Arrr… Official Talk Like A Pirate Day
Avast, me hearties! Once a goofy idea celebrated by a handful of friends, “Talk Like A Pirate Day” has turned into an international phenomenon that shows no sign of letting up. From South Africa to the South Pole, from New York to the Pacific Northwest, everyone now has their own personal excuse to party like pirates every September 19th.
How It All Began
Once upon a time, in June 6, 1995, to be precise, John Baur and Mark Summers came up with this idea over a game of racquetball – they were not playing very well. Their calls of friendly encouragement to each other quickly turned into pirate slang: they are still not entirely sure how it all started. Anyway, whoever let out the first “Arrr!” started something. One thing led to another. “That be a fine cannonade,” one said, to be followed by “Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!” and other such helpful phrases.
After their hour on the court was over, they realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. They decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day. Since then, for seven years the two celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day pretty much on their own with a few friends. This particular day of pirate slang, however, might have remained virtually unknown if it had not been for one happy accident. One day in early 2002, John Baur chanced upon Dave Barry’s e-mail address. Dave Barry is a syndicated columnist, Pulitzer Prize winning author, and humorist.
After contacting him, John Baur and Mark Summers assumed a famous guy like Dave Barry would have more important things to do than read the e-mail of a couple of goofy guys with a hare-brained idea. It turns out, it was perfect material for his column and the idea exploded. Chat rooms all over the Web have been deluged with “Arrs” and “me hearties” and such. Radio stations were abuzz with the story and the two even interviewed with NPR’s All Things Considered. They tapped into something big, much bigger than anyone had ever anticipated: the world was finally introduced to Talk Like A Pirate Day.
What’s The Point?
The point is, there is no point: and that is what’s fun about Talk Like a Pirate Day specifically, and talking like a pirate in general. It gives your conversation a swagger, an elán, denied to landlocked lubbers and the like. The silliness is the holiday’s best selling point and embraces the mere image of swaggering pirateness. So when Sept. 19 rolls around and suddenly tens of thousands of people are saying “arrr” and “Weigh anchor or I’ll keelhaul the lot of you,” it staggers us. They are talking like pirates — not because two guys from the Northwestern United States told them to, but simply because it’s fun.
Basic Pirate Speak
Pirate lingo is rich and complicated. There are several sites online that offer glossaries of vernacular that will assist any aspiring pirate. But if you just want a quick reference, a “pirate patina,” if you will, here are the five basic words that you cannot live without. Master them, and you can face Talk Like a Pirate Day with a smile on your face, a swagger in your step, and a parrot on your shoulder.
Ahoy! – “Hello!”
Avast! – Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, “Whoa! Get a load of that!” which today makes it more of a “Check it out” or “No way!”
Aye! – “Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did.”
Aye aye! – “I’ll get right on that sir, as soon as I adjust the hook.”
Arrr! – This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. “Arrr!” can mean, variously, “yes,” “I agree,” “I’m happy,” ” “My team is going to win it all,” and “That was a clever remark you or I just made.” And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!
So be sure to enjoy Talk Like A Pirate Day this September 19th, and embrace the silliness. And be sure to follow the piratical John Baur and Mark Summers on their Facebook Fan Page – more than 15,000 fans strong – complete with a live feed of The Poopdeck newsletter. Or check them out on Twitter under “thecapnslappy“.