September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day — one of those wonderful absurdities that has taken hold of many a lover of piracy legend and lore.
For an entertaining collection of real and fantastical English pirate language read “The Pirate Primer – Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues” by George Choundas.
The stereotypical pirate speech pattern is based on the English coastal dialect made famous by actor, Robert Newton in his role as Long John Silver.
Truth is, the languages spoken by the pirates who plied the waves of the North Atlantic seaboards and Caribbean during the 17th & 18th centuries were as diverse as the mariners themselves. Sailors spoke Scottish, Irish and Manx, Welsh, Breton, French, Spanish, many African languages, indigenous tongues of the people in the new world, and many more, all laced with nautical lingo and a salty twist. I imagine many sailors were polyglots by sheer necessity especially on pirate crews.
Luck t’ye and a fair wind,
“They vilify us, the scoundrels do, when there is only one difference, they rob the poor under the cover of the law and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage.” — Captain Bellamy