Feb 26 2014

Follow up: Donegal Danny

Some time ago I opined that the folk song Donegal Danny contained an erroneous lyric, e.g., “the cries of drowning men.” At the time I snarkily mentioned that the only sound thatI thought drowning men would make was, “glub.”

Well, it turns out that I am right. There is an excellent article at Slate called ‘Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.’ In addition to verifying my rightness, it contains several valuable tips on how to spot and help a drowning victim. I am listing two Danny-related ones: 

  1. “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
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Nov 17 2011

Donegal Danny

There is a folk song called Donegal Danny about a man whose ship was caught in a storm and all of his fellow fishermen perished.

Here are part of the lyrics:

“And often at night when the sea is high
And the rain is tearing at my skin
I hear the cries of drowning men
Floating over on the wind.”

I’ve heard this song several times, but it was only yesterday that I realized that ‘the cries of drowning men’ should sound like:

‘Glub, glub, gluuuububbbb.’

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