A _shanty town_ is an area of makeshift housing, but what is a *shanty*? A *shanty* is a roughly built cabin or hut; the first recorded use is in Ohio in 1820. In Canadian French a _chantier_ is a cabin used by a lumberjack or _shantyman_. _Chantier_ is from the Latin _cantherius_ (beam or rafter). Or _shanty_ may be from the Irish _sean tig_ (old house). _Bidon_ is French for oil drum or petrol tin; _bidonville_ is a shanty town, usually in Africa, made of _bidons_. Other words for shanty towns are _favela_ and _rancho_ (South America), _barrio_ (Central America) and _busti_ and _kampong_ (Asia).

mag cover This article is from the June 2002 issue of New Internationalist.
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