With international “speak like a pirate day” dawning on the 19th of september, I thought I’d republish some content to help those that don’t think they’d be able to pull it off without a guiding hand:
How to Talk Like a Pirate
from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Talk Like A Pirate Day is celebrated on September 19.
If you’re going to dress up like a pirate, nothing will ruin your image more easily than just adding “Arrrrr!” to the end of every sentence. So don’t settle for being an imitation pirate, or you’ll get labeled a “lubber” in no time. Here’s how to be authentic and colorful, like a real swashbuckling man o’the sea!
- Growl – and scowl often. Pirates don’t use a cultured, elegant, smooth vocalization – they mutter and growl.
- Use pirate lingo. Sounding like a pirate isn’t as hard as it seems! There are lots of resources for picking up pirate “lingo,” so make use of them (some common terms listed below) in addition to trying to affect a vocal sound. Avoid using modern epithets (swear words). It’s much more colorful (and kid-friendly) to use “pirate slang” for those naughty words.
- Gesture with your hands frequently. Don’t forget that pirates do most of their talking on the deck of a ship – out on the ocean, where wind, waves, and bird calls make it tough to hear. Gesturing often gives you a sense of “being there.”
- Run words together. Saying, “The boys and I were out for a lovely day on the water today” sounds like something you’d overhear at a yacht club, not out on the bounding main! Instead, try, “Me’n’these here scurvy scallywags drug our sorry keesters out t’th’ship’n’had us a grand great adventuaaarrr! We almost had t’keelhaul Mad Connie f’r gettin inter th’ grog behind our backs!” Use contractions whenever possible. Be sure to punctuate often with “Arrrr!”
- Never use “you” or “you’re” – ever. Instead, use the piratical form, “yer” or “ya” for all forms of address to others. “Yer a scurvy bilge rat, ya pompous gasbag” or “Here’s yer dinner, ya mangy cockroach.” Note that you should always endeavor to call the addressee by some insulting name, usually involving an animal.
- Embellish at will. A pirate is larger than life, and his or her speech should always reflect this. Don’t just say, “We saw a whale off the starboard bow today.” Say, “Me’n’th’ crew seen a great grand sea beastie, th’ mother of all whales, aye!”
- Refer to yourself as “me” at all times, never “I” It is not piratically correct to say, “I have a cold.” It is far better as a pirate to declare, “Got me a case o’th’sniffles, ‘ass rye!”
- More importantly, substitute “me” for “my” For example, don’t say, “Look at my new sword,” say “Lookit me new sword!.” Also substitute “meself” for “myself” as in “Got meself a right fine ship!”
- Mutter unintelligibly unless yelling. Being a pirate usually meant being liquored up to some degree – a lot of time, pirates were pretty mush-mouthed. In the step preceding, the term “‘ass rye” actually translates to “that’s right.” Get it?
- Be as loud as humanly possible. Pirates are not shy violets – stand tall, me hearties, and be counted!
- Procure one dead stuffed parrot and sew feet to right shoulder of 2nd hand store jacket. This will put you in the mood to adhere to the above mentioned rules and guarantee an abundance of “yers and arghs”.
Credit should be given to the Talk Like a Pirate official website for some of these definitions of authentic pirate-speak:
- Ahoy! – “Hello!”
- And ye may lay to that! – “You betcha!”
- Arrr! – This is often confused with “arrrrgh,” which is, of course, the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. “Arrrr!”, like “Aloha,” means variously, “yes,” “I agree,” “I’m happy,” “I’m enjoying this beer,” “My team is going to win it all,” “I saw that television show, it sucked!” and “That was a clever remark you or I just made.” And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!
- Avast! – derived from “hold fast”. Stop and give attention. This word, like many pirate words, has multiple meanings, so it can also can be used in place of, “Whoa! Get a load of that!” “Check it out” or “No way!” or “Get off!”
- Aye! – “Yes!”
- Aye aye! – “I understand what you said and I will carry out your order!”
- Be – “Am, is, are.” As in “I (or Me) be goin’ t’ get more grog, he be goin’ t’ get more grog, and they be goin’ t’ get more grog.” This will also avoid confusion between “are” and “arrr” or “arrgh.”
- Beauty – The best possible pirate address for a woman. Always preceded by “me,” as in, “C’mere, me beauty,” or even, “me buxom beauty,” to one particularly well endowed. You’ll be surprised how effective this is.
- Bilge rat – The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It’s loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. Pirates, just like their modern-day counterparts (regular guys), love to joke and jibe with their buddies. By all means, pirates will call their buddies “bilge rats.”
- Bung hole – It’s the hole in a wooden barrel, usually sealed with a cork. To get what’s in the barrel out, usually, the cork is pried out, opening the bung hole. Saying, “Well, me hearties, let’s see what crawled out of the bung hole” will often be accompanied by the sound of 21st century citizens running for their lives. Yay! Dinner for one, coming up!
- Davy Jones’ Locker – Where the souls of drowned pirates go.
- Grog – An alcoholic drink, usually rum diluted with water, but in this context you could use it to refer to any alcoholic beverage other than beer, and we aren’t prepared to be picky about that, either.
- Hornpipe – Both a single-reeded musical instrument sailors often had aboard ship, and a spirited dance that sailors do. The common term for being filled with lust is “horny,” and hornpipe then has some comical possibilities. “Is that a hornpipe in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me? Or both?”
- Hearties or Matey – Shipmates or friends.
- Lubber – (or land lubber) Where a lubber is a poor seaman, a land lubber is an exceptionally ignorant seaman. In a room where everyone is talking like pirates, lubber is always an insult.
- Motherload – refers to when the largest amount of booty is successfully located.
- Savvy – Ok or understand. As in, “Savvy?” meaning “Do you understand”
- Scrumpet– A name for a women, not the most polite term but not rude either.
- Smartly – Do something quickly. “Smartly, me lass,” you might say when sending the bar maid off for another round. She will be so impressed she might well spit in your beer.
- Scurvy – Well, of course, it’s an awful affliction that used to bedevil buccaneers in days gone by; that’s one reason there was lime juice added to the rum in the water, making grog. So calling someone a “scurvy bilge rat” is even worse than calling him a “bilge rat.”
- Shiver me timbers! – Pirate for “Well, I’ll be” or “Is that so?”.
- Show a Leg! – Phrase to wake up a sailor. “Show a leg!, it be dawn, you scurvy lubber!”.
- Wench – Woman, girl, or waitress. Whatever.
- Yardarm – Not just convenient framework to hang the sails, but often times used as a holding post for the disobedient ol’ salts, as in, “Tie that dawg to the yardarm”.
- Loud and lusty wins the day in Piratespeak!
- The more colorful you are, the more successful you will be as a pirate – why, you might end up as Cap’n!
- Don’t worry about whether people understand you. Just squint with one eye (your good eye, the other should be covered by an enigmatic black patch) and nod meaningfully, as if they do understand, when you’re asked to explain. Saying, “Ayyyyyyyye” softly, and stroking your mustache can also help to persuade them that they did understand you the first time.
- Ar! If you be a practicing pastafarian, ye may wish to punctuate yer greetings with a “His blessings be upon thee, scurvy dog!”
- If you plan to indulge in ale, grog or other piratical spirits, do not attempt to steer your own ship home, matey!
Sources and Citations
- The International Talk Like A Pirate Day site, by Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy – Source of information, shared with permission under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5. Talk like a Pirate day for 2007 is September 19th.
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