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September 19, 2005

Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:46 PM * 78 comments

Ahoy, maties! Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Don’t forget ter get yer sea dog name, too.

Pirate Macon the Staggering Drunk
Comments on Arrr!:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 02:58 PM:

Q) How much did it cost the pirate to get his ears pierced?

A) A buck an ear!

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:00 PM:

Tomorrow is, of course, International Talk Like A Geographer day.

Also discuss.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:03 PM:

Looks like I have a choice between Red Sam Flint, John Black Cash, and Cap'n Norm Dullblade.

Yo ho, yo ho!

#4 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:04 PM:

Patrick: Tomorrow is, of course, International Talk Like A Geographer day. Also discuss.

Ithsmus be the dopiest holiday I ever heard of.

#5 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:05 PM:

PNH: Oooh, is it?

Signed, geographer-in-training.

Also, realms! Regions! Multinodal! Exogenous processes! Water table! Barchan dunes!

Um. I may need more training at this.

#6 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:06 PM:

I stopped at one name. I'm Captain Mary Cash. Arr!

#7 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:07 PM:

Awww, dammit. Isthmus. Isthmus. Isthmus.


#8 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Arrr! I'm Edmund the Fashionably Late! Arrr!

#9 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:19 PM:

Aye, I've been interjecting with salty adjectives and groggy anecdotes all day, mateys. Get yer dialog out there on the plank with the rest of us, arr...

#10 ::: Jackmormon ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:21 PM:

Accordin' to Jim's first link--complete with personality quiz!--I am Mad Mary Flint, sa-ha!

The second dubs me Cap'n Calla Fancypants! an' the third, The Blood-Letter. Belay these scurvy linkses!

#11 ::: Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:21 PM:

How many years before we see International Talk Like A Terrorist day?

I mean, weren't the pirates pretty much the terrorists of their time, hindering international trade?

Whatif... ...whatif we transposed pirates to today and Al-Quaeda to the 17th or 18th century?


#12 ::: Paula Kate ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:23 PM:

Cap'n Alena Cannonbait 'ere. Reef them stuns'ls! Look lively, ye scabrous bags o' bones!

#13 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:25 PM:

There's a pretty good case to be made that terrorists are pirates and should be treated as such under the law.

Hostis humani generis and all that.

#14 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:28 PM:

Black Jenny Vane here, attempting to right the course of world weather, as elucidated by the pastafarians, followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who have demonstrated that the decrease in pirates over the years has led to global warming.

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:33 PM:

First: Red Mary Flint
Second: Ursula the Cash-Strapped
Third: Captain Keelhauler

I kind of like Ursula the Cash-strapped, though it doesn't sound very piratical.

Now, where did I leave that cutlass --

#16 ::: janet ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:39 PM:

My pirate name is:

Dirty Anne Flint

I'm the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of me, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Like the rock flint, I'm hard and sharp. But, also like flint, I'm easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

#17 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Anyone who's read John McPhee's Waiting for a Ship knows that piracy is alive and well on the high seas.

They just have Zodiacs and Uzis instead of longboats and cutlasses.

Back to the intended tone of the thread: wonder if the letter of the day on Sesame Street is "R"?

#18 ::: Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:42 PM:

There's a pretty good case to be made that terrorists are pirates and should be treated as such under the law.

Quick! Make movies glorifying them and declare international days of...

...oops, that's what happened, hasn't it?

#19 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:48 PM:

Me choices be Iron Ann Kidd, Pirate Aurora the Pale, or Red Baldwin The Terrible.
That's easier than fallin off a plank! Ye better be callin' me Red Baldwin the Terrible, or it be worse fer ye!

Now where's the grog?

#20 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:48 PM:

Lila: indeed, as the Weekly Piracy report tells us.

#21 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:54 PM:

Arr! Of the three, the one I like best is:

Cannibal Drake Ironman

or, well, "Candiman" for short :D

#22 ::: Jezebel ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 04:11 PM:

'Tis a little known secret that the originators of Talk Like A Pirate Day always celebrate "Please, God, Stop Talking Like Pirates Day" on Sept. 20th.

