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International Talk Like a Pirate Day
International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Type Parodic
Date September 19

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday created in 1996 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon,[1] U.S., who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.[1] For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with "Hello," but with "Ahoy, matey!" The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy. The holiday is a major observance in the parody religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Contents

Background

"Cap'n Slappy" and "Ol' Chumbucket", the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day

According to Summers, the day is the only holiday to come into being as a result of a sports injury. He has stated that during a racquetball game between Summers and Baur, one of them reacted to the pain with an outburst of "Aaarrr!", and the idea was born. That game took place on June 6, 1995, but out of respect for the observance of D-Day, they chose Summers' ex-wife's birthday, as it would be easy for him to remember.[1][2]

At first an inside joke between two friends, the holiday gained exposure when John Baur and Mark Summers sent a letter about their invented holiday to the American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002.[3] Barry liked the idea and promoted the day.[3] Growing media coverage of the holiday after Barry's column has ensured that this event is now celebrated internationally, and Baur and Summers now sell books and T-shirts on their website related to the theme. Part of the success for the international spread of the holiday has been attributed to non-restriction of the idea or trademarking, in effect opening the holiday for creativity and "viral" growth.[4]

Baur and Summers found new fame in the 2006 season premiere episode of ABC's Wife Swap, first aired September 18, 2006. They starred in the role of "a family of pirates" along with John's wife, Tori. Baur also appeared on the June 26, 2008 episode of Jeopardy!, where Johnny Gilbert introduced him as a "writer and pirate from Albany, Oregon."

As the association of pirates with peg legs, parrots, and treasure maps was popularized in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island (1883), the book has had a significant influence on parody pirate culture.[5]

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Linguistic background

Robert Newton as Long John Silver

Actor Robert Newton, who portrayed Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney film Treasure Island and then in the 1954 film Long John Silver, is described as the "patron saint" of Talk Like A Pirate Day.[1] Newton was a native of Dorset, and it was his native West Country dialect, which he used in his portrayal of Long John Silver and Blackbeard, that some contend is the origin of the standard "pirate accent".[6]

The archetypal pirate grunt "Arrr!" (alternatively "Rrrr!" or "Yarrr!") first appeared in the classic 1950 Disney film Treasure Island, according to research by Mark Liberman.[7] His article cites linguistic research that may locate the roots of this phrase much earlier.

Lionel Barrymore is the first believed[citation needed] to have used the "arrrgh" in the first film of Treasure Island from 1934 in an iconic version of Billy Bones. In fact, many believe[citation needed] Barrymore created the first archetype of pirate speak.

Predating these usages is the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance, which is set in Cornwall. Because of the location of major ports in the West Country of England, drawing labor from the surrounding countryside, West Country speech in general, and Cornish speech in particular, may have been a major influence on a generalized British nautical speech.[8]

Examples of pirate sayings

Seamen in the days of sail (as well as today) spoke a language so full of technical jargon as to be nearly incomprehensible to a landlubber. For example, few could follow these instructions:

Lift the skin up, and put into the bunt the slack of the clews (not too taut), the leech and foot-rope, and body of the sail; being careful not to let it get forward under or hang down abaft. Then haul your bunt well up on the yard, smoothing the skin and bringing it down well abaft, and make fast the bunt gasket round the mast, and the jigger, if there be one, to the tie.
Richard Henry Dana, Jr.The Seaman's Manual (1844)

These phrases date back to the 17th century:

If the ship go before the wind, or as they term it, betwixt two sheets, then he who conds uses these terms to him at the helm: Starboard, larboard, the helm amidships... If the ship go by a wind, or a quarter winds, they say aloof, or keep your loof, or fall not off, wear no more, keep her to, touch the wind, have a care of the lee-latch. all these do imply the same in a manner, are to bid him at the helm to keep her near the wind.
—former pirate Sir Henry Mainwaring (see Harland (1984) p.177)

From Lt. Robert Maynard's report of Blackbeard at the Battle of Ocracoke:

He styl'd us 'young puppies' and shouted 'May the Devil take my soul if I ever gives quarter or asks it of ye!'

"Damn ye, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, I'm a better man than all of ye milksops put together" - Blackbeard[9]

The only written records recovered from the Adventure after Blackbeard's death ran as follows.

Such a day, rum all out- Our company somewhat sober- A damned confusion amongst us !- Rogues a-plotting - Great talk of separation- so I looked sharp for a prize- Such a day found one with a great deal of liquor on board, so kept the company hot, damned hot, then things went well again.

