-the-gauntlet.html

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Posted: 24 September 2012 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I see it from time to time. And most usage manuals will include it, usually with the note that both gantlet and gauntlet are considered correct in the phrase.

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Posted: 24 September 2012 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Gauntlet is used quite routinely in Rightpondia for gloves with deep cuffs, as is ‘run the gauntlet’, and I don’t recall ever seeing either spelt gantlet.

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Posted: 24 September 2012 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve never heard of gantlet before. That’s my learning for the week and it’s only Monday.

Thanks.

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Posted: 24 September 2012 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I was aware that “running the gantlet” is regarded as the “correct” form by some sticklers, but it’s not high on my list of crochets.  Actually, I see that the first citation in the OED uses the “gauntlet” spelling:
1676 I. Mather Hist. King Philip’s War (1862) 137 They stripped them naked, and caused them to run the Gauntlet.

In fact, the OED uses the -u- spelling as the headword.  It turns out that even gantlet in this sense is a corruption of gantlope, which I think I shall use from now on.

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Posted: 24 September 2012 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’m another of those who vaguely associated “running the gauntlet” with the idea of some sort of heavy, even armored, glove being used to whack the protagonist; I’d no idea of the “gantlope” story.  Thanks, Skibberoo. But gantlet isn’t that rare, surely. In fact, one might even anticipate such a spelling, considering the word’s etymology. Why stick a useless “u” into it? Surely English orthography (what a whopper of a misnomer!) is enough of a shambles, without laying on the oddities even thicker?

By the way: the OED cite quoted by Dr. Techie says: 1671 I. Mather Hist. King Philip’s War (1862)… what does the “1862” mean, here? Is it perhaps a reference to a work written in 1671 and subsequently edited and republished in 1862? And if so, can we be sure that the spelling given is that used in the original edition?

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Posted: 24 September 2012 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yes, a date in parentheses refers to the date of publication. The OED editors take some care to ensure the published edition is a good one, but inevitably some inaccuracies may creep in.

The 1862 edition of this book is available on Google books. I note that is uses the medial long s, which would be highly unusual for an 1862 book, but which would have been standard in the seventeenth century. It also contains references to the pagination of the 1676 edition. That leads me to suspect that this edition is a pretty accurate transcription.

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Posted: 25 September 2012 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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lionello - 24 September 2012 08:34 AM

But gantlet isn’t that rare, surely. In fact, one might even anticipate such a spelling, considering the word’s etymology. Why stick a useless “u” into it? Surely English orthography (what a whopper of a misnomer!) is enough of a shambles, without laying on the oddities even thicker?

Don’t go vanting that as an well-founded bit of reasoning…

I think ‘gaunt’ is a pretty good approximation of the original French, even if the word itself was a false friend here!

All gets a bit confusing when misunderstandings about expressions creep in. Gantlet would indeed have been closer to the old Germanic pronunciation of its predecessor as prounounced in the dialects of Northern England and Scotland at least, at the time as now.

[ Edited: 25 September 2012 05:05 PM by BlackGrey ]
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Posted: 27 September 2012 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Strike a light…
I only just read Sherlock Holmes talking about the long s and using it to date a paper, and now Dave is.

(I’m tempted to start a thread on interesting linguistic things I encounter while going through the works of Conan Doyle (e.g. His use of check rather than cheque, indorse rather than endorse) but I suppose it would be a pretty pointless thread for everyone else.)

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Posted: 28 September 2012 02:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Both check and indorse have histories in British use that make Conan Doyle’s use of them unremarkable.

The check spelling arose in British use in the eighteenth century and became the standard British convention for a while. Check is the spelling used in Johnson’s dictionary, for example. Check is not, therefore, one of Noah Webster’s spelling innovations; in this case the American usage is simply the survival of the standard eighteenth century British spelling. Around the mid nineteenth century, British usage shifted back to the older cheque. So Conan Doyle, who started writing the Holmes stories in 1887, is a little behind the times, but his use of the spelling is not surprising.

Indorse has a long history in British usage as well. It was the spelling preferred in statute and in legal circles until the twentieth century, and the OED citations from the nineteenth century are filled with British uses of indorse. That dictionary also includes a usage note from Bithell’s 1893 Counting-house Dictionary, “as to the forms Indorse and Endorse, practice appears to be entirely controlled by the taste of the writer.” The endorse spelling didn’t drive indorse out of British usage until well into the twentieth century.