#23 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 04:19 PM:

The names of these pirates, the Doctor thought, were not dissimilar to those of pigeons; a panoply of blacks and shades of gray, colourful in adjectives rather than hues.

As to the pirates as agents of political transformation, he had made some notes upon the subject, which indicated that their primary purpose was taking things from ships and trading them for rum and intimate favours, in places ranging from Tortuga to Whitehall. Some did affect views on individual freedom, though these would have rattled the brains of a Paine or a Wollstonecraft, and the notion that they were a seething mass of nautical Robespierres would not stand the light.

It was good to have an enemy, he reflected, and it was good to have an enemy who believed odd things that were incompatible with one's own views. He had encountered sailors from English towns that were fiercely proud of having been sacked by ships scattered from the Armada. While the only evidence of such pillage was here a stack of cannonballs and there a public house named "Ye Dead Spaniardo," every man from those villages stood ready, centuries later, to take the battle back to Philip II, with his dreadful religion and his incomprehensible consonants.

In Celebration of Talk Like Dr. Stephen Maturin Day

#24 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 04:27 PM:

Arrgh John M. Ford! I'm raiding that there piece o' writing and puttin' it with my swag fer me shipmates!

[of course w/ proper attribution]

Black Jenny Vane

#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 04:33 PM:

The romantic imagery of piracy arises in part from the confused history, particularly the privateer, and the adventurers of the Elizabethan Age. When there was only a small, ill-funded, military, war became a field to be exploited by private enterprise. Drake filled his own pockets, and the Queen's. Troops were raised by private contractors. The Navy was built on the promise of prize money, looting and pillage sanctioned by law.

It all sounds very familiar, doesn't it.

And the notorious pirate, Henry Morgan, became the governor of Jamaica. Captain Kidd was eventually hanged because he hadn't gotten his paperwork right.

Hold on, this thread isn't supposed to be political?

#26 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 04:58 PM:

Arrrr! Hoist out the grog!

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:04 PM:

Does anybody know where Dr. Stephen Mathurin got his name? "Mathurin" makes me smile because that was the name of a duckling in a French series of live-action shorts about talking animals.

#28 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:10 PM:

Me granddaughter, Maddison, age 10 and her best friend be dressing up as Ann Bonney and Mary Read, and their other best friend as Madame Ching. We be pushing for a Grania O'Malley somewhere in the mix. I best be gettin out me pirate duds. (Sort of like milk duds, only not as classy.) Arrrrrr.

Jane Yolen
author of PIRATES IN PETTICOATS (McKay 1963)
and in 2007 THE SEA QUEENS (Charlesbridge) Arrrrrr.

#29 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:25 PM:

Stopped drumlin up interest in Talk Like A Geographer Day, have we?

Calico Bess Flint

#30 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:52 PM:

what's thar to say w/ talk like a geographer any how? sw 40 degrees by nw 50 degrees gets real old after awhile (big piraty grin here)

#31 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Je m'appelle Bluebeard.

#32 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 06:16 PM:

Je m'appelle Bluebeard.

Welcome aboard Honeymoon Cruise Lines. We'll be having a Mixed Doubles Lifeboat Drill shortly, but first, I'd like to welcome you aboard, and ask you all not to go in the starboard aft cabin -- that's right side, back end of the floating thing -- on C Deck, that's the one with the large C on it. Really, don't go there. Thanks awfully.

#33 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Has everyone seen Julia's photoshop work in celebration of the day?


#34 ::: Standpipe Bridgeplate ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 06:23 PM:

If I may say so myself, I think this is so awful it deserves wider scorn.

#35 ::: John Lansford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 06:24 PM:

Arrg! I be Dirty John Roberts, I am!

#36 ::: Sian Hogan ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 06:34 PM:

I got Captain Bess Flint, Pirate Ursula the Parrotless and (worryingly) Musket Max.

