“In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labor; in this, plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour look or two at choking. No, a merry life and a short one, shall be my motto.” –Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts
What is ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’?
In short, ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day‘ is just that. Every September 19th, droves of people speak like pirates. Why? Because pirates are awesome. But, how did it start? Well, let me let “The Pirate Guys” explain:
Arrr! We be the pirate guys, matey.
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.
That’s the very beginning. But, if you’d like even more info, head over to their webpage where they explain in more detail how it actually became one of the most fun holidays of the year.
So, why pirates?
Well, I already mentioned the fact that pirates are awesome, other than all the awful things that they did anyway. Alayna Kennedy wrote a short but good blog post on why we love pirates so much, but I think it goes even deeper than just romanticizing through popular culture.
Everyone loves a good bad guy, and sometimes the thought of being “bad” intrigues us. In the Golden Age of Piracy, which took place between 1700 and 1725, they didn’t have all of the modern conveniences that we do now. Pirates were able to get away with things more than we could ever imagine now because there was no GPS, no cameras, no Lo-Jack. Heck, I’m pretty sure you didn’t even have to register your boat (I looked it up, but could not find a definitive answer). If you took over a vessel, and made sure nobody survived to “tell the tale” as it were, nobody would really even know of your crimes. If and when you were finally caught, you were usually hung, but there were some pirates that turned around and actually WORKED for the various crowns as mercenaries or otherwise. Can you imagine having a very high percentage of being able to get away with crimes, have riches, and enjoy the high life? “Black Bart” (we used his quote at the start of this article) felt it was well worth the chance of being hung.
And so do several people today. There’s a much higher chance of being caught, which is one of a variety of reasons people don’t commit more crimes, but some people feel it’s worth the risk of being caught to be able to enjoy life in the “now”. Those people commit bank robberies, credit fraud, steal identities, steal cars and part them out, sell drugs, and so much more. Pirates were much like anti-establishment criminals today. The differences between these people and pirates are few, however there was a sort of code that pirates lived by that doesn’t seem to stand true today.
The Pirate Code
A pirate code, pirate articles or articles of agreement were a code of conduct for governing pirates. A group of sailors, on turning pirate, would draw up their own code or articles, which provided rules for discipline, division of stolen goods, and compensation for injured pirates.
The pirate code showed that pirates were not without rules. The rules (or guidelines) were much like the rules of a militia or military, with very harsh punishments should they be found to be broken. Different pirates had different codes, but most of them share the same kind of “be prepared, be loyal” type of mentality. While there are certain online anti-establishment groups that have “rules”, I don’t think they share the kind of mentality about honor as was held back in the 1700s.
Where do I sign up?
Although today is ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’, it doesn’t have to end there. There are countless pirate festivals across the United States (and probably the world) that you can attend to fulfill your pirate dreams. USA Today had a piece on the 5 best to attend, but you can find all of them here.
“Let’s jump on board, and cut them to pieces.” -Blackbeard