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Posted: 28 September 2012 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Etymonline also offers two distinct derivations for the term “gauntlet”

gauntlet (1)
“glove,” early 15c., gantelet, from O.Fr. gantelet (13c.) “gauntlet worn by a knight in armor,” also a token of one’s personality or person, and symbolizing a challenge, e.g. tendre son gantelet “throw down the gauntlet” (a sense found in English by 1540s)…

and,

gauntlet (2)
military punishment in which offender runs between rows of men who beat him in passing, 1660s, earlier gantlope (1640s), from Swed. gatlopp “passageway,” from O.Swed. gata “lane” (see gate) + lopp “course,” related to löpa “to run” (see leap). Probably borrowed by English soldiers during Thirty Years’ War. Modern spelling, influenced by gauntlet (1), not fixed until mid-19c.

At etymonline, “gantlet” redirects to “gauntlet.”

Due to its Old French ("glove" gantelet) derivation, I wonder if areas culturally influenced by French language such as New Orleans would be more apt to use the “gantlet” spelling? User BlackGrey suggests above, “...Gantlet would indeed have been closer to the old Germanic pronunciation of its predecessor as prounounced in the dialects of Northern England and Scotland at least,...”

I don’t use “gantlet” and I do not recall having seen it used in print. I suppose I may have heard it used but I would have likely taken it for “gauntlet” if so. (Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest US)

For the “application in a technical railroad sense” Wikipedia offers this for the railroad term, “gantlet” and notes that it may also be spelled “gauntlet.”

.

I do know what a “gandy dancer” is—wikipedia link here—slang for railroad ‘maintenance of the way’ workers, basically laborers, usually workers on the tracks, or “way.” This railroad term “gantlet” may have something to do with the etymology of “gandy dancer.” In my travels, I heard by word-of-mouth that the term “gandy dancer” was used mainly by Irish immigrants.

.

Edited to add:

books?id=QksAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA326&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U0-9mcrDc6nDih-iJh5GAUfXcVF4A&ci=386,35,415,402&edge=0

Note: The image above is a link.

Relevant text from the image:

BY THE WAY
What is a “gandy dancer”? The words were on a blackboard outside a store on the Bowery. In old times they might have suggested the proximity of a cheap dance house. But the Bowery has changed. Within the space of a few blocks there are now more than a score of “labor bureaus” where formerly were low dives and “suicide halls.” Inquiry of an Italian employee of the bureau elicited the information that a “gandy dancer” is a railway worker who tamps down the earth between the ties or otherwise “dances” on the track. The announcement read:

Men wanted for track work cinder ballast no rock straight time rain or shine paid weekly accomodation very good. Board furnished $5 per week. It is a good job particularly for veteran gandy dancers. It’s a few miles out and requires no weeks toil to get back to this burg.

Another bureau’s sign called for “gandy danzers,” a variation of the spelling....

[Edited to add missing punctuation in text quotes...]

[ Edited: 29 September 2012 12:30 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 28 September 2012 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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A little more here on ‘gandy-dancers.’

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gan1.htm

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Posted: 29 September 2012 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Skibberoo - 28 September 2012 11:30 PM

A little more here on ‘gandy-dancers.’

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gan1.htm

From that link:

...However, the earliest known reference is more specific:

Inquiry of an Italian employee of the bureau elicited the information that a “gandy dancer” is a railway worker who tamps down the earth between the ties, or otherwise “dances” on the track.

Outlook, 26 Jun. 1918. British readers would prefer to use sleeper rather than tie. It is very unlikely that earth was used to tamp them: the usual ballast was small stones (rocks for Americans).

I understand that “earth” as in soil was specifically not used because it failed to drain, thus severely shortening the life of the rail bed and track. Cinders (possibly, actual cinders, or cinder-sized rock) and gravel were used exclusively. There was a specialized pitch-fork-like tool, antique, now, that was used to shovel the stuff, the tines allowing unsuitably smaller material to be automatically culled in the process of shoveling (actually, “forking").

Nowadays, angular crushed rock about an inch or inch-and-a-half in screen size (at least the visible top stones) appears to be the chosen material, but that is just from my limited recent experience and distant past recollection.

Incidentally, the image edited into the earlier post is a link to the “earliest known reference” quoted in the worldwidewords link.

I suspect that there may be quite a bit of railroad slang and terminology that has made its way into Leftpondian English.

I wonder what correlation there might be between CANOE on the Rightpondian side vs. CHOO-CHOO on the Leftpondian side?

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