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Qajaq is the original and best English transliteration of the Inuit word for this fine craft, as it reflects the gutteral pronunciation. In general use it has since been softened to qayaq and now kayak: the word kayak joins anorak as one of the small number of Inuit words in common English use.

The term canoe is used specifically for open-topped boats based on a different hull design or, decreasingly, as the generic for both these and kayaks. The Oxford English Dictionary has one definition for a canoe as "any rude craft paddled by uncivilised people". Surely that can't include kayaks...


Page last modified on November 14, 2021, at 08:10 AM