International Talk Like a Pirate Day
(ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday
invented in 1995 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Portland, Oregon
, who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate
. For example, an observer of this holiday
would greet friends not with "Hello," but with "Ahoy, me hearty!" The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy
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.
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. Barry liked the idea and promoted the day. 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.
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 he was introduced as a "writer and pirate."
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 the patron saint of Talk Like A Pirate Day. 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 has become the standard "pirate accent". 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.
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 landsman. For example, few could follow these instructions:
These phrases date back to the 17th century:
From Lt. Robert Maynard's report of Blackbeard at the Battle of Ocracoke:
"Damn ye, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, I'm a better man than all of ye milksops put together" - Blackbeard
The only written records recovered from the Adventure after Blackbeard's death ran as follows.
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.
- "Avast, there!"
- "Dead men don't bite."
- "Shiver my timbers!" (often pronounced as "Shiver me timbers!")
- "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest -- Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
- "There! That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out, I'll 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?"
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. His article cites linguistic research that may locate the roots of this phrase much earlier.
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!"
- Tom Smith has written and recorded the song "Talk Like a Pirate Day," the quasi-official anthem of the holiday.
- The holiday is observed by the followers of the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who consider pirates to be divine beings.
- The search engine Google released the Pirate Edition of their homepage on September 19, 2008.
- 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 Smiths wall' became 'Scrawl on Joe Smiths plank').
- The online site Neopets changes their Neoboards every year so that certain words are replaced with pirate sayings.
- In the Nintendo DS version of The Sims 2, in-game characters celebrate "Talk Like A Pirate Day" on September 19, in which a special quest is released, involving a pirate quiz.
- Several online role-playing games, such as World of Warcraft, have introduced special events for the day, permitting characters to receive special appearances or special in-game prizes or drops.
- 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
How to sites