Favourite pirate quote: Aaaarrrrr! Many's the night I've dreamed of cheese... toasted, mostly.

Unfortunately, no one here seems likely to talk like a pirate at all. Which is a pity, even though it WOULD be endorsing robbery, extortion and terrorism in bygone ages. Bygone ages can look after themselves.

#37 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 07:31 PM:

Serge: I dunno. There was an author Charles Maturin who wrote _Melmoth the Wanderer_, which I haven't read, but flagged for O'Brian-ism because it has (IIRC) a shipwreck and a creepy doctor in it.

#38 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 09:13 PM:

Arrr... Shiver me timbers and tickle me elmo! Arrrr...

/Heartless Harry

#39 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 09:17 PM:

Then, obviously, what Patrick meant to say earlier was:

From another o' th' many books ne'er cracked at Yale by that horn swogglin' landed-lubber who ortin' t' be keel hauled:

When resources be exhausted, then levies be made under pressure. When power an' resources be exhausted, then th' homeland be drained. Th' common swabbies be deprived o' seventy percent o' the'r budget, while th' government’s expenses fer equipment amount t' sixty percent o' th' budget. Ya lily livered scurvy cur!

— Black Sam Rackham
aka Pirate Butch the Hatless
aka Mighty Ripper
Th' Art o' War

Yammer on!

#40 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 09:19 PM:

Avast, Frownin' Misty Straw here. O'course, I've no idee what I be frownin' about...

#41 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 09:23 PM:

Talkin' pirate-like be no more t'endorse robbin', extortin', tort reformin', barratry, sodomy, or simony than speakin' Shakespearean-like be to justify doin' in yer uncle, or bein' an uncle wot does in anybody in th' immejit vicinity, hidin' in boxes in ladies' bedrooms, or holdin' interestin' banquets. Or that havin' yer parley in BBC English means yer either an Ancient Roman or a Time Lord.

Besides the which, some o' the early lot spoke like Jacobean gen'lemuns, like in yer fine best-sellery book Forever Up Yer Amber, while yer modern sea-rover, he don't talk much but prefers goin' Bang Bang Spee-yow a lot while shoutin' in various untranslatered dialecks. F'r all I know, he's sayin' "Ho, Mister Pitt, prepare to fire on the uproll and have each man stand fast for boarding, accept any offered surrender and harm no ladies," but I figger it's more like "Will ye just bloody die already?"

Purely a piratical opinion, though. Arr.

#42 ::: Nancy Wallace ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 10:01 PM:

Arr! We'll be keelhauling Mr. Gates and throwing his buggy, bloated product overboard to Davey Jones!

...oh! You mean it's not "Talk Like a Software Pirate Day"?


#43 ::: Clifton Royston, I mean Dread Pirate Rackham ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 10:05 PM:

Seen today on a mailing list where I had been promulgating "Talk Like A Pirate Day:"

... notes that much of what passes for piratical dialect is really just Dorset writ weird. Oo arr. More zider.

... If every pirate sounded like Robert Newton, they WOULD be Dorset writ weird. Henry Avery, Edward Teach, and Ned Low among others were all from the West Country, so they pretty much would have sounded like that. Others would have spoken different dialects.

It had never occurred to me to wonder where our stereotype of pirate talk came from. A fascinating thought that it might be based on real dialect spoken by specific pirate crews.

#44 ::: Michael Rawdon ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 10:11 PM:

Dang, and here I thought it was Talk Like a Prat day!

#45 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 11:21 PM:

Clifton, I think the point is that it's the dialects of "specific pirate crews" from specific motion pictures. We haven't got audio from the era, and the best record of the Common Speech is probably some of the drama (if I were going to try an Authentick Jacobean Phonification, I might start with Bartholomew Fair.*) The "Arr, me hearties, shiver the farthingales" routine comes pretty late in the run of Pirate Movies, as it can be sourced to Robert Newton in Blackbeard the Pirate (Raoul Walsh, 1952). The main act of theft is Newton vs. the other actors (and considering that he's up against Torin Thatcher as Henry Morgan, this is an achievement). Tyrone Power never talked like that, nor did Laird Cregar, and thank god nobody thought to have Maureen O'Hara try it; Errol Flynn's crew in Captain Blood have a nice assortment of British accents, but they're not career pirates, they're just in an entrepreneurial role while waiting for regime change. Even the Penzance crowd doesn't do a lot of Arrring or timber-shivering, though the actual amount varies by production. (And anyway, they are all RADA men who have gone wrong.)

*In consideration of which, it is finally agreed, by the foresaid hearers, and spectators, that they neyther in themselues conceale, nor suffer by them to be concealed any State-decipherer, or politique Picklocke of the Scene, so solemnly ridiculous, as to search out, who was meant by the Ginger-bread-woman, who by the Hobby-horse-man, who by the Costard-monger, nay, who by their Wares. Or that will pretend to affirme (on his owne inspired ignorance) what Mirror of Magistrates is meant by the Iustice, what great Lady by the Pigge-woman, what conceal'd States-man, by the Seller of Mouse-trappes, and so of the rest.
-- Ben Jonson, 1631

#46 ::: The REAL "Dread Pirate Robert" Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 11:45 PM:

Dread Pirate Rackham muses: It had never occurred to me to wonder where our stereotype of pirate talk came from.

Similarly, the stereotypical 'pirate eyepatch' comes from buckaneers desperately shooting the sun with a simple sextant. A few years of that would rather tend to burn out your retina. Arrr.

#47 ::: Calico Bess Bonney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 12:38 AM:

I liked Calico Bess a lot, but one of the generators gave me:

"Parrot-Got-Me-Eye" Corliss

And I think that's absolutely grand. Arrr!

#48 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 12:59 AM:

Cap'n Yvette Knockboots

or else Wilhelm the Dense

#49 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 01:10 AM:

My three pirate names, and reactions to them:

Mad Roger Rackham - Well, it's OK I guess....

Dagger Wilson - Not half bad....

Eel Skin Isaac - Arrrr!!!!

#50 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 01:28 AM:

Hmm, my lovely wife Michelle turns out to be one Mighty Ripper, while I prove on inspection to be Mad Dog Melvin! Not sure what to be more boggled about. Arr!

#51 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 01:32 AM:

An' be it duly noted, mateys, that the Pittsburgh Pirates made the Houston Astros walk the plank, 7-0.


#52 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 03:38 AM:

I saw a note on the intranet that one of our local offices was having a pirate-themed dress-down-day for Talk Like A Pirate Day, with charitable collections and, oh, I don't know, plunder and so on. There's something about this meme that just seems to catch on everywhere, as if the world was short of totally stupid public celebrations or something. Arrr.

#53 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 05:59 AM:

I be able to choose Mad Sam Rackham (and a hearty "avast ye" to brother Roger), "Quadruped" Edmund Slasher, or "You cannot access the following Web address". That last one don't sound too authentic if you ask me.

#54 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 06:02 AM:

The world is short a couple of stupid celebrations. We've got the midwinter solstice and dress-up day on the quarterday at the beginning of Winter, and that chocolate egg day which moves about but is usually somewhere between the vernal equinox and the quarterday at the start of summer.

The Scandanavians still make a big deal of Midsommar, but it's not big elsewhere, so we're one down there. Chinese New Year falls a bit before the February quarter day, and many places still celebrate May day.

International Talk Like A Pirate Day is near enough to the Autumnal equinox to resonate with our genetic need to party as world progresses along its orbit.

#55 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 06:38 AM:

...they're just in an entrepreneurial role while waiting for regime change.

Arrrrrrn't we all?

#56 ::: Emil ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 07:58 AM:

Ahoy there, Mr Ford, you infernal bugger! Jump down to the orlop and write me out some more PO'B novels.

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 08:50 AM:

I wonder what logic the pirate name generator follows... My wife became Cap'n Amora Cutthroat, which isn't shabby at all, but I apparently am Melancholy Bradford Jones. Arrrr!!!

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 08:57 AM:

I think I saw that Blackbeard movie years ago, John. It was quite odd, if memory serves me right. This image popped in my head of Blackbeard buried in sand up to his neck. And the tide comes in and submerges him and he's still alive and he looks REALLY pissed off.

#59 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 09:52 AM:

So, I was tryin' to get through the long hours of the grraveyarrd watch, an' around midnight I succeeded in teachin' me parrot to say "Compass Rose! Terminator! Prime Meridian!"

D'ye think I should name him "Segue"?

#60 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 10:00 AM:


OK...that's enough piraticisms for me for a year.

#61 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 11:51 AM:

Hey, where did my insurance company get to? I want to make a claim on my piracy policy!

#62 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 11:54 AM:

A day late and a doubloon short, but here 'tis: "I'm not going to play the blame game."

#63 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 02:13 PM:

DD was the _only_ child at school to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day. She went in with her pirate hat, cutlass, and spyglass, and "arr"'d at everyone in sight.

Clearly, next year I have to prep the teacher . . . .

Meanwhile, we had great fun pretending to be woman pirates and part of an all-female pirate crew.

Sign me Mad Bess Flint

#64 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 09:01 PM:

Arrr! Thar be Talk Like a Pirate Day photos at Flickr, maties.

#65 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 08:29 AM:

This was particularly eerie for me, given that my own imagination of Stephen Maturin has always included a large amount of Mike Ford.

#66 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 10:47 AM:

In Celebration of Talk Like Dr. Stephen Maturin Day

Mike... this is astonishing. Bravo.

#67 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 11:10 AM:

Mike's like that. I sent him a love-note a la pirate, and I got back one in Maturin.


#68 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2007, 07:06 PM:

#23 John M. Ford: In Celebration of Talk Like Dr. Stephen Maturin Day

You have debauched our sloth!

#69 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Has anyone else discovered the charms of the "Bloody Jack" series by L.A. Meyer--which is kind of a pirate/finishing school/Aubrey-Maturin/Hornblower esque series for young adults?

I don't want my two-year-old to grow up any faster, but when she does, I can't wait to hand her these!

#70 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Even the Penzance crowd doesn't do a lot of Arrring or timber-shivering

That's because they're not real pirates--just noblemen who have Gone Wrong

#71 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Yet for all their faults, they love their Queen!

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 12:48 PM:

In that case they'd better resume their ranks and ceremonial duties, and take my daughters* -- all of whom are beauties.

* Completely imaginary, I hasten to add.

#73 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2007, 01:28 PM:

WORF: You have always used your knowledge of Klingon honor and tradition to get what you want from me.

PICARD: That's because it always works. Your problem, Worf, is that you really do have a sense of honor... you really do care about things like loyalty and trust.

WORF: (after a pause) Well, you have appealed to my sense of duty, and my duty is only too clear. I abhor your infamous calling; I shudder at the thought that I have ever been mixed up with it; but duty is before all -- at any price I will do my duty.

PICARD: Bravely spoken! Come, you are one of us once more.

One of these days, I really would like to see that operetta as it was meant to be seen: in the original Klingon.

#74 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2012, 05:49 PM:

I skipped this thread in 2005, because I hate pirates. I just read it now because Doug linked to Mike's Maturin post, and so I got all this spontaneous Mike goodness at once.

I miss him.

I miss him when I'm in Minneapolis and he seems to be around every corner, and I miss hearing from him, and I miss having more books, but most of all I miss him every day right here on Making Light. The threads are still here but he isn't there burbling out brilliance any more.

#75 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2012, 07:14 PM:

I never met Mike, Jo, but he was always kind to us, the blogosphere's then-newbies.

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