Saturday, September 23, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Pirate lingo is rich and complicated, sort of like a good stew. There are several other sites that offer glossaries that are pretty good, and you can find some of them on our links page.
But if you just want a quick fix, a surface gloss, a "pirate patina," if you will, here are the five basic words that you cannot live without. Master them, and you can face Talk Like a Pirate Day with a smile on your face and a parrot on your shoulder, if that's your thing.
Ahoy! - "Hello!"
Avast! - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"
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."
Arrr! - This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!
Once you've mastered the basics, you're ready to start expanding your pirate vocabulary. Try these for starters
Beauty – The best possible pirate address for a woman. Always preceded by “me,” as in, “C’mere, me beauty,” or even, “me buxom beauty,” to one particularly well endowed. You’ll be surprised how effective this is.
Bilge rat – The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It’s loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. On TLAP Day – A lot of guy humor involves insulting your buddies to prove your friendship. It’s important that everyone understand you are smarter, more powerful and much luckier with the wenches than they are. Since bilge rat is a pretty dirty thing to call someone, by all means use it on your friends.
Bung hole – Victuals on a ship were stored in wooden casks. The stopper in the barrel is called the bung, and the hole is called the bung hole. That’s all. It sounds a lot worse, doesn’t it? On TLAP Day – When dinner is served you’ll make quite an impression when you say, “Well, me hearties, let’s see what crawled out of the bung hole.” That statement will be instantly followed by the sound of people putting down their utensils and pushing themselves away from the table. Great! More for you!
Grog – An alcoholic drink, usually rum diluted with water, but in this context you could use it to refer to any alcoholic beverage other than beer, and we aren’t prepared to be picky about that, either. Call your beer grog if you want. We won’t stop you! Water aboard ship was stored for long periods in slimy wooden barrels, so you can see why rum was added to each sailor’s water ration – to kill the rancid taste. On TLAP Day – Drink up, me hearties! And call whatever you’re drinking grog if you want to. If some prissy pedant purses his lips and protests the word grog can only be used if drinking rum and water, not the Singapore Sling you’re holding, keelhaul him!
Hornpipe – Both a single-reeded musical instrument sailors often had aboard ship, and a spirited dance that sailors do. On TLAP Day – We are not big fans of the capering, it’s not our favorite art form, if you will, so we don’t have a lot to say on the subject, other than to observe that the common term for being filled with lust is “horny,” and hornpipe then has some comical possibilities. “Is that a hornpipe in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me? Or both?”
Lubber – (or land lubber) This is the seaman’s version of land lover, mangled by typical pirate disregard for elocution. A lubber is someone who does not go to sea, who stays on the land. On TLAP Day – More likely than not, you are a lubber 364 days of the year. But not if you’re talking like a pirate! Then the word lubber becomes one of the more fierce weapons in your arsenal of piratical lingo. In a room where everyone is talking like pirates, lubber is ALWAYS an insult.
Smartly – Do something quickly. On TLAP Day – “Smartly, me lass,” you might say when sending the bar maid off for another round. She will be so impressed she might well spit in your beer.
(We came up with these in an effort to interest The Other Dave (Letterman) in TLAPD. His staff liked 'em, but alas, his show was"dark" the week of Sept. 19.)
10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?
9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?
8. Come on up and see me urchins.
7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.
6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.
5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?
4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?
3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.
2. Well blow me down?
And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …
1. Prepare to be boarded.
Bonus pickup lines (when the ones above don't work, as they often won't)
They don’t call me Long John because my head is so big.
You’re drinking a Salty Dog? How’d you like to try the real thing?
Wanna shiver me timbers?
I’ve sailed the seven seas, and you’re the sleekest schooner I’ve ever sighted.
Brwaack! Polly want a cracker? … Oh, wait. That’s for Talk Like a PARROT Day.
That’s the finest pirate booty I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Let's get together and haul some keel.
That’s some treasure chest you’ve got there.
Top Ten Pickup Lines for the Lady Pirates
By popular demand ...
10. What are YOU doing here?
9. Is that a belayin' pin in yer britches, or are ye ... (this one is never completed)
8. Come show me how ye bury yer treasure, lad!
7. So, tell me, why do they call ye, "Cap'n Feathersword?"
6. That's quite a cutlass ye got thar, what ye need is a good scabbard!
5. Aye, I guarantee ye, I've had a twenty percent decrease in me "lice ratio!"
4. I've crushed seventeen men's skulls between me thighs!
3. C'mon, lad, shiver me timbers!
2. RAMMING SPEED!
...and the number one Female Pirate Pick-up Line:
1. You. Pants Off. Now!
Or, in another vernacular, we are guys, John Baur and Mark Summers. And that really should be all you need to know about the origins of Talk Like a Pirate Day. We're guys. Not men, with responsibility and suits and power ties. We're guys, with all that that implies. But here are the details.
