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Pirate Talk, Pirate Sayings – How to Talk like a Pirate!

Want to talk like a pirate, or more correctly, be speakin’ loike a poirate? Here you will find all you need to know about Pirate Talk, Pirate Sayings, and how to Talk Like a Pirate! Speak like a real pirate with this easy to follow guide to how to talk like a pirate.

 The Origins of Pirate Speak and Pirate Sayings

The origins of pirate speak are not quite as old as most people think, and to trace the roots of talking like a pirate you have to go back, not to the days of the Spanish Maine, nor the Pirates of the Caribbean, but to the days of Long John Silver and Treasure Island, and the Hollywood film of 1950.

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Treasure Island was a fictional work written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1880 and is the source of just about everything we associate with pirates, including talking like a pirate. Set in South West England the original pirate story tells the tale of Long John Silver, a one legged pirate with a parrot on his shoulder that repeatedly said ‘pieces of eight, pieces of eight’.

Long John Silver hailed from Bristol, so he spoke in the manner of a Bristol seaman, and a real rascal he was too. The cabin boy was Jim Hawkins as in ‘Arrrrrrrh Jim Lad’, and the story featured other characters with scars, tattoos, impaired vision, and a certain lack of decorum or scruples. (The traditional pirate hook comes from Peter Pan, another great fictional work).

Pirate Speak, Pirate Sayings, How to Talk Like a Pirate

Long John Silver played by Robert Newton. Now ‘e were a proper pirate, aaaaarrrrrh!

For seventy years, it was just a great swashbuckling  adventure story, but in 1950 Disney released the film, giving the starring role to Robert Newton, an actor from Shaftesbury in Dorset, South West England, or the West Country as it is known. So Robert Newton played the role with an embellished version of his own West Country accent, where people say ooooh aaaaaarh a lot, and everyone ‘appen to talk like a pirate as that’s the way they talk around these parts. And if ye ever feel like visitin’ the West Country ye’ll feel at ‘ome cause every day be Talk like a Pirate Day!

 But that’s no reason to be spoilin the fun so me hearties, lets all talk like pirates …

And don’t be forgettin’ – September 19th is the Official Talk Like a Pirate Day.

How to Talk Like a Pirate

General Mannerisms

Say ‘Aaaaar a lot.

Pirate Speak, Pirate Sayings, How to Talk Like a Pirate

Captain Jack Sparrow – Mincey Pirate Oooh er …

Curse a lot but don’t use conventional swear words as this betrays a lack of imagination.

Use the present tense and say ‘I be’ rather than ‘I am’ and use me instead of I whenever possible eg. Got me a terrible snivvle and I be feelin’ loike a rat in a sack.

When addressing others use ‘yer’ and yar instead of you and your, and add some insult while yer at it. Eg ‘Ya filthy robbin’ scumbag’, or Yer be like a boil on a bilge rat’s bum’.

Leave out any unnecessary consonants.

Here are some pirate words and pirate sayings …

Aaaaaaarrhh
Pirates say this a lot to indicate general approval but it doesn’t mean anything, just keep saying it and you’ll be speakin like a pirate – aaaaaaaar

Avast
Derived from hold fast – stop and pay attention

Ahoy
Sailors greeting used by pirates- hello

Aye
Yes – pirates and seamen usually say it twice – aye aye

Begad
Derived from By God

Bilge
Nonsense – the bilges are the lowest part of a sailing ship where everything foul and unpleasant accumulates!

Bilge Rat
An insult (obviously) but usually friendly

Booty
Anything worth purloining – treasure or stolen goods

Buccaneer
Caribbean pirates or pirates in general.

Cat o nine tails
A vicious whip with nine tails, used more by the kings men than pirates

Davey Jones Locker
Bottom of the sea where drowned pirates and mariners go

Dog
Insult or term of endearment – it’s all the same to pirates!

Fiddlers Green
Pirate Heaven – Assumin that pirates ever get to heaven

Fore
Front end of a pirate’s ship – or any other ship

Grog
Alcoholic drink – usually rum and water

Grub
Food – ship’s provisions were often infested with maggots!

Handsomely
Quickly or a job well done

Hearties
Shipmates or friends

Jolly roger
The famous pirate flag

Keelhaul
A punishment where a sailor is dragged under the ship by a rope – usually fatal due to skin being torn off by barnacles> Again a tradition from the Royal Navy rather than a pirate tradition.

Lass
Young woman – usually a complimentary term

Lily livered
Fainthearted – pirates have to be bold as they are hung if caught

Loaded
Drunk

Marooned
Left on a deserted island as a punishment

No quarter
Surrender will not be accepted

Pieces of eight
Money – Specifically when a coin was cut into eight pieces

purloin
Steal or pilfer

Poop deck
Not the toilets! It was the highest deck on larger ships

Poxy
Carrying an infectious disease

Rum
That drink and also an adjective meaning odd or strange

Salt or sea dog
Experienced sailor or pirate

Scurvy
A disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, and a general insult as in you scurvy dog

Shark bait
A threat to enemies – to turn them into shark bait

Shiver me timbers
An expression of surprise you can use when you get bored with saying aaaaar

Swag
Stolen booty or treasure – used by all thieves not just pirates

Swashbucklin’
Fighting at sea, either other pirates or the kings men

Walk the plank
Walk off the end of a plank into the sea to drown

Wench
Unflattering word for girl or woman

Yo ho ho
Pirate laughter

 The Origins of Talk Like a Pirate Day

As for Talk Like a Pirate Day, that was a stupendous inspired sillyness dreamed up by a couple of American blokes mucking about during a game of tennis who started talking to each other in pirate speak for no particular reason, and, discovering that it was a lot of fun, decided that there should be a ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’. The full history of Talk Like a Pirate Day is too long for this site, but serious students of pirate speak can study it further on the websites dedicated to the subject.

Some credit also needs to go the Monty Python Team who inspired the whole world not to take things too seriously, and to have fun and embrace sillyness.

Mind ye, I do believe Robert Newton did us all a great favour. Just imagine if Johnny Depp had got there first with his Captain Jack Sparrow character? On Talk Like a Pirate Day we’d all be mincing around doing an impression of Johnny Depp doing a camp impression of Keith Richards!

 

Pirate Flag

A Jolly Roger – The famous Pirate Flag. there are many versions as each Pirate Captain had their individual one

And don’t forget September 19th is international talk like a pirate day!

Click here for the Official Talk Like a Pirate Day Site – Arrrrgh

 

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