"Drowned Alive"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 22 17:30:41 UTC 2005

>On Aug 22, 2005, at 9:07 AM, Barbara Need wrote:
>>I don't remember what station or what the program was, but I heard an
>>ad for some "news" program which was describing the activities of a
>>young man who tied a couple up and then they were "drowned alive".
>there are a modest number of Google hits for (passive) "drowned alive".
>i'd guess that the model is "buried alive", which *is* semantically
>compositional, unlike "drowned alive".  the true watery parallel to
>"buried alive" would be "Xed alive", for some verb X that means
>something like 'hold/confine underwater'.  unfortunately, english
>seems to have no such verb.  '"immerse, "submerse", and "submerge"
>lack the component of being trapped underwater; immersion etc. can be
>brief, temporary.  ("plunge", "dip", and "duck" are explicitly
>brief.)  that pretty much leaves "drown", which as a simple
>transitive verb with animate objects ("We drowned the witch") entails
>death (though there are non-fatal extended senses, as in "We drowned
>Kim in praise" and "We accidentally drowned Kim in chocolate sauce").
>so "drowned alive" is the best we can do for a compact expression
>denoting being held underwater, while (initially) alive, for an
>extended period of time -- an event that will eventually result in
>death, just as being buried alive will.  alas, "drowned alive" is an
>oxymoron.  but that sort of thing doesn't necessarily bother most
Less compact:  "buried alive in/by water"
I think I'd rather be shot dead than drowned alive.


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