Once upon a time -- on June 6, 1995, to be precise -- we were playing racquetball, not well but gamely. It wasn't our intention to become "the pirate guys." Truth to tell, it wasn't really our intention to become anything, except perhaps a tad thinner and healthier, and if you could see our photos, you'd know how THAT turned out. As we flailed away, we called out friendly encouragement to each other -"Damn, you bastard!" and "Oh, jeez, my hamstring!" for instance - as shots caromed away, unimpeded by our wildly swung rackets.
On this day, for reasons we still don't quite understand, we started giving our encouragement in pirate slang. Mark suspects one of us might have been reaching for a low shot that, by pure chance, might have come off the wall at an unusually high rate of speed, and strained something best left unstrained. "Arrr!," he might have said.
Who knows? It might have happened exactly that way.
Anyway, whoever let out the first "Arrr!" started something. One thing led to another. "That be a fine cannonade," one said, to be followed by "Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!" and other such helpful phrases.
By the time our hour on the court was over, we realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. We decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day.
First, we needed a date for the holiday. As any guy can tell you, June 6 is the anniversary of World War II's D-Day. Guys hold dates like that in reverence and awe so there was no way we could use June 6.
Mark came up with September 19. That was and is his ex-wife's birthday, and the only date he could readily recall that wasn't taken up with something like Christmas or the Super Bowl or something. We also decided -- right then and there on the court on June 6, 1995 -- that the perfect spokesman for our new holiday was none other than Dave Barry himself, nationally syndicated humor columnist and winner of the Pulitzer by-God Prize. So, naturally, we forgot all about it.
For seven years we celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day pretty much on our own, with our friend Brian Rhodes actually reminding us that the event was coming up. Frankly, we usually forgot exactly when Talk Like a Pirate Day was supposed to be or even that there was such a thing. Brian is one of those guys who programs every important event into his computer so that a reminder pops up the day before. John and Mark may be the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day, but Brian is certainly the midwife, or godfather or something. (Have a cigar, Brian!)
Things would probably have continued indefinitely on that low-key note until John, Mark and Brian were little old pirates in the Home for Retired Sea Dogs. We had a national holiday that almost nobody knew about, and we were content with that.
Except for one happy accident. One day in early 2002, John chanced upon Dave Barry's e-mail address. As the entire universe knows, Dave Barry is a syndicated columnist and the author of somewhere between four and 6,000 books and the second funniest man in the universe. We were two guys (three if you count Brian, and that seems only fair,) but Dave (we call him Dave now, though he probably doesn't know it. Mr. Barry would probably be more appropriate, but, well, you know.) anyway, Dave is like a whole parade with brass bands and elephants. We reasoned that Dave would be able to bring attention to Talk Like A Pirate Day in a way that Mark and John (and Brian) wouldn't be able to if we lived to be 200. Ambition suddenly burned bright, and sending e-mails is a very easy thing to do. Which is why we finally got around to contacting him.
The first e-mail introduced us, and told him about our great idea -- Talk Like a Pirate Day. We knew he wouldn't be able to resist. Then we offered him the only thing we had, the chance to be official national spokesman for the event.
We clicked the send button, casting our bread upon the water, if we may wax Biblical.
Surprisingly, we had an answer in a matter of days. We had assumed a famous guy like Dave Barry would have more important things to do than read the e-mail of a couple of louts with a hare-brained idea. It turns out, louts like us are where he gets a lot of his column material.
It's a great idea, he said, (actually "very excellent" were his exact words, in case you're keeping score.) But then he asked the fatal question.
"Have you guys actually DONE anything about this? Or are you counting on me to carry the ball here?"
Very perceptive of him. The way we answered would be crucial in bringing Barry aboard. We decided on the truth, with a lot of ass kissing thrown in.
"Well, we've talked like pirates every Sept. 19, and we've encouraged our several friends to," John wrote in reply. And Mark put it in perspective when he wrote, "We are dinghy-sized-talk-like-a-pirate kinda guys, but you, Dave ... you are like a frigate-huge-sized-talk-like-a-pirate kinda guy."
In early September, John got a phone call from the feature editor at the local paper, someone he had worked with for several years before leaving the newspaper business (But that's a different story.) She sounded confused.
"John, I was editing this week's Dave Barry column and it's about ... Is this you?"
It was. The nationally syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning writer of "distinguished commentary" (the Pulitzer committee's description, not his own) became convinced of the great potential of such a holiday. Or maybe he had run out of fresh column ideas and didn't want to do another one on toilet training his infant daughter. Either way, he had written the column.
And hell broke loose.