Blog Excerpts

Expand Your Piratical Vocabulary!

Avast, ye mateys! Did you know that September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Arrrr, it's true! We've got some suggestions for sounding properly piratical.

First, check out the official website for the holiday. Ever wonder why the arrr sound is associated with pirates? Read Erin McKean's Boston Globe column to learn how the signature sound filtered through England's West Country and Hollywood depictions of pirates.

Next, check out the Saturday Night Live sketch "Pirates Convention" with Peter Sarsgaard:

(If you're unable to see the video, you can access the transcript here.)

Then check out our arrr-ful list of piratical vocabulary: "Card Sharp, Argy-bargy, Arctic Char and Other Words Pirates Might Like to Say."

Finally, you can read our own Ben Zimmer riffing on the arrr sound here and on pirate history here.

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Comments from our users:

Sunday September 23rd 2012, 9:07 AM
Comment by: Susan D.
Is anyone other than me bothered by this fascination with pirates? I mean, think about it: pirates are bad people. They steal. They kill. I can understand children being fascinated by pirates: the notion of running away to sea, not having to follow any rules, not having to get a job. But once you grow up, there should be a point at which you think about all the rest of the pirate way of life, and reject it.
Sunday September 23rd 2012, 4:30 PM
Comment by: John R. (Rochester, NY)
I agree, Susan D.
Thursday October 4th 2012, 11:27 PM
Comment by: Mrs. Madrona (Philippines)
Friday October 12th 2012, 5:15 PM
Comment by: Mickie T. (Phoenix, AZ)
Sir Francis Drake was considered a pirate in Spain and a hero in Great Britan. Columbus may have been a pirate depending on what stories you believe. Pirate or patriot? The life of a "pirate" or privateer was hardly glamorous due to the realities of scurvy, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, maggots and hard tack. People are still "running away to sea" but I wouldn't label members of the US Navy or Marines as pirates. If the objection to pirates is that it fosters an unrealistic career path, then add astronaut and explorer to the list. Then add all the other things - ballerina, cowboy, super model and comic book super hero. If the objection is that pirates are not good role models then one would have to reject world and religious leaders, sports figures, politicians and mad scientists. Modern life lacks the swashbuckling adventure engendered by living life on the high seas in a wooden boat with sails or traveling in a space ship to a new world.

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