Skip to content
Technology & Innovation

Reminder for “International Talk Like a Pirate Day:” Pirates Didn’t Talk Like That

Social media swashbucklers have been hurling loads of “aarghs” and “mateys” today in celebration of the silliest made-up holiday of them all, International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The only problem: that sort of pirate talk is nothing more than the stuff of 20th century pop culture.

Of all the silly “holidays” purported by folks on social media, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is probably the most famous and almost certainly the most grating. Facebook friends and members of the Twitterati have been hurling “aarghs” and “mateys” all day in celebration. There’s only one problem, oh swashbuckling legion of pastiche pirates: you’re doing it wrong. Robbie Gonzalez at io9 has the scoop for all you landlubbers out there:

“Pirate-speak, as most of us know it, was invented by Disney; and pirates – real pirates, that is – probably sounded nothing like they do in the movies.

‘There isn’t much in the way of scientific evidence in regards to pirate speech,’ says historian Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down.”

As Gonzalez explains, the modern pirate accent was popularized by actor Robert Newton, who played Long John Silver in Disney’s 1950 Treasure Island adaptation. Most historians ascertain that real pirates probably just spoke the same English as everyone else in the region.

Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t still affix an eyepatch, mount a parrot on your shoulder, and run up and down the halls of your office with a sword (on second thought, leave the sword at home). And it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with speaking like a “pirate.” Just remember that what you’re really doing is talking like a fictional pirate because International Talk Like a Pirate Day is about as much of an anthropological event as an International Talk Like Yoda day would be. Not that I want to give anyone ideas…

Read more at io9

Photo credit: Elnur / Shutterstock


Up Next