Adventures in Ethics and Science

Ask a Pirate Blogger.

i-2c149e8f04fba14cce2a7bb3190a9d8f-Arrrggh.jpgAvast, ye bloglubbers!

We be starin’ down the crow’s nest at another International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday marked in these seas by the seizin’ o’ this bucket by the Dread Pirate Free-Ride. Aye, it happened last year, and by the beak o’ the squid guardin’ Davy Jones’ locker*, it’s happened again.

What’s that ye be sayin’? Pirates didn’t really be sayin’ “Arrrr”? Shove some hardtack in that mouth or I be usin’ it to scrape the barnacles off this bucket!

Me deckhand Smee be askin’, “Why is it we seafarers be callin’ each other scurvy dogs? Do dogs be gettin’ scurvy?”

A fine question to be comin’ from a mind so soaked in rum!

Some landlubber be sayin’ that there was:

a published report that suggested hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), a bone disease of young dogs, might be due to a deficiency of vitamin C within the body, based on a report that found similarities between bone abnormalities found in HOD and scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) in humans. Later evidence showed that the two conditions were not the same disorder and controlled studies on the efficacy of supplementing with vitamin C in the treatment of HOD failed to support the concept that low levels of ascorbic acid were a cause of HOD.

‘Tis to say, dogs that be lookin’ like they have scurvy be havin’ HOD instead.

And shiver me timbers, them dogs don’t e’en need to be beggin’ for the ship’s limes:

… dogs and cats manufacture vitamin C on their own in the liver …

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is required for the formation of collagen. Collagen is a primary constituent of teeth, bone, and connective tissue, and is produced by bone-forming cells during skeletal growth and development. Ascorbic acid is produced in the liver from two sugars, either glucose or galactose. Unless inadequate amounts are synthesized by the liver or there is an unusually high metabolic requirement, supplementation of the diet with ascorbic acid is unnecessary.

“Cap’n,” Smee be askin’ me, “If th’ dogs be makin’ Vitamin C, couldn’t a sailor tired o’ limes be eatin’ a dog to hold th’ scurvy at bay?”

Aye, there’s a reason I keep Smee out o’ th’ galley!

*Why we pirates be invokin’ the watery locker o’ some sea Monkey is a mystery o’ the seas!


  1. #1 Warren
    September 19, 2007

    A fine question to be comin’ from a mind so soaked in rum!

    Avast with ye and belay that bilge. All good salts know it be grog, not rum!

    Apropos of dogs and arrrr, it was practice in Rome of antiquity to refer to “r” as the littora canina, or dog letter, because it was pronounced with a distinct rolling like the growling of a dog. Arrrrrrrrrrrr!

  2. #2 Alan Kellogg
    September 20, 2007

    ‘Sides, twas the practice of referrin ta yer shipmates as ‘scurvy dogs’ as a token o’ comradely affection. Belike wiccans a’callin each tother witches to rile preacher men, pirates call each other scurvy dogs to have a bit o’ a roust with john law and the like.

  3. Cleveland on Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
  4. Mark P on Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
  5. et on Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
  6. arvind on Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.