Day 02 “Yacht”

English is a funny old language especially when it comes to spelling. There seem to be so many consonants just floating about unpronounced. Words like ‘yacht’ for example; pronounced “yot” (/ˈjɒt/ ) but containing a few pointless letters.

Like many English words this word stems from the Germanic languages, in this case the Dutch word for “hunting ship”: jaghtschip. They were light vessels used by pirates and the navy alike to hunt down and intercept other, heavier ships.

Depending on the source England’s King Charles II was either given one of these jaghtschippe as a gift which he then used for leisure rather than hunting down other water crafts or he chose the ship to transport himself from The Netherlands to England for his Restoration. Perhaps he used it as transport and liked it so much he decided to keep one? Whichever story is closer to the truth the fact remains that these jaghts soon became associated with an elite lifestyle and leisure activities more than pirate-hunting. The guttural pronunciation of the gh fell away (similarly to the words ‘light’, ‘night’ etc) but the spelling remained as a clue to the origins of the once-proud hunting ships.

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