There isn't just one kind of shanty with different words. Shanties are real work songs and their pattern or rhythm reflects the different activities aboard a sailing ship. Their length (number of verses) also reflects the typical length of the activity. Most shanties have a solo verse and a mass chorus. The solo was sung by the person in charge of the activity and the chorus by those who were turning the capstan or windlass or hauling on the ropes.
Shanty itself may be a derivation of the French 'Chanter' - to sing.
The different types of shanty are sometimes given as: