Elegant and excellent was that Pyrate’s answer to the great Macedonian Alexander, who had taken him; the King asking him how he durst molest the seas so, he replied with a free spirit: “How darest thou molest the whole earth? But because I do it only with a little ship, I am called Brigand: thou doing it with a great navy art called Emperor.” (St. Augustine, City of God, Book IV)
Sept. 19th has been christened “International Talk Like A Pirate Day” thanks to our mates Cap’n. Slappy & Ol’ Chumbucket – hilarity ensues at their website.
We do try to educate folk in the language o’ Pyrates and other sea going types anywhere we travel; in spite o’ the frequent shouts o’ “Arrr!” (and related Hollywood-isms) – “Avast” maybe, “Ahoy!” certainly, but never “Arrr!” unless yer nickname be “Chum” and ye’ve a hankerin’ to swim in shark infested waters!
Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.
– Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
Pyrates, in fact, speak no differently than anyone else from whate’er port they hail from – what makes it seem different is the vernacular o’ the sea and the mixing o’ many cultures (at a time when cultures weren’t mixing well). On a Pyrate ship ye might easily find Irish, English, Scots, French, Moroccan, West African, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese…and anyone else who climbed aboard! Mix in specific nautical terms (scurvy, bilge rat, sea dog, mizzen, belay…) and ye begin to see why “regular” folk think it’s a whole new language!
So…read a book or three and learn some real Pyrate history (perhaps even the history o’ some o’ yer ancestors) and remember, the correct answer to “What’s a Pyrate’s favourite letter?” is “A Letter O’ Marque”!
Speaking of his ancestors:
According to tradition, some of them were pirates and slavers in Elizabeth’s time. But this is no discredit to them, for so were Drake and Hawkins and the others. It was a respectable trade, then, and monarchs were partners in it. In my time I have had desires to be a pirate myself.
– Mark Twain’s Autobiography, chapter published in the North American Review, Sept. 1907