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Avast, ye swabbies, ‘tis the 16th anniversary of International Talk Like a Pirate Day  (ITLAPD). Today you should greet friends not with "Hello," but with "Ahoy, me hearty!" Basically, all you have to do is say “Arrrgh” a lot. The “international celebration really took off in 2002, when national columnist Dave Barry wrote a funny article about it, in the Miami Herald.

jolly roger animated.gifThere are more than 1,500 “Talk Like a Pirate” videos on YouTube, and more than 12 million websites dedicated in some way to the holiday. This holiday traces its origin back to 1995, when two wannabe pirates, John Baur and Mark Summers, decided “that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

So, me hearty, ‘tis a pirate ye’ll be today. Shiver me timbers, and belay all o’ ye lubber palaver.  Mad Cap’n Tom, a British pirate of some renown, has kindly offered a brief introductory course in “How To Be Speakin' Pirate-Like,” for all ye sprogs out there:

Pirate Gothic.jpgStartin' Rules

Double up on all your adjectives and you'll be bountifully bombastic with your phrasing. Pirates never speak of "a big ship", they call it a "great, grand ship!" They never say never, they say "No nay ne'er!"

Drop all your "g"'s when you speak and you'll get words like "rowin'", "sailin'" and "fightin'". Dropping all of your "v"'s will get you words like "ne'er", "e'er" and "o'er".

Judg Green Pirate.jpgInstead of saying "I am", sailors say, "I be". Instead of saying "You are", sailors say, "You be". Instead of saying, "They are", sailors say, "They be". Ne'er speak in anythin' but the present tense!

If it be helpin', start yer sentence wi' a "Arr, me hearty," in a deep, throaty voice — ye'll find that the rest be comin' much easier.

For instance you might tell your boss:  "By the Powers, I be late for work today, but t' Sherman Minton Bridge got the black spot, and I got keelhauled in Interstate 65 traffic."

Vocabulary

  • Ahoy: Hey!
  • Avast: Stop!
  • Aye: Yes
  • Black spot: to be 'placin' the black spot' be markin' someone for death.
  • Booty: treasure
  • Buccaneer: a pirate who be answerin' to no man or blasted government.
  • By the Powers!: an exclamation, uttered by Long John Silver in Treasure Island!
  • Cat o' nine tails: whip for floggin' mutineers
  • Corsair: a pirate who be makin' his berth in the Med-...Medi-...that sea 'tween Spain and Africa, aye!
  • Davy Jones' Locker: the bottom o' the sea, where the souls of dead men lie
  • Doubloons: pieces of gold...
  • Fiddlers Green: the private heaven where pirates be goin' when they die.
  • Furner: a ship which be yer own, not one ye steal an' plunder.
  • Gentlemen o' fortune: a slightly more positive term fer pirates!
  • Go on the account: to embark on a piratical cruise
  • Grog: A pirate's favorite drink; watered-down rum
  • Jack: a flag or a sailor
  • Jolly Roger: the skull and crossbones, the pirate flag!
  • Keelhaul: a truly vicious punishment where a scurvy dog be tied to a rope and dragged along the barnacle-encrusted bottom of a ship. They not be survivin' this.
  • Landlubber: "Land-lover," someone not used to lifepirate.gif onboard a ship.
  • Lass: A woman.
  • Lily-livered: faint o' heart
  • Loaded to the Gunwales (pron. gunnels): drunk
  • Matey: A shipmate or a friend.
  • Me hearty: a friend or shipmate.
  • Me: My.
  • Pieces o' eight: pieces o' silver which can be cut into eights to be givin' small change.
  • Privateer: a pirate officially sanctioned by a national power
  • Scallywag: A bad person. A scoundrel.
  • Scurvy dog!: a fine insult!
  • Shiver me timbers!: an exclamation of surprise, to be shouted most loud.
  • Son of a Biscuit Eater: a derogatory term indicating a bastard son of a sailor
  • Sprogs: raw, untrained recruits
  • Squadron: a group of ten or less warships
  • Squiffy: a buffoon
  • Swaggy: a scurvy cur's ship what ye be intendin' to loot!
  • Swashbucklin': fightin' and carousin' on the high seas!
  • Sweet trade: the career of piracy
  • Thar: The opposite of "here."
  • Walk the plank: this one be bloody obvious.
  • Wench: a lady, although ye gents not be wantin' to use this around a lady who be stronger than ye.
  • Wi' a wannion: wi' a curse, or wi' a vengeance. Boldly, loudly!
  • Yo-ho-ho: Pirate laughter

Get your very own TLAPD poster:  CLICK HERE

Learn more:  TLAPD home page

Join with 61,000 pirates on Facebook

Pirate talk translator:

Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).


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About Thomas McAdam

At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.

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