abandon ship

Jana337

Senior Member
čeština
Hello, :)

Probably a daft question:

I am talking to a brilliant native speaker of English who is trying to convince me that "to abandon ship", to me one of the weirdest expressions ever, is logical.

The captain gave the order to abandon the ship.
- That's how I would say it.

OK, if he just said that "to abandon ship" is idiomatic, I'd take it. But he insists that the missing article actually makes sense. I am sorry, I cannot see it. In particular not in the example above.

Any thoughts? :)

Jana
 
  • Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    Hi Jana,

    "Abandon ship" is indeed an idiom (especially as an order, with the verb in imperative), but I agree with your alternative sentence.

    I think, however, that by leaving the particle out you sort of convey the aspect that "the captain gave the order 'abandon ship'".

    I'm not sure; I feel that both sound ok in their own way, so I'm interested in seeing what others think about this. Intriguing. :)
     
    Indeed, Jana, the xpression is to abandon ship and not abandon the ship.
    Regards,
    majlo :)

    Hi Jana,

    "Abandon ship" is indeed an idiom


    Idiom is an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.

    The meaning of "Abandon ship", I think, can be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    Idiom is an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.

    The meaning of "Abandon ship", I think, can be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.
    Quite correct - I plead guilty :D Substitute 'expression' for 'idiom' ;)
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Idiom is an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.

    The meaning of "Abandon ship", I think, can be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.
    As pointed out it's abandon ship which part of the definition you gave doesn't allow to clasify it as an idiom please?


    Tom
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Especially the second one. I do believe the meaning of the abandon ship can be derived from the meanings of its elements. Do you think otherwise?
    Yes, I do. I think it is an idiom, please have a look at the definition especialy at the first part:
    Idiom is an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.

    Tom
     

    SpanishStudent_39

    Senior Member
    USA (English)
    "Abandon ship" is perfectly correct in the US as an expression. "Abandon the ship" is not incorrect, but in usually we say "abandon ship" as in "We're sinking. Should we abandon ship?" or "Abandon ship!" (as a command).

    Most people here would call it an expression, but that doesn't mean it's not an idiom.
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    The definition of an idiom I've usually seen is pretty similar to wikipedia's:

    An idiom is an expression (i.e. term or phrase) whose meaning cannot be deduced from the literal definitions and the arrangement of its parts, but refers instead to a figurative meaning that is known only through conventional use.
    An example is 'kick the bucket', meaning 'to die'. While there certainly is grammatical inconsistancies in some idioms, they themselves won't be enough as a qualifier.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    It's a common expression in English, along with "jump ship" and many other expressions that dispense with articles.

    For reasons unknown, the Cambridge dictionary of idioms lists the latter, but not the former.

    Make way!
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Tom, I still can't see abandon ship as an idiom. I get the meaning from the words abandon and ship.
    Nonetheless, its grammar alludes to the first part of your definition. I would also use the as logically it should be placed here. You can deduce the meaning from its parts but you can't explain why there's no the definite article and that makes it idiomatic. If you convince me with a reasonable explanation I am ready and will be happy to change my point of view. :)


    Tom
     
    During my many crossings from Ryde to Portsmouth (on the mainland), and back again, a safety film is shown on board the ferry. Leaving out all the preliminaries we get to the worst scenario. "In the event of the Captain giving the order to abandon ship, please remove your shoes and put on any warm clothing you may have. Please leave all personal possessions behind."

    I always feel like adding, "And may the Lord have mercy on your soul."




    LRV
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Perhaps the "rule" of omitting "superfluous" words applies to all expressions derived from orders that need to be shouted or telegraphed at maximum speed with minimum room for misunderstanding. Here is a few that come to mind:

    Raise flag
    Lower flag
    Point cannons
    Fire cannons
    Increase speed
    Secure bastion
    Raise sails
    hit target

    There must be thousands more. :)
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Out of curiosity, can abandon ship be synonymous to jump ship in some fugurative contexts?

