International Talk Like a Pirate Day

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Talk Like a Pirate Day.png
DateSeptember 19
Next timeSeptember 19, 2019 (2019-09-19)

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (on September 19) is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (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] An observer of this holiday would greet friends not with "Hello, everyone!" but with "Ahoy, maties!" or "Ahoy, me hearties!". 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 Baur, 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 Baur 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] and later appeared in a cameo in their "Drunken Sailor" Sing Along A-Go-Go video.[5] Growing media coverage of the holiday after Barry's column has ensured that this event is now celebrated internationally, and Baur 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.[6]

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.[7] Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated with hidden easter egg features in many games and websites,[8] with Facebook introducing a pirate-translated version of its website on Talk Like a Pirate Day 2008[9] and publisher O'Reilly discounting books on the R programming language to celebrate.[10] In September 2014, Reddit added a pirate theme to their website.[11]

Adherents of the Flying Spaghetti Monster celebrate the day and believe that the concept of pirates as "thieves and outcasts" is misinformation spread by Christian theologians in the Middle Ages and by Hare Krishnas. Instead, Pastafarians believe that historically, pirates were "peace-loving explorers and spreaders of good will" who distributed candy to small children, adding that modern pirates are in no way similar to "the fun-loving buccaneers from history". Also, that recent decreases of pirates have led to global warming.

Linguistic background[edit]

Pirates of the Caribbean loading area 2016

English actor Robert Newton is the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.[1] He portrayed pirates in several films, most notably Long John Silver in both 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.[12] 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".[13] This was parodied in the 1950s and 1960s by British comedian Tony Hancock.[14]

The archetypal pirate word "Arrr!" (alternatively "Rrrr!" or "Yarrr!"), which in West Country parlance means "yes",[15] first appeared in fiction as early as 1934 in the film Treasure Island starring Lionel Barrymore,[14] and was used by a character in the 1940 novel Adam Penfeather, Buccaneer by Jeffery Farnol.[14] 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.[16]

Official acknowledgment[edit]

  • The US state of Michigan[17] has officially recognized the occasion.
  • Krispy Kreme gave out free doughnuts to people who talk and/or dress like pirates on September 19,[18] As of 2017, they have stopped giving out free donuts.[19][citation needed] Long John Silver's has a similar promotion.[20]
  • Google Search and Facebook both have the option to choose "Pirate" as a language choice.[21]
  • Antivirus provider Avast Software 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.[22]
  • In 2006, it was described as a holiday for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion.[23]
  • World of Warcraft also holds an event with special achievements for the holiday.[24]
  • If the 2004 version of Sid Meier's Pirates! is played on September 19, the in-game dialogue will contain pirate speech.[citation needed]
  • On January 5, 2012, Minecraft added a "Pirate Speak" language option (en_7S) with many humorous word choices.[25]
  • In 2018, Microsoft celebrated by making a pirate ship the image of the day on Bing, with the text "Arrr! Shiver me timbers! And so on!"
  • The Sims 4: Seasons includes "Talk Like a Pirate Day" as a holiday, with renamed social and object interactions.


  1. ^ a b c Mark Baker (September 19, 2003). "Avast! No lubbers today, ye scurvy bilge rats!". The Register-Guard. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  2. ^ The Original Talk Like A Pirate Day Web site, by John Baur 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. ^ YouTube "Drunken Sailor: First Annual International Talk Like a Pirate Day Drunken Sailor Sing-Along a Go Go" September 11, 2011 (@ 3:25). Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Interview with the Founders, Andrew Warner, Sept. 19. 2008.
  7. ^ David Cordingly (1995). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN 0-679-42560-8
  8. ^ "12seconds wants everyone to talk like a pirate; more invites for all". VentureBeat. September 19, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  9. ^ Siegler, MG (September 19, 2009). "Once Again, Facebook Owns 'Talk Like A Pirate Day' On The Web". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  10. ^ "Avast, Ye Mateys! Hoist Yer Colors for Talk Like a Pirate Day!". O'Reilly Media. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "Reddit get into Talk Like a Pirate Day spirit". Network World. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  12. ^ "Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952)". IMDb.
  13. ^ Dan Parry (2006). "Blackbeard: The Real Pirate of the Caribbean". p. 174. National Maritime Museum
  14. ^ a b c Bonanos, Christopher (June 5, 2007). "Did Pirates Really Say "Arrrr"? The origin of Hollywood's high-seas slang". Slate. Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Co. Retrieved September 16, 2007.
  15. ^ Robinson, Matthew (September 19, 2013). "Ahoy, matey! Is the pirate life for you?". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 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'."
  16. ^ "R!?". Language log, September 19, 2005.
  17. ^ "Michigan to officially recognize 'Talk Like a Pirate Day'". Fox News Detroit. June 6, 2013. Archived from the original on September 24, 2013.
  18. ^ "Krispy Kreme – Pirate". Archived from the original on September 7, 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  19. ^ "Talk like a Pirate blog". September 14, 2017.
  20. ^ "Still no free Krispy Kreme for Talk Like A Pirate Day, but free deep fried Twinkie at Long John Silver's". Orlando Sentinel.
  21. ^ Chris Gaylord (September 19, 2011). "Talk Like a Pirate Day: How to have Google, Facebook join in". The Christian Science Monitor.
  22. ^ "Avast blog " talk like a pirate". Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  23. ^ Henderson, Bobby. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. 2006. ISBN 0-8129-7656-8, p.124.
  24. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. "Celebrate Pirate's Day – September 19!". World of Warcraft. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  25. ^ "Language". Minecraft Wiki. Retrieved September 19, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]