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    Where Does The Word Mayday Come From? Why Is It Used As Distress Call Internationally?

    Modern vocabulary has developed to a great extent. Today, there is a special word for almost everything. Many people are aware of the slangs on Instagram. But very few know words that are used internationally for emergencies and other stuff. One such word is ‘Mayday‘. While some might think it’s a word for holidays in May, others might feel a different connotation of it. Despite other meanings, Mayday is a word that is primarily used for distress calls globally. The word literally means “Disambiguation” according to certain dictionaries.

    The word’s usage is in voice procedure in radio communications. Usually, aviators, people who are flying, and mariners, people who are on water use this word. When Mayday is said three times it denotes an emergency situation that can also be life-threatening. However, it’s not restricted to aviators and mariners. In some countries, police officers, and firefighters too, use this word to signal an emergency. They just have to repeat it thrice. While everyone knows about the word Mayday, very few are aware of its origin. Here’s a brief history of the word.

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    The Word ‘Mayday’, Its Origin And Significance

    The word which is today used internationally was first used in England. ‘Mayday’ was used for distress calls procedure in the late 1920s. The first person who coined this word was Frederick Stanley Mockford, who was at that time the officer-in-charge of radio at Croydon Airport, England. Frederick had been asked by his seniors in the 1920s to think of a word that can be used for distress calls as during that time the traffic was heavy between airports, which made the words even more difficult to reach the receivers. Hence, Frederick came up with the word ‘Mayday’ that’s easily understood by the pilots and emergency staff members.

    The word was a common one and was heard by everyone. Further, the phenetic meaning of the word is also “help me”. Basically, it originates from the French word m’aidez, which literally means ‘help me”. Also m’aider, which is a short form of venez m’aider, meant “come and help me”. Hence, the word was finalized as it suited the best and meant the same.

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    Why Mayday Is Used As Distress Call Around The World?

    After a series of testing, the brand-new operating technique wasn’t implemented for trans-Channel flights until February 1923. The previous distress cry had been the Morse code signal SOS. But this was not judged ideal for voice transmission “owing to the difficulties of recognizing the letter ‘S’ via telephone.” Instead, the signal that was used was a combination of the letters S and O. 

    The International Radiotelegraph Convention held in Washington in 1927 decided to use the voice call “mayday” as the radiotelephone distress call. This was in addition to the SOS radiotelegraph (Morse code) signal. In the years immediately following World War I, when air travel between the United Kingdom and the continent of Europe was experiencing explosive growth, the signal came into being. All of the neighboring countries needed a signal that could be interpreted on a global scale. Additionally, it would also inform authorities of serious aviation difficulties.

    The term ‘Mayday’ will typically be repeated three times in rapid succession at the beginning of a distress call. This is done to ensure that the term is not confused with another word or phrase that has a similar sound. After this, the information that rescuers need to know is informed. The word played a significant role in Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘ also. Well, a call for an emergency can be situational.

    The emergency signal takes precedence over any and all other broadcasts at this time. Every year, the United States Coast Guard responds to around 25,000 emergency calls, some of which involve the ‘mayday’ distress signal. In addition, a mayday call can be transmitted on behalf of one vessel by another vessel. This practice is referred to as a mayday relay.

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