Post 200

rogersgeorge on September 21st, 2012

For post 100, I copied a passage of some really fine writing from a comic strip named Pibgorn by Brooke McEldowney.  This is post 200, and I’ll descend to the other end of the continuum, pirate talk. Two days ago (Sept 19) was Talk Like a Pirate day, but I already had a post in the hopper for then, and besides, this is post 200.

First, then, a bit of linguistics. (We gotta be scholarly, y’know.) The traditional accent we all associate with the romance of 18th century pirates is roughly the brogue from Cornwall, or the southwest of England. I think this was most strongly promulgated by Disney’s version of Treasure Island several decades ago, but it might have appeared in some earlier movies, too. Be that as it may, to my mind the epitome of pirate talk is the strong “arr” sound and “be” and “me” instead of “is” and “my” as spoken by Long John Silver in the Disney movie. I read the book , by the way, and there’s quite a bit more adventure in the book than in the movie. But I digress.

Robert Newton as Long John Silver

Here’s a quote from a review (which gets the name of the day wrong):

He was deeply alcoholic and delivered a performance of such swivel-eyed, bizarrely-accented, scenery-chewing lunacy that he not only stole the entire film but also created a character that almost immediately defined the physical, sartorial and verbal attributes of a pirate.

Second, real pirates, especially modern ones, are bad people as far as we law-abiding folks go. Yes, the older version in the sailing ships had a decent civil structure on their ships, more egalitarian than most people realize, but they nonetheless did not conform to most of our cultural norms (read They were pretty bloodthirsty.). And there was a class of semi-legal pirate types called privateers, who had loyalty to a particular country and tended to concentrate on raiding their country’s enemies’ ships. Talk Like a Pirate day is all in fun, and has no more actual connection to real pirates than having  kids go trick-or-treating on Halloween has to do with Satanism and real demons.

Third, if you’re going to speak like a pirate, you should get it right. Women are “me beauty.” It’s “arr,” not “arg” and not “yarr.” And a friend is “matey,” pronounced “maitey.” If you want to look into it a bit more, here’s a link to the official TLAP site.

Fourth, pirate jokes. Of course my favorites are wordplay, that capitalize on the strong pirate “arr.” A pirate’s favorite vegetable is arrrrtichokes, and they fight best in the arrrmy. You get the idea. A fellow by the name of Doug Savage produced a couple comics about pirates that feature chickens. And you all know the joke about the pirate with a peg leg, a hook, and an eye patch. When asked for how he got them all, he described horrific battles for losing his leg and his hand, but lost his eye because of some seagull poop. It seems he wasn’t yet used to having the hook.

And that, me matey, be all I have to say about pirates.

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