Eyjafjallajökull FTW

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The explanation, from Aspen Swartz:

I really enjoyed your post on that Icelandic volcano. (and being able to read Language Log, in general).  I tried to learn to say it, which put it in my head, where it attached itself to a melody (John Kanaka, a sea chanty).  So I wrote some verses to it, and sang it at our monthly sea-chanty where the group said I needed to put it up on youtube.  The result is a crowd-consensus anglicization in the chorus — I hope it might be entertaining.


  1. Björn said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 10:28 am


  2. John Lawler said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 11:49 am

    An authentic volcano chanty, inspired by LL.

    [Novel NP alert:
    Google says 'No results found for "volcano chanty"'

  3. Adrian Bailey (UK) said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    We call them "sea shanties".

    [(myl) The OED has "shanty, chant(e)y", without any indication of geographical or temporal associations for the various spellings. But Encarta says that "shanty" is "the UK spelling of chantey", while giving "chanty", "shantey", and "shanty" as alternative spellings of "chantey" .]

  4. Ray Girvan said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    It's a bit well-pronounced for a shanty; I think we need sailor-style Anglicisation (as the Bellerophon become the Billy Ruffian) and garbling via oral tradition.

    Fat Yokel was a volcan-o,
    Away, haul, away.
    'E 'rupted up in Iceland-o,
    We'll haul away, me Johnny.

    "E blew 'is ash up in the sky,
    Away, haul, away.
    The airyplanes they couldn't fly,
    We'll haul away, me Johnny.

    Fat Yokel had a funny name,
    Away, haul, away.
    'E put the TV boys to shame,
    We'll haul away, me Johnny.

    [(myl) Well played. But maybe in place of the TV-boys line, "The anchors they were all at sea"?]

  5. Lynn Noel said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    Nice. John Kanaka is particularly suitable, since KanakaLand (Hawaii) is so well known for its volcanoes. As chanteys* are work songs, perhaps a few verses about shoveling ash?

    *Agreed, Adrian, though we U.S. sympathizers to the French and Canadians do also accept and use the Francophile spelling. ;-)

  6. Charlie Miller said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    I'm going to work on learning this for our next Chantey Night at the Mermaid Inn in Philly. Come on down and teach it to us!

  7. Ray Girvan said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

    myl: "The anchors they were all at sea"

    Very nice!

    And where d'ye think was GKP?
    Away, haul, away.
    A-stranded in Amerikee,
    We'll haul away, me Johnny.

  8. Army1987 said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

    One of the things which I didn't like about the potential Anglicization of Eyjafjallajökull with two syllables for "-fjal-" and two for "-ull" is that "For Eyjafjallajökull was ablaze" wouldn't fit in a iambic pentameter.

  9. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    But what rhymes with The anchors they were all at sea?

    Maybe Each night 'is name was on TV.

    @Lynn Noel: Is the Francophile spelling the one that looks like French, or the one that makes you pronounce it like French?

  10. Tanya said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 4:26 pm


    Another nice interpretation of the pronunciation here (at the end of the clip)

  11. Aspen Swartz said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

    I think whether I spell it sea chanty or sea shanty or sea chantey is- perhaps not random- but unpredictable. Chantey is one of the few words I don't regard has having a "correct" spelling.
    I agree with Ray Girvan that it's too well-pronounced. I'm going to learn his version and bring it to the next shanty sing as soon as I figure out the tune. Ray, do you have an audio source for that tune?

  12. Ray Girvan said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

    as soon as I figure out the tune

    As soon as I do too…

    Here you go: fatyokie.mp3

    I incorporated Mark's suggested improvement.

  13. Mark Mandel said,

    April 27, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    Wonderful! (Hey, Lynn, good to see you here!)

  14. Private Zydeco said,

    April 28, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    This seems to be an…um…expurgated rendition, for a very markedly befuddling eschewal of such line-final rhymes as might also be
    anticipated, given the song-poem's subject's seismic implications,
    stands out (or, in, as it were) like a crater to a geologic ear. e.g.:

    bonnie shrowd
    bilious clowd

    a pyroclastic plume
    pancontinental doom

    and so forth. Anyone else hearing this also?

  15. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 28, 2010 @ 10:31 am

    @Ray Girvan:

    Here you go: fatyokie.mp3

    That's great, but…

    I incorporated Mark's suggested improvement.

    I didn't hear it.

  16. Army1987 said,

    April 28, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

    The OED has […]. But Encarta says […].
    That's not what I'd expect from a descriptive linguist!
    From Google searches such as http://www.google.com/search?q=%22sea+shantey%22+OR+%22sea+shanteys%22&meta=cr%3DcountryUS, I found:

    The usual disclaimers apply.

  17. Army1987 said,

    April 28, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    OK, since the blog screwed up the table even though it looked fine in the preview:

      UK US
    shanty 37200 92900
    chanty 794 15600
    shantey 253 763
    chantey 945 31500

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