Sunday, September 18, 2022



Arrr!!! Ahoy, shipmates.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day be a parody holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.

"Cap'n Slappy" and "Ol' Chumbucket", the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Here are some origins of pirate words and phrases.  (Why are pirates called pirates? Because they just arrrr!!)


Modern day pirates now operate largely off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. They are thugs, kidnappers and murderers but then again so were the 18th century pirates, the golden age of piracy being 1650-1720. The olden day pirates have been romanticised by books and films, the image owing much to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Disney’s 1950 film of the book.


The word “pirate” comes originally from the Indo-European “per”, meaning to try, to risk. From there it went into Greek as “pieran”, meaning attempt, attack, and into Latin as “pirata”, meaning attacker, robber. Later it came to mean specifically sea attacker. It then evolved into an attacker/plunderer at sea.

In English, “pirate” appeared in the late 14th century with the meaning of “a person who robs ships at sea”. The use as a robber on land and sea developed about 100 years later.

Some other Hollywood pirates . . .

Errol Flynn in Captain Blood (1935)

Cary Elwes as Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride (1987) 
(love that movie)

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow


In the 1960s in the UK, pirate radio stations were unlicensed and broadcast offshore from anchored ships and marine platforms.

There is a good film set in the 1960’s against a backdrop of the operation of an English offshore pirate radio station. The 2009 flick is called The Boat That Rocked ( Pirate Radio in North America) and it stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy (one of his best), Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost and Kenneth Branagh.

Arrr, this be well worth watching, maties.


How pirates get eye patches . . .


The Jolly Roger is the traditional English name for the flags flown to identify a pirate ship before or during an attack. The flag most commonly identified as the Jolly Roger today is the skull and crossbones symbol on a black flag. This was used during the 1710s by a number of pirate captains and went on to become the most commonly used pirate flag during the 1720s, although other designs were also in use.

The raising of pirate flags, usually only hoisted at the last minute, signalled that the ship under approach should immediately surrender or face not only attack and boarding but the execution of all on board.

The threat that no quarter was to be given was often reinforced by raising an additional flag, an all-red one.

Pirates flew many other types of flags to signal their terrible purpose in approaching a ship, usually with gruesome such as skeletons, swords, and bleeding hearts.


Recycled, but a goodie . . .

A pirate captain goes to a bar on returning from sea. in a bar. The barman notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook, and an eye patch. He asks, “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?”

The pirate replies, “We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as my men were pulling me out, a shark bit my leg off.”

“What about your hook?” asks the bartender.

“Well”, replied the pirate, “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords. One of the enemy cut my hand off.”

“Incredible!” says the bartender. “How did you get the eye patch”?

“A seagull shat in my eye,” replied the pirate.

“You lost your eye to a seagull pooping?” the barkeep asked incredulously.

“Well,” said the pirate, “it was my first day with the hook.”


Some possible origins of the term Jolly Roger:
  • It may derive from the word ‘Roger’ which in that period signified the Devil, a figure often referred to as ‘Old Roger’.
  • A group of pirates hanged in Newport, Rhode Island in 1723 had called their flag showing a skeleton holding an hourglass and a bleeding heart as ‘Old Roger’.
  • The term ‘roger’ was also applied to wandering beggars or vagrants and privateers were sometimes referred to as ‘Sea Beggars’, particularly in the Netherlands.
  • An alternative origin is the French term le jolie rouge (the “pretty red”), which was applied to the red flag commonly flown by privateers for centuries.
  • The Welsh pirate Black Bart Roberts (1682-1722) was famous for wearing bright red silks in battle, causing the French to nickname him le jolie rouge. Roberts was known to fly the skull and crossbones flag, amongst others on his fleet of ships and so this flag became the ‘Jolly Roger’ by association.

Q: What has 8 legs, 8 arms, and 8 eyes?

A: 8 pirates.


A buccaneer is a pirate, but the word derives from a method of barbeque used by the Indigenous people of the Caribbean region. A boucan was a grill used for roasting meat and vegetables, and the term buccaneer was first applied to hunters in Hispaniola who killed and smoked wild cattle on boucans. That was a rough lifestyle, and when the term was borrowed into English, the sense became that of a pirate, either because the hunters of Hispaniola had turned to piracy, or that piracy was a similarly rough profession.



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