All around the world and even hundreds of miles above it, people celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day every September 19. International Talk Like a Pirate Day is the only holiday on the calendar that encourages people to babble like buccaneers for the sheer, anarchic fun of it. It’s been celebrated by millions of people on all seven continents – yes, even at the South Pole – and on the International Space Station! The holiday was the brainchild (if that’s the right word) of John Baur and Mark Summers, two friends from Albany, Ore., who were playing racquetball when, for reasons that aren’t clear to either of them now, they started insulting each other in pirate jargon. They decided to start Talk Like a Pirate Day, and picked September 19th because it is Summers’ ex-wife’s birthday. The date was stuck in his head and he wasn’t doing anything with it anymore, so it would be easy to remember, Summers said.
From such unlikely seeds was born an international sensation. The two friends – who now go by the
pirate personas of Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy have swashed their buckles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Puget Sound, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Philadelphia. They’ve performed at a glamorous Las Vegas resort, at libraries, bookstores, schools and at several seedy bars. They have two books out, “The Pirates Life: Unleashing Your Inner Buccaneer,” published by Kensington, a hilarious sequel to their first hit, “Pirattitude! So You Wanna Be a Pirate? Here’s How!” published by New American Library.
Talking Like a Pirate – The Beginner’s Course
“Aarr!” is one of what we call “the Five As.” We call them this because that’s the letter they begin with, and our crack mathematics team assures us that there are five of them.
These exclamations are the glue that binds together pirate lingo. Even if you don’t know a bunghole
from a broadside or a mizzenmast from a maidenhead, you can still give your conversation a little pirate panache by injecting these exclamations into yer landlubber lexicon.
Avast – Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, “Whoa! Get a load of that!” when a beautiful woman walks into the room. “Avast! Check out the bowsprit on that fine beauty!” you might say.
Ahoy – “Hello!” Any inference beyond “Hello!” is simply vocal inflection and has nothing to do with the real meaning of the word.
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 my break is over.” We’ve never heard any similarly
colorful expressions for “no,” perhaps because pirates were the type you didn’t want to say no to.
Arr – This one is often confused with arrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. “Arr!” can mean, variously, “yes,” “I agree,” “I’m happy,” “I’m enjoying this beer,” “My team is winning,” “My team is losing,” “I saw that television show, it sucked,” “I am here and alive” and “That was a clever remark you or I just made.” And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of “Arrr!” It’s a little bit like the pirate version of “Oy,” that indispensable Yiddish word that has almost as many meanings as there are ways to pronounce it.
(Excerpt from “Pirattitude!” So You Wanna Be a Pirate? Here’s How!” by John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers, published in 2005 by New American Library. All rights reserved.)
Arr…check the pirate guys out at their website. They have lots of Pirate fun and games, how to get ur Pirate Booty, links to The Official International Talk Like A Pirate Day FaceBook group, and the “Official” TLAPD MySpace page.