A-harrgh ‘n’ avast behind! Shiver me timbers ‘n’ blister me barnacles! Look lively now ‘n’ weigh anchor aboard yer good ship Acorn Stairlift to get aloft to yonder poop deck as easy as runnin’ up the Jolly Roger!
Sorry... don't quite know what came over me then... except that ever since 2002, today (September 19th) has been “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”.
Yes, it really does exist, and thanks to the internet it has spread around the globe since it was invented as a spoof public holiday. That was in Albany, USA, where originators John Baur (aka Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (aka Cap’n Slappy) thought it would be fun if, for one day each year, everyone talked like a pirate.
Not just any pirate mind, but the ‘patron saint’ of Talk Like a Pirate Day, English actor Robert Newton (pictured). Born and raised in Dorset and Cornwall, Newton played Long John Silver in two rip-roaring 1950s films and Blackbeard the Pirate in another cinema swashbuckler. Newton’s exaggerated West Country accent and over-the-top portrayal, liberally sprinkled with nautical phrases he heard old fishermen use, gave birth to standard “Piratese” as the world knows it today.
Like all the best ideas, it all started as a joke between friends, with Barr claiming it is the only known ‘international day’ born as a result of a sports injury. He and Summers were playing racquetball when one of them reacted to sudden pain with a loud and piratical “Aaarrr!” Joking that he sounded like an old-time movie pirate, they decided they should speak to each other like pirates on a specific day each year, just as a bit of harmless nonsense.
The racquetball game was on June 6th, 1995, but that date was the anniversary of D-Day in World War Two, so out of respect they chose another date, picking Summers’ ex-wife’s birthday – September 19th – on the basis that it would be easy for him to remember.
Over the next few years more friends joined in with their pit of seafaring fun and then in 2002 American humour columnist Dave Barry got wind of it He liked the barmy idea so much that he wrote about it in his newspaper column, syndicated across the USA. It caught the public attention and soon the two founders were getting requests to appear on radio and TV shows across the States then abroad.
Like many such stories, it could have soon faded into obscurity… except for the massive growth of the internet. It took the nautical notion from a joke between a few friends to a worldwide phonetic phenomenon. Ever since 2002, “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” has been celebrated by would-be buccaneers around the globe, with their ranks swelling year on year. Best of all it’s all just for fun with a hearty yo-ho-ho!
You can find out more by clicking here to visit the International Talk Like a Pirate Day website, which will also get you started with a few choice piratical sayings. You can also learn direct from the “Cap’n ’imself”, the inimitable Robert Newton, by clicking here.
So all ye scurvy swashbucklers ‘n’ proud buxom beauties, let slip yer soft landlubber ways, unleash yer inner salty seadog ‘n’ let rip with yer finest buccaneer broadsides till yon sun sinks over the yardarm! A-haagh!