Treasure Island

One of the most influential books on popular notions of pirate speech was Treasure Island, a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, from which sample quotes include:

  • "Bring me one noggin of rum, now, won't you, matey."[10]
  • "Avast, there!"
  • "Dead men don't bite."
  • "Shiver my timbers!" (often pronounced as "Shiver me timbers!")
  • "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest — Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"[11]
  • "There! That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out, I will stove in your old block house like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out, ye'll laugh upon the other side. Them that die'll be the lucky ones."
  • "Have I lived this many years, and a son of a rum puncheon cock his hat athwart my hawse at the latter end of it?"[12]

Peter Pan

Peter and Wendy (1911), with Captain Hook and his pirate ship Jolly Roger, contains numerous fictional pirate sayings:

"Avast belay, yo ho, heave to,
A-pirating we go
And if we're parted by a shot
We're sure to meet below!"
"Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life,
The flag o'skull and bones
A merry hour, a hempen rope
And 'hey' for Davy Jones!"

Derivatives

  • Tom Smith has written and recorded the song "Talk Like a Pirate Day," the official anthem of the holiday.[13][14]
  • The holiday is observed by the followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who consider pirates to be the FSM's chosen people.[15]
  • The search engine Google released the Pirate Edition of their homepage on September 19, 2008.[16]
  • On Talk Like a Pirate Day 2008, Facebook allowed its members to choose the language option English (Pirate), which incorporated many pirate terms into the Facebook layout (for example, 'Write on Joe Smith's wall' became 'Scrawl on Joe Smith's plank').[17] The site now offers the option year round.
  • Several MMOs, such as Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, Kingdom of Loathing and Lord of the Rings Online have introduced special events for the day, permitting characters to receive special appearances or special in-game prizes or drops.[18]
  • The UK milk brand Cravendale created an iPhone application for 2008's Talk Like a Pirate Day, which included a pirate sentence creator, as well as a pirate radio that played tracks such as 'Seagulls & Alcohol' by Oa-Seas and 'Arrgh You Lonesome Tonight' by Elvis Presley.[19]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Avast! No lubbers today, ye scurvy bilge rats!(". Highbeam.com. 2003-09-19. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-110174926.html. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  2. ^ The KBIM Pat & Brian Show. Beyond Investigation Magazine. KBIM Webcast, Orange, California. September 19, 2007. 40 minutes in.
  3. ^ a b Dave Barry, "Arrrrr! Talk like a pirate—or prepare to be 'boarded'". September 8, 2002.
  4. ^ Interview with the Founders, Andrew Warner, Sept. 19. 2008.
  5. ^ David Cordingly (1995). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN 0679425608
  6. ^ Bonanos, Christopher (2007-06-05). "Did Pirates Really Say "Arrrr"? The origin of Hollywood's high-seas slang.". Slate. Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Co. http://www.slate.com/id/2167567. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  7. ^ "R!?". Language log, September 19, 2005.
  8. ^ http://www.answers.com/topic/west-country-accent
  9. ^ Pendrand, Norman C. (1975) Blackbeard: The Fiercest Pirate of All.
  10. ^ "Excerpt from Treasure Island". http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=223439&pageno=12. 
  11. ^ "Excerpt from Treasure Island". http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?pageno=4&fk_files=223439. 
  12. ^ "Excerpt from Treasure Island". http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=223439&pageno=115. 
  13. ^ Talk Like A Pirate Day song (MP3), by Tom Smith
  14. ^ Talk Like A Pirate Day song (lyrics), by Tom Smith
  15. ^ "Open Letter to the Kansas School Board". http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/. 
  16. ^ "Slashdot article about International Pirate Day and Google's Pirate homepage". http://entertainment.slashdot.org/entertainment/08/09/19/1156257.shtml/. 
  17. ^ "Blog article about the English (Pirate) mode in Facebook". http://blogs.zdnet.com/weblife/?p=190. 
  18. ^ "World of Warcraft "Pirate's Day" page". http://www.wow-europe.com/en/info/basics/events/piratesday/. 
  19. ^ Farber, Alex (2008-09-19). "Cravendale launches digital campaign for Pirate Day | News | New Media Age". Nma.co.uk. http://www.nma.co.uk/news/cravendale-launches-digital-campaign-for-pirate-day/39685.article. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 

Further reading

  • Harland, John (1984). Seamanship in the Age of Sail. Provides a detailed account of the language used by seamen during the age of sail. ISBN 0-87021-955-3
  • William Clark Russell (1883). Sailors' Language. Dictionary of 19th century sailors' language.

External links



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