Monday, September 8, 2014

At Least One Thing You Probably Didn’t Know About Talk Like a Pirate Day

Okay, you may or may not know that the famous holiday started in June of 1995, then John Baur and Mark Summers were playing handball, and one of them was injured just badly enough to yell “Arrrgh!” The boys were amused enough that they went on talking like pirates for a while and then imagined a day when EVERYONE talked like pirates.

They picked a date for their holiday because Summers had found that, while he could never remember his wife’s birthday, once they were divorced he couldn’t forget September 19th, and he wanted to have some reason to think of it. The holiday took off when the duo wrote to the famous comedian Dave Barry, who found the idea worth a column…. And so a movement was born.

One of my friends tells a story of a family member who simply talked like a pirate on the assigned date, without explaining himself to anyone. (You can get away with a lot when you’re in IT.) Apparently it’s contagious, and so a conference call would happen, and pretty soon a bunch of VP’s were saying “Avast!” and “Me bucko!” with no idea why, until someone piped up and shouted “Why are we doing this?!”

Explanations were then offered. Pirates aren’t rude, after all. They just need to be asked direct questions.

Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket, as Baur and Summers are now known, have published a book, run a website, sell T Shirts and blog, all in the name of Piratical Pronunciation. Facebook got in on the fun in 2008, when they added the chance to update your Facebook language to “English – Pirate” which will change the site’s name to Ye Olde Facebook and promote most of your friends to captains.

(Go to Settings, change Language and set it to English – Pirate. Just that easy)
The number of sites and organizations celebrating the holiday gets bigger every year. Krispy Kream  gives a free donut to everyone who can talk the talk, and Long John Silver’s gives away fish. Minecraft offers pirate language, and publisher O’Reilly offers a discount on the R programming language (get it?)

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, itself a parody, has made Talk Like a Pirate Day its official holiday, claiming that the lack of pirates is the reason for global warming. (We have fewer pirates, than during the Golden Age, and temperatures are going up, after all…)

Assorted sites will give you advice on exactly how to ‘talk like a pirate,’ though I can’t offer any better advice than to check out Disney’s 1950 movie Treasure Island, starring Robert Newton. Newton exaggerated his own West English accent for the part, and was so distinctive that he’s defined pirate-speak ever since.

Talk Like a Pirate Day even has its own official song, written by Tom Smith.

Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!
When laptops are benches God gave us for wenches,
And a sail ain't a low price to pay!
When timbers are shivered and lillies are livered
And every last buckle is swashed,
We'll abandon our cars for a shipfull of ARRRs
And pound back the grog till we're sloshed. Yo ho ....

Why is the holiday so popular? Because it’s fun. No one can tell us about “What it’s supposed to mean,” or how to find “the true meaning of the holiday.” It’s supposed to mean that you talk like a pirate, and the real meaning of the holiday is “Aarrrgh!”

It’s one of the few eventss that Hallmark has yet to create a card for, and you don’t have to buy anything, although some people do invest in an eye patch. TLAPD is just about having a good time, and we need that.

Oh, and that one thing that I’ll bet you didn’t know? September 19th, in addition to being a holiday, is Hermione Granger’s birthday. Yes, that Hermione, the one from Harry Potter. And this fact has also been memorialized in song, with Tom Smith’s “Hermione Granger the Pirate Queen” a tune that you should definitely buy at Tom’s website, in addition to the Official Anthem.

And maybe we'll never get closer,
Than watchin' 'em on the big screen,
So here's to old Errol and Depp as Jack Sparrow,
And every damn one in between!

Yo Ho!

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