International Talk Like a Pirate Day

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Talk Like a Pirate Day.png
Type Parodic
Date September 19
Next time September 19, 2017 (2017-09-19)
Frequency annual

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD, September 19) is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Bauer (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon,[1] U.S., who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.[2] For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with "Hello," but with "Ahoy, matey!" The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy.


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

According to Summers, the day is the only known holiday to come into being as a result of a sports injury. During a racquetball game between Summers and Bauer, one of them reacted to the pain with an outburst of "Aaarrr!", and the idea was born. That game took place on June 6, 1995, but out of respect for the observance of the Normandy landings, they chose Summers' ex-wife's birthday, as it would be easy for him to remember.[1][3]

At first an inside joke between two friends, the holiday gained exposure when Bauer and Summers sent a letter about their invented holiday to the American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002.[4] Barry liked the idea and promoted the day.[4] Growing media coverage of the holiday after Barry's column has ensured that this event is now celebrated internationally, and Bauer and Summers now sell books and T-shirts related to the theme on their website. Part of the success for the international spread of the holiday has been attributed to non-restriction of the idea or non-trademarking, in effect opening the holiday to creativity and "viral" growth.[5]

The association of pirates with peglegs, parrots, and treasure maps, popularized in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island (1883), has had a significant influence on parody pirate culture.[6] Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated with hidden easter egg features in many games and websites,[7] with Facebook introducing a pirate-translated version of its website on Talk Like a Pirate Day 2008[8] and publisher O'Reilly discounting books on the R programming language to celebrate.[9] Minecraft also features this language (en_PT) since January 5, 2012.[citation needed] In September 2014, Reddit added a pirate theme to their website.[10]

Linguistic background[edit]

English actor Robert Newton, who specialized in portraying pirates, especially Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney film Treasure Island and the 1954 Australian film Long John Silver and the title character in the 1952 film Blackbeard the Pirate,[11] is described as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.[1] Newton was born in Dorset and educated in Cornwall, and it was his native West Country dialect, which he used in his portrayal of Long John Silver and Blackbeard, that some contend is the origin of the standard "pirate accent".[12] This was parodied in the 1950s and 1960s by British comedian Tony Hancock.[13]

The archetypal pirate word "Arrr!" (alternatively "Rrrr!" or "Yarrr!") first appeared in fiction as early as 1934 in the film Treasure Island starring Lionel Barrymore,[13] and was used by a character in the 1940 novel Adam Penfeather, Buccaneer by Jeffrey Farnol.[13] However, it was Robert Newton's use of it in the classic 1950 Disney film Treasure Island that popularized the interjection and made it widely remembered. It has been speculated that the rolling "rrr", a distinctive element of the speech of the West Country of England, has been associated with pirates because of the West Country's strong maritime heritage, where for many centuries fishing was the main industry (and smuggling a major unofficial one), and where there were several major ports. As a result, West Country speech in general, and Cornish speech in particular, may have been a major influence on a generalized British nautical speech.[14][15]

The statement "Arrr!" is a word, even a meaningful reply, not just a grunt or mumble. In West Country parlance it means "yes." That shouldn't be too surprising, considering that West Country natives favor a hard "R" sound, and the word "aye" (which means "yes") is historically common in nautical circles. Put them together: you have "Arrr!" [16]

Official acknowledgment[edit]

  • The US states of Michigan[17] and California[citation needed] have officially recognized the occasion.
  • Krispy Kreme gives out free doughnuts to people who talk and/or dress like pirates on September 19.[18] Long John Silver's has a similar promotion.[19]
  • Google Search and Facebook both have the option to choose "Pirate" as a language choice.[20]
  • Antivirus provider Avast has, since 2011, permitted users to select "Pirate Talk" as a language option. The option was added on International Talk Like a Pirate Day of that year.[21]
  • In 2006, it was described as a holiday for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion.[22]
  • World of Warcraft also holds an event with special achievements for the holiday.


  1. ^ a b c Mark Baker (2003-09-19). "Avast! No lubbers today, ye scurvy bilge rats!". The Register-Guard. Retrieved 2014-09-25. 
  2. ^ The Original Talk Like A Pirate Day Web site, by John Bauer and Mark Summers.
  3. ^ "September 19, 2007". The KBIM Pat & Brian Show. Orange, California. September 19, 2007. 40 minutes in. Beyond Investigation Magazine. KBIM Webcast. 
  4. ^ a b Dave Barry, "Arrrrr! Talk like a pirate—or prepare to be 'boarded'". September 8, 2002.
  5. ^ Interview with the Founders, Andrew Warner, Sept. 19. 2008.
  6. ^ David Cordingly (1995). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN 0-679-42560-8
  7. ^ "12seconds wants everyone to talk like a pirate; more invites for all". VentureBeat. September 19, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  8. ^ Siegler, MG (September 19, 2009). "Once Again, Facebook Owns 'Talk Like A Pirate Day' On The Web". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Avast, Ye Mateys! Hoist Yer Colors for Talk Like a Pirate Day!". O'Reilly Media. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  10. ^ "Reddit get into Talk Like a Pirate Day spirit". Network World. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  11. ^ "Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952)". IMDb. 
  12. ^ Dan Parry (2006). "Blackbeard: The Real Pirate of the Caribbean". p. 174. National Maritime Museum
  13. ^ a b c Bonanos, Christopher (2007-06-05). "Did Pirates Really Say "Arrrr"? The origin of Hollywood's high-seas slang.". Slate. Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Co. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  14. ^ "West Country dialects: Information from". Retrieved 2010-06-28.  Link is evidently a search, and turns up nothing relevant on the site now (2016-09-22).
  15. ^ "R!?". Language log, September 19, 2005.
  16. ^ Robinson, Matthew (2013-09-19). "Ahoy, matey! Is the pirate life for you?". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2017-07-18. Author interviews Molly Babel, a linguist. Babel: "Speakers of the regional dialect tend to emphasize their r’s, unlike other British regions, said Babel. They tend to replace the verbs ‘is’ and ‘are’ with ‘be,’ and indeed, use the word ‘arrr’ in place of ‘yes.’"  
  17. ^ "Michigan to officially recognize 'Talk Like a Pirate Day'". Fox News Detroit. 
  18. ^ "Krispy Kreme - Pirate". 
  19. ^ Long John Silver's Talk Like a Pirate Day promotion September 5, 2012
  20. ^ The Christian Science Monitor (September 19, 2011). "Talk Like a Pirate Day: How to have Google, Facebook join in". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  21. ^ "Avast blog » talk like a pirate". 
  22. ^ Henderson, Bobby. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. 2006. ISBN 0-8129-7656-8, p.124.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]