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SLASPA TRIVIA-Where does “Mayday” come from?

So far through this medium, you have learnt why ships are called “she”, how a nautical mile was arrived and why is sea speed calculated in “knots”. We are sure you have heard in movies captains and crew shout “mayday mayday mayday” when their vessel is encountering difficulties. Well, the distress signal “Mayday” was taken from the French expression “M’Aidez”, which consists of an internationally recognised radiotelegraph or radiotelephone transmission indicating grave or imminent danger and requesting immediate assistance.

If the Distress Signal is transmitted by radiotelegraph, the signal consists of three dots, three dashes and three dots transmitted as a single signal. If the signal is sent via radiotelephone, it consists of the enunciation of the word “Mayday”, which is the anglisized version of “M’Aidez” or “Help Me”. So why repeat “Mayday” three times? This is to ensure that the person/persons receiving the transmission do not mistake the message for another similar sounding word.

Now, the next time you are watching your favourite sitcom of movie, and you hear the actor or actress shout “Mayday” you now know why and what it means.

For more information please call SLASPA at 457-6100 or visit www.slaspa.com.