Mermaids vs. Sirens – Know the difference

Mermaids or Sirens?Q: What’s the difference between mermaids and sirens? I thought they were one in the same?

A: Somewhere along the literary and mythological road, mermaids and sirens got confused into one creature: a half-woman, half-fish creature known for her beautiful singing voice. Originally, it was only the mermaid that was a half-human, half-fish creature, and a singing voice wasn’t mentioned in early myths. Sirens were the singers, and they were actually half-woman, half-bird creatures.

For a more detailed explanation, please see the article The Difference Between Mermaids and Sirens. (This is a link to an external page and will open a new browser tab.)

As you can see, the idea of mermaids has come a long way over the centuries.

Mermaids, Sirens, and The World of Colony Island

In developing the concept of mermaids – and mermen – for Urban Mermaid, I kept some ideas, dispensed with others, and overall, made them more user-friendly. 

For example, I kept the idea of beautiful singing voices and expanded the franchise to include mermen. This will be explored in greater detail by the sequel to Urban Mermaid, Sirena. (This is the current working title.)

The idea of luring sailors to their doom with sweet singing was a non-starter. While the idea of luring men – sailors or otherwise – to their death is a popular notion amongst misandrists[1]Urban Mermaid is not that kind of story. While Penelope does become totally frustrated with Peter at one point in the plot and contemplates doing away with him, an unknown inner voice scolds her for even thinking of such a thing.

As for Pausanias, in the second century, describing mermen as having scales covering their entire bodies, gills, a fish-like mouth, and a scaly tail like a dolphin’s, we can only assume that this specimen was an early prototype on which Poseidon refused to sign off. As the reader will discover in the prologue, the sea god had definite ideas as to how his mortal children should appear.

The merfolk of Colony Island will be examined in greater detail by a forthcoming FAQ.

For a humorous look at how sirens operate nowadays, take a look at the Siren School slideshow. 


The preceding discourse concerns is how the author envisions the merfolk of Colony Island would appear and behave. His opinions and prejudices are just that; opinions and prejudices. They are not intended to defame or belittle the vision of any reader, writer, or illustrator. Sadly, there are no merfolk around to prove or disprove our ideas and speculation.

[1] By definition, a misandrist is a person – usually female – who hates men. This is the opposite of  a misogynist, a person – usually male, but not always – who hates women. By and large, most – if not all – radical feminists are at their core, misandrists.

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