How to Talk Like a Pirate

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Ahoy, maties! Hoist the Jolly Roger! Yesterday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day… the only day aside from Halloween that a scurvy landlubber like yerself can walk around saying “Yo ho ho!” and “Arrr!” without sounding like an idiot.

Of course, you won’t sound like a pirate, either —not in the historical sense, at least. But no matter, it’s all in good fun! Here are some tips and key phrases to help you celebrate. You may not even have to wait until next year- some events are taking place over the weekend.

Get in Character

Grab a pirate hat, an eye patch or just a bottle of rum. Don’t just talk like a pirate; walk like one, too. The rum will help.

Find Some Mates

International Talk Like A Pirate Day keeps getting bigger every year. Check the map on the Talk Like a Pirate Day homepage for events close to you. With your roguish charm, you may even be able to commandeer drinks, pastries and other booty from local businesses.

Learn the Lingo

The most important part of Talk Like a Pirate Day is talking like a pirate. Here’s a quick primer of some of the most important phrases:

Arrr- Arrr! can mean pretty much anything, from approval to excitement to dismay. It’s all in the tone, really.

Matey, mate- A friend.

Grog: a mixture of rum and water.

Scurvy- someone suffering from scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. Scurvy used to be fairly common amongst sailors on long voyages. Symptoms included such unpleasantries as open, pus-filled wounds, lost teeth, jaundice, nerve damage and death. In other words, this is not a compliment.

Scalawag: a rascal or a worthless person. Originally, this term meant “worthless farm animal.”

Bilge rat: The sailor in charge of draining the bilge on a ship ( a nasty and dirty job).

Rules to remember:

  • Ye replaces you or your
  • Me replaces my

Looking for a more advanced vocabulary ?

  • Mango Languages has a free course in “Pirate.”
  • There’s an app for that.
  • The “Talk Like a Pirate” website has key phrases in English, German and Dutch.

Want to be more historically accurate? Learn some Pitkern,a creole language that was formed in the 18th century when a group of mutinous sailors made off with the ship “The Bounty.” They took Tahitian wives (and some slaves,) settled the previously uninhabited Pitcairn Island and eventually killed each other off- but not before the Pitkern language evolved to help them communicate with their new families. It is still spoken today.

How did you celebrate “Talk Like a Pirate Day?”

Photo credit: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Olivier Bruchez