Originally Posted by Don C L
Doesn’t anyone know how to spell “gunwales?”
has been used in print in English
since at least 1727, to represent the usual nautical pronunciation of the word.
The 1727 citation in Oxford English Dictionary
reads: "as high as the Gun-wall or Gunnel."
One of the usual 'principles' to which people turn is whether orthography represents pronunciation or etymology. Or both.
Those pushing for reform of English spelling argue (including Noah Webster) that actual pronounced usage should be reflected in orthography. That raises the question: why is the language not called Inglish?
Those pushing for etymology seem to have affection for the orthography (or presumed orthography) of the word when imported into English. That raises the question: why is the language not called Ænglish?
The first usage of what became gunwale looks to be 1466 gonne walles
, referring to the topmost hull
planks supporting the barrels of a ship's great guns
of the word gun
is itself a ball of fun. First use in England
appears in 1330, used for the name of a jolly big ballista mounted on the wall of a fort or castle originally built by William the Bastard (aka the Conqueror) a day's march out of London. That castle is now called Windsor, apparently after a forest.
The jolly big ballista was affectionately called Domina Gunilda
, or in Ænglish "Lady Gunnhilda".
I've not seen anyone explain why the ballista was called after Gunilda or who she might have been (Gunnhildr is a calling name, representing Old Norse gunnr
, meaning war; and Old Norse hildr
, meaning battle).
Sixty years after the appearance of that jolly big ballista, cannon (the tubular things using the Chinese invention of gunpowder to expel ball or shot) were called Grete gonnes
, great guns