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Argh me hearties!

'T has coe upon me, yer olde mucker Horatio Tarbuckle to tell ye some truths and half truths o' t' piratin vocabulary. Firstly howe'er, I should poin' ou' tha' "vocabulary" is far too nancy an' molly-coddlin' a word fer a pirate to use. Aye, that it be says I! After all, we're not a bunch a lolly - gagging, royster - doistering, land - lubbing milk - sop jackanapes be we? Nay! From now on, we shall refer to "vocablary" as "pirate tongue." Not to be confused with the strange and terrible "piratey tongue" an unfortunate disease of a sexual nature which many have contracted in Port Royal and can be likened to a gout of the tongue.


So! Here be the basic rules o' pirate tongue;
  1. Use lot's o' apostrophes and cut the end off words more often than ye'd cut the toes off a spanish governors. Remember, no sea-dog worth his salt would use proper grammar or finish more than half o' his words. Ever. (that be unless he be a themed pirate captain, and his theme be 'spruced up flouncer.' (There'll be more on themed pirates in another chapter me hopes.))
  2. Never use the word "is." "Be" is a rightly acceptable replacement in all but the most la-di-da of company (for example, when cutting off the toes of Spanish governors. In this case, instead of saying "Ye be going to tell us where yer treasure haul is or ye be walking funny from now on." Say; "Ye is going to tell us where yer treasure haul is or ye is walking funny from now on."
  3. The words "Argh!" "land-lubber" "keel-haul" "plank" "swab" "rum" "scurvy" "dubloon" and "poop-deck" can ne'er be overused. They be like hot rum whilst sailing round the 'orn to ye.
  4. Replace the letter "o" with the letter "e" in almost all circumstances. So that; " You're a nice lookin' wench, care for a little run around with your old friend Horatio Tarbuckle?"
  5. Becomes; "Yer a nice leekin' wonch, care fer a wee run a arend with yer eld friond Heratie Tarbucklo?" (Hmmm... I'm not sure that turned out quite right. Well, ye'll work out when it's appropriate. Be intuitive ye scallywags!)
  6. Talk in the third person indescriminately. It strikes fear into the hearts of all but the hardiest of Jack Tars. Fer example; "I think it's time I buried my cutlass for good." Becomes; "Horatio Tarbuckle be thinkin' it's time he be buryin' 'is cutlass fer good... In yer belly!" See, 'tis far more blood-curdlin' this way. (although the threat of stabbing may have a tot to do with that.)
  7. And lastly, "i" before "e" except after "c." Pretty obvious really.


  8. So there ye have it! The basic rules of yon Pirate tongue, but here be some genuine facts on t' matter:

    The pirate tongue, as we know it through films and literature is actually just an adaptation of the Cornish accent of south-western Britain. As many sailors of the golden age of Caribbean piracy came from this area (as did the famous Killigrew family of Pendennis castle - an aristocratic family who all, men and women, pirated throughout the Atlantic during the 16th century) , this became the most common of ship-board English accents, except perhaps for London English. The Cornish is far more colourful however and so became the base for that eminently famous fictional pirate 'Long John Silver' of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island - The most influential work of pirate fiction bar none. This strong and salty accent survives in Cornwall even today, and if you are to enter a pub of the region frequented by locals you can close your eyes and imagine you are surrounded by the fiercest of pirates. It can be as if Captain Blackbeard himself is talking at the table next to you. About last nights episode of Neighbours.


    And now for a quick definition of different names for pirates;
    • Pirate; Was and is anyone who robs and plunders on the sea.
    • Buccaneer; derived from the French word "boucanier" which is a derivation of barbecue and originally was the name of the wild French hunters in western Hispaniola (Haiti). They were called "boucanier" as this was the open fire on which they cooked their meat and cured the animal's hides for rough clothing. The Spanish later drove the "boucanier" off Hispaniola to the small off shore island Tortuga, situated on the romantically named Windward Passage - a major route for Spanish merchant and treasure ships. Here the French were joined by English, Dutch, escaped African slaves, American Indians and anyone else who had a grudge against the Spanish, including the famous English privateer Sir Henry Morgan. To English tongue these men were called buccaneers or 'The Brethren of the Coast.' A loose confederation of pirates which Sir Henry Morgan later became '"Admiral" of. From Tortuga the buccaneer's raided merchant ships, especially those of the Spanish as they tried to make their way through the tight Windward Passage. The pirates made Tortuga into a fortress and their raids became ever increasingly audacious. The last major buccaneer raid was the invasion of Panama, led by Sir Henry Morgan, which entirely destroyed the large Spanish port. By the late 1600's however, the buccaneers as an organised pirate force were dying out.
    • Privateers; Ships and the crews of those given 'Letters of Marque.' Which countries offered to private captains giving them the right to attack the ships and ports of a specific nation which they are at war with. Privateers could claim that they were not mere pirates as they were carrying out their raids as acts of war against an enemy nation. They did however still keep most of the booty they had plundered.
    • Corsairs; From the Spanish 'Corsarios' and referring to any and all pirates and privateers who were not Spanish.
    • Filibusters; From the French 'filibustier' and referring to any and all pirates and privateers who were not French.
    • Sea Rovers; From the Dutch 'Zee-Roovers' and referring to any and all pirates and privateers who were not Dutch.


    So! There ye have it! A whole hold full o' piratey crap. Here be a comprehension test to check ye've understood fully.

    1. (Simply fill in the blanks to complete ye sentence) "Avast y..... scurvy sea-....!"
    2. (and agin) "Hoist m... main-...!"
    3. (Change this sentence to appropriate pirate tongue) "Hello John, I believe you and I should have a cup of tea."
    4. (change this sentence to the third person as if Scurvy Pete were saying it) "I'm going to rip yer heart out of your chest unless ye tell me where yer booty be!"
    5. (What is the punchline to this pirate joke?) "What do a pirate wear under 'is britches?"


    So! Me hopes you've had a bellyful o' this! An' I hope you'll all be talkin' the talk or it's keel haulin' ye be wantin'! That or my name not be...



    ---Article by Pirate Tarnbuckle
    Pirate Tarbuckle is one of
    the few exceptional, pirates
    who already obtained the title
    of "Scurvy Sea Dog" without outside
    training. He is traveling pirate
    professor of Pirate Speak who
    frequently likes to terrorize her
    Majesty's colonies.




    Answers to ye quiz!
    1. Avast ye scurvy sea-dog!
    2. Hoist me mainsail!
    3. Ho there Toothless Jack! Me an' ye should get together and rum ourselves til were pissin' our britches!
    4. Scurvy Pete's gonna rip yer heart outo' yer chest unless ye tell him where your booty be!
    5. Plunderpants! Argh har-har-har!