Pirates! and a free sample

International Talk Like a Pirate DayAarrrgh! It’s offic’ly Talk Like a Pirate Day! And in honor, we’re goin’ t’ look at a burnin’ question: Why d’ our pirates talk like this?

Of course, thar aren’t a lot o’ recorded pirate speeches. Even court records o’ tried and convicted pirates don’t capture t’ dialect o’ t’ accused. What we think o’ as “pirate speak” developed rel’tively recently in modern media.

Cover of "Long John Silver"
Cover of Long John Silver

And one o’ t’ most influential was Robert Newton, o’ course, famous pirate o’ t’ silver screen. T’ Sprogs’ (Children’s) Museum o’ Indianapolis does a great job o’ explainin’ his often-imitated dialect:

But by far the most popular movie pirate was actor Robert Newton, who portrayed Long John Silver in the Disney film version of “Treasure Island”  in 1950 and Blackbeard in 1952, to name just two. Newton based his pirate talk on the dialect of his native West Country in southwestern England, which just happened to be where Long John Silver hailed from in the Treasure Island novel.  In this area of England, during the early 20th century, ” ‘Arr’ was an affirmation, not unlike the Canadian ‘eh,’ and maritime expressions were a part of everyday speech,” Woodard explains.

If you’ve heard me Japanese Folklore and Mythology talk, you’ve heard ‘ow a single artist influenced an entire country’s imagery o’ ghosts and how a sin’le corporate advertisin’ campaign changed Western culture’s picture o’ Santa Claus. Here, one actor invented a staple o’ pirate vernacular. Behold, t’ power o’ media!

Pirates been fascinatin’ young (and old) imaginations for gen’rations and inspired countless minds. I’ve even taken a swin’ at them meself, though me pirates have port out o’ t’ seven seas t’ sail space in t’ future. (Catch a glimpse o’ them in a Tuesday Teaser.)

“Torrent” be under consideration elsewhere, but I hope t’ be able t’ share it with you soon. In t’ meantime, I’m off today t’ the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference. Have a great weekend!

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