Friday 8 August 2014

Jolla boat and the sailfishes - part 2

Stories behind the names

...As two loves have I

Yacht or Dinghy for Purpose,
insignificant given the ocean's vastness
sending my consciousness swimming with
dolphins, as they will tell the secrets as to which it should be for a life vest of purpose

Part of "Yacht or Dinghy for Purpose"
by Vivian L Dawson

Jolla boat and sailfishes - part 2

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In part one I tried to describe why Jolla shouldn't be treated as a "jolly boat". Our readers also shared the translations like Swedish and German "Jolle" and Russian ял [jal] and ялик [jalik]. The latter Russian word sounds somewhat similar to "Yacht" from English. and then we have this "Yawl" I suggested myself. We can also find quite a few similarities to the Finnish Jolla [Yol-la].

The etymology of "Jolla", "Jol", "Jolle" seems to end to an unknown German origin. Russian "ялик" might go much further in the history of sailing. Not forgetting the English "Dinghy" with quite a similar meaning but a totally different etymology and a much longer history.

All these words have slightly different meanings depending on the culture/country. However in etymology they shouldn't be mixed with "Joy" (feeling), "Yawl" (as a dog crying) or "Yacht" (maybe the next Jolla phone model name?)
  • "Jolla", "Jolle", "Jol", ял [jal], ялик [jalik], "Yawl", "Yaul", "Jolly boat"
     - Unknown German origin
     - A life saving boat, boat carried by a ship or a sailing vessel with max. 2 masts
  • "Dinghy", "Dingi"
     - Asian/African origin
     - Small boat with oars or sails, nowadays also with an engine
     - Also a life saving boat in some cultures
As the first words leads us to an unknown German origin, we are forced to follow the second. Let's take it for example as a possible nick name to our phones. "Hey, my Dingi is ringing"

Previous: Part 1
Next: Follow up! We know nothing about the sailfishes yet. Meanwhile, please help me out again: I'd be interested to see How you write sailfish in your language?

Image: Eric Frommer / CC2.0
Published: August 8, 2014 11:50 UTC


  1. "Ял" is originated from Netherlands "jol", like lots of other marine terms in Russia (imported by Peter I who basically created professional navy taking lots of experience from Holland), and probably was influenced by English "yawl". "Ялик" literally should mean "Smaller ял", but I would say (just my opinion) it's used because it's more convinient to pronounce.

    1. Thanks pixel! The Netherlands "Jol" complies also with the German "Jolle", but the origin remains unknown. Is it common in Russian language to add "-ик" when talking about smaller / younger / similar?

    2. > Is it common in Russian language to add "-ик" when talking about smaller / younger / similar?

      Yes, but, like in next comment, it doesn't work vice-versa

  2. > How you write sailfish in your language?

    Парусник ['parusnik], literally means "sailing ship".

  3. The Dutch wikipedia ( points to the word Gelias, a word that stems from the Red Sea and India regions. This info can be found on the page - a page with the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW)

    (pdf:, search for gelias)

    The word VOC in the url refers to "Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie" ( - we're obviously proud of our history...

    1. Thanks a lot André, this was very interesting and will surely add to the story. Sailing on!

    2. I had my focus on this old topic while missing news... So André, you mentioned "Gelias", could that word be related to "Gallant"; brave, jolly. "Jolly" is also old British slang used for marines :)

  4. Swedish - Segelfisk.