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Talk Like A Pirate Day

ARRR…..thar be Pirates about!!!!!

By Gail P. (TinkerPirate)


Today, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. And, who better to blog than I … PBS’ very own pirate … TinkerPirate!

My fascination with pirates started when I was but a small child growing up in a small town just about smack dab in the middle of Illinois. For a child surrounded by fields of corn, soybeans, and wheat, the possibility of an encounter with the denizens of Davy Jones’ locker was pretty much slim to none. But, the Fates had other ideas.


It was bowling and beer that led to this unlikely encounter. Family friends owned the town bowling alley and the local Budweiser distributor had a free hand when it came to giving out tickets for Cardinal games. At least once a year, those tickets came my Dad’s way and the whole family would hop into the old green station wagon and drive the 90 miles south to St. Louis for a game. For some reason, it always seemed to be a Cardinal vs Pirates game. And, for reasons still unknown, I always rooted for the Pirates. OK, admittedly, these were not “real” pirates, but the seed was still planted.


The attraction to pirates was nurtured through my childhood by a love of old movies. Seriously, who could resist Errol Flynn stabbing the main sail with his dagger and then riding the sail down from the crow’s nest to the fighting below on the deck in “Captain Blood”.  And, then there was the classic of “Abbot and Costello Meet Captain Kidd”. And, what about Bob Hope in “The Princess and the Pirate” or Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” (Come on, everybody sing “For I am a Pirate King! And it is, it is a glorious thing to be a Pirate King!”)?


I hit a slump as I made my way through nursing school and then joined the masses as they slogged through Monday-Friday work and household chores Saturday-Sunday. But, all that changed in 2006, when my inner pirate got rejuvenated by Johnny Depp agreeing to bring Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride to life! It was also the year my daughter badgered me into joining PBS.  And, the second swap I tried was aboard the S.S. Stupidity!  Pirates AND silliness!!!!  I was HOME!!!!  I had found my PEOPLE!!!!


OK, so this brings us to today’s holiday.  Why have an International Talk Like a Pirate Day?  I say “Why not?”  Or as it is stated on the TLAPD official website “The best explanation came from a guy at a Cleveland radio station who interviewed us on the 2002 Talk Like a Pirate Day. He told us we were going to be buried by people asking for interviews because it was a ‘whimsical alternative’ to all the serious things that were making the news so depressing.”  Unfortunately, that is just as true today as it was 9 years ago.


So, clear your throat, take a deep breath, and practice some piratey words with me:


Arrr! – This is essentially the pirate equivalent of surfer-speak “dude”. It can mean pretty much anything you want it to mean.

Bilge Rat – Think ex-husband/ex-wife, used car salesman, or politician.

Grog – Just what you think … alcohol … but primarily rum.

Keelhaul – A rather unpleasant trip under the hull of the ship usually used on bilge rats because they so obviously deserve it.


But, before I release you to practice your new found pirate-linguistics on your unsuspecting friends and coworkers … and, perhaps, a bilge rat or two, may I offer a little insight into pirates?

Why YES, TinkerPirate! Please grant us some of your wisdom!

Well, if you insist……


Pirates were not all burly men. Despite being of the “fairer sex”, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Grace O’Malley were fearsome pirates. For example, Bonny, Read, and an unknown male pirate were the only pirates on board the Revenge to defend their ship when it was attacked by a British Naval vessel. The rest of the pirates were drunk below decks. When cowardly louts refused to come up to fight like men, Read shot several of them through the hatch; thus saving the British several yards of hanging rope. Grace O’Malley was known to commanded 3 galley ships and over 200 men. In her spare time, she was also the chieftain of the Ó Máille clan in Ireland.

Not all pirates were lawless men who owed allegiance to no country. The difference between a “pirate” and a “privateer” was in the eye of the beholder … or more accurately which side of the boarding you were on. If you were the person with the “letter of marque” by a government and you were doing the boarding, you were a privateer with a legal right to board, plunder, and scuttle merchant ships of the government’s enemies. If you were the boardee, they were pirates.


Pirates were surprisingly democratic with specific rules governing pirate life. Black Bart’s Pirate Code of Conduct went something like this:

  1. One pirate, one vote – even the captain didn’t get a bigger say in who would be plundered next
  2. Share and share a like – everyone got a fair turn at the booty
  3. No gambling for money – obviously, this code was written before the advent of cruise ships and river casino boats
  4. No lights at night – pirates needed their beauty rest
  5. Keep your weapons clean –a dirty cutlass is a rusty cutlass
  6. No boys or women on shipboard – well, I guess that must be why Bonny and Read dressed like men
  7. Don’t even think about calling in sick during a battle – Read seemed to take that one personally
  8. No fighting between pirates – save your energy for plundering
  9. Early workers comp – lose an arm…..800 pieces of eight
  10. Musicians available for entertainment – except Sunday….even for pirates!


If you would like to learn more about pirates (and you are lucky enough to live in Denver), go see Real Pirates at the Museum of Nature and Science! It is a truly wonderful exhibit chronicling the only pirate ship to ever be positively identified. You will discover who the pirates were, get to touch real pirate artifacts, and find out what it took to be a pirate.