    Tom
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Out of curiosity, can abandon ship be synonymous to jump ship in some fugurative contexts?

    Tom
    No.



    However, one who jumps ship does abandon his or her post on the ship. Isn't idiomatic English wonderful?


    Now, when you hear the Captain yell, "Abandon ship!", you haul ass to the railing, get into the lifeboat, and do as you've been told.
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Hello.

    1.Loudspeaker: Attention! Attention! This is your Captain speaking. Fire in
    the engine room! This is an emergency! Proceed to your muster stations
    immediately!
    Loudspeaker: Attention! Attention! Fire is spreading! Prepare to abandon
    __ship! Prepare to abandon __ship!

    2. - Do you know where the life boats are?
    - They are on __deck as well. Yes, but where on __deck?

    These are extracts from a text-book called "English for Seafarers".
    'Ship' and 'deck' are used without any article. Why? I would say 'prepare to
    abandon the ship' and 'they are on the deck'. What do you think?

    << I have merged this thread with an earlier thread on the same question. Please read from the first and comment. There is still more to be said, I am certain.
    Cagey, moderator. >>
     
    Last edited by a moderator:
    "Abandon ship" is a set expression. Perhaps someone familiar with maritime history can explain how it came to lack the definite article, but it definitely does not include "the."

    "On deck," similarly, is a set expression in certain circumstances. For example, "all hands on deck" is a command given telling all personnel to report to the deck.
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "On deck," similarly, is a set expression in certain circumstances. For example, "all hands on deck" is a command given telling all personnel to report to the deck.
    What are the circumstances in this case? Probably I should give more context. In the dialog sailors are checked how well they know about the location of fire-fighting equipment, life boats, etc. If the ship in question has more than one deck if would be logical to point out the deck where the boats are. For example, on the second deck.
    @Cagey: sorry, I should have looked for "abandon ship" before asking.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The noun when used without the article becomes more general in sense. As a result, the meaning of the expression is focused more on the action represented by the word combination. This is particularly appropriate when giving a direct order. Another nautical example is 'weigh anchor'.
    It also occurs in other contexts, particularly in American English, such as 'clean house' (British: 'put your house in order'), 'jump rope' (British: 'skip') and 'teach school' (British: 'teach'). Another example is 'pull rank'. It is the action seen as a generic concept which is highlighted by avoiding the article.
     
    Last edited:

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Also: 'deck' refers to the open space or the open deck, and we are thinking of the 'floors' in a ship. 'On deck' is a set phrase like 'on course' or 'in hand'.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Out of curiosity, can abandon ship be synonymous to jump ship in some fugurative contexts?

    Tom
    "Jump ship" (in a marine or seagoing context) has a specific meaning. A person has "jumped ship" when they leave the crew of a vessel without being formally discharged. It is possible to do so by jumping overboard, but the usual method is to go ashore and fail to return to the ship.

    However, both "jump ship" and "abandon ship" may be used figuratively to mean "leave an enterprise". I would tend to use "jump ship" to connote that the departure was done because of a difference of opinion (EDIT: or to take a position with another enterprise), and "abandon ship" if the departure was due to the impending failure of the enterprise.
     
    I think the ellipse of 'the' denotes that the speaker and listener are on the commonground:

    They are on the same deck and may be feeling the object beneath your feet, so they need not turn around to it.

    Increase speed, or we will soon be caught by the police.
    Fire cannons, or we will be under fire.
    Hi target, or you will be hit by me.
    Haul ass! - You should've hauled the ass sooner.
    Jump ship, or die harder!
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    @natkretep, wandle: your explanations seemed logical and convincing until I came a cross a couple of similar expressions in the same text-book. I guess they have nothing to do with 'abandon ship', which turns out to be a set phrase. That's why I opened a new one. You're welcome to participate.
     
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