Before I go, I have to leave you with a little information about some land-locked pirates I had the misfortune of encountering while living in Chicago. It’s a towing company that was immortalized in Steve Goodman’s song The Lincoln Park Pirates (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daDQLptd5TI&feature=related)


The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser

Fluffy: Scourge of the Sea by Teresa Bateman & Michael Chesworth

Expedition Whydah by Barry Clifford & Paul Perry

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton


The Pirate Life by John “Chumbucket” Baur & Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers



I have an autographed copy of The Pirate Life that I will give to a lucky PBS members who comments here on the Blog. A winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be announced on September 27th. Good luck!



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26 Responses to “Talk Like A Pirate Day”

  1. Chris C. (chrisnsally) , says:

    Oh Lord, I forgot about “Talk like a Pirate Day.” I just logged in to look for some George McDonald Frasier books, thanks or celebrating the pirates and their day!

  2. LadyCari says:

    Arrrr……..great blog!

  3. Debbie H says:

    Arrrr- I would love to win!

  4. Eileen B. (romanceaddict) , says:

    Tink, I love this! Great info!

    Facebook members can change their official language to English (Pirate) in their account settings, LOL!

    Don’t forget about Blackbeard and the museum in NC (for those too far away from Denver).

  5. Chris O. (Lambie) otherwise known as Fat-Ass Eleanor Bonny says:

    Argggh! Great blog Tink. You’ve done us pirates proud, you have!!!

  6. Maria (SassenachD) says:

    I lift my mug of Grogg to ye!

  7. Janice P. (jannymarie) says:

    ARRR! Be lovin the history lesson

  8. Catherine B. (cathyinclarion) says:

    Happy Talk like a Pirate Day! I enjoyed reading your blog 🙂

  9. LaVonne W. (Grnemae) , says:

    ARRR! Mighty good Tink

  10. Nina (tealfroglette) vaxette says:

    YAY for Tinker Pirate! Got your grog ready for this evening? 🙂

  11. Nina (tealfroglette) says:

    Ye be rememberin that The Pirate Dictionary can be WL here on PBS, and if yer really lucky, somebody who visits Nawlins may just send you one…….

  12. Robin K. (jubead) says:

    I am loving this blog! Great Job! The pirates life for me…

  13. Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) says:

    Not even one “Shiver me timbers?” Great blog thank-ye!

  14. Elizabeth B. (Cattriona) , says:

    Avast! Great article, Gail!

  15. Rebekah K. (Beks) says:

    Tink I had no idea you were so in love with pirates. I feel like I know you so much better now. Great Blog 🙂

  16. Casey N. (casey-sue) , says:

    ARR it be blustery out today! I braved the seas in my “talk like a pirate day” shirt! (yes i actually have one! it has a skull and says september 19 is Talk like a pirate day)

  17. Kristi R. (kristony222) , says:

    Ahoy landlubbers! All the treasure will be going to me! Tink, you did forget the Bloody Jack series, which is a great pirate book in my humble opinion!

  18. Shellie F. (aylamonster) , says:

    Woo Hoo, Love it Tink!!
    It must be almost time for another voyage of the SS Stupidity
    Fluffy, oh Fluffy???

  19. ChrissyVas says:


  20. Gail P. (TinkerPirate) Montara, CA says:

    Thanks, PBSers! Glad you liked my musings!

  21. Sherry G. (Shervivor) , says:

    Too funny! I feel so much more educated on the topic of pirates now! Thanks, Tink! And Arrr to ya!

  22. Nina (tealfroglette) says:

    Ribbit, tis talk like and eat like a pirate day. Turkey legs and bananas foster, triangular trade you know…… rum, molasses, sugar….and the pecan banana nawlin’s tradition with cinnamon…. cuz you know the modern day pirates love to visit what would be nawlins….

  23. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    Ahoy Matey Tinkerpirate!
    Shiver me timbers…to see yer on the blog. Aye, what fun! It’s almost time for our yearly “Grog” get together! Yo ho ho, looking forward to seeing ya soon!

  24. aggiereader says:

    I didn’t know about the Code of Conduct. Very interesting! Thanks for the great blog, TinkerPirate.

  25. TinkerPirate says:

    Drummer! Look smart and be a beatin’ yer kettle! Fife, ye know what’s ta be dun. Strike up da song! T’ain’t the Sabbath, ye know!

    Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!!! T’is time to be givin’ …..The Pirate Life by John “Chumbucket” Baur & Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers to a lucky blogger.

    I dun rolled dem bones and a winner be named. Ms. Rebekah K. (Beks) will be larnin’ ’bout piratey things.

    Do yer think she suspects there be a quiz next yar?????

    Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
    We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
    We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

    Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
    We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
    Maraud and embezzle and even highjack.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

    Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
    We kindle and char and in flame and ignite.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
    We burn up the city, we’re really a fright.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

    We’re rascals and scoundrels, we’re villians and knaves.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
    We’re devils and black sheep, we’re really bad eggs.
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

    We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do-well cads,
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
    Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
    Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
    Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

  26. Rebekah K. (Beks) says:

    Shiver me timbers, me thinks I be the winner. Arrr, me thinks its a good thing me married a captain, captain kirk that be.

    🙂 Thanks Pirate TInk!!

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