A friend just wished everyone a “Happy Talk like a Pirate Day” on Facebook and since it’s too early to start on the rum (never a good idea before jump rope practice), I thought I’d write about this strange phenomenon that proves once again, just how much spare time we have on our hands in this society.
When people say they mean to “talk like a pirate,” they presumably refer to the Anglo-American pirates from the so-called golden age in the early 18th Century. If they referred to the earlier buccaneers, the pirate-talkers would be speaking French and no one would laugh (except the real French who would be in hysterics over our bad accents). And if they referred to modern pirates, who seem to be enjoying their old golden age at the moment, the pirates would do all their talking with semi-automatic weapons and a few choice Somali curses. Not very funny or quaint and I’m not sure if rum is popular in Somalia.
So today we’re suppose to talk like uneducated seamen with early 18th Century English accents. The speech pattern differs in that it includes a greater incidence of the letters “arrrrrgh” and “ayyyyeeee.” Another manner in which the speech differs is that virtually every other sentence includes a threat of some sort of violence. For example, in Eliza Knight’s post wishing us salutations on this illustrious day, she quotes one of her pirates saying “We sail within the hour or I shall see you to Davy Jones.” Now while there are no doubt many bosses who would like to try, it is considered bad form in this day and age to threaten your employees with immediate death for being a little slow in performance of job duties. Maybe not in Somalia, but in Anglo-American society, it will get you a harassment suit at the very least.
You also can’t use demeaning modern language in the workplace or announce an intent to plunder and maim on a regular basis. But in pirate English, it’s okay to refer to your co-workers as “scurvy dogs,” demand a surrender of booty, and threaten to continue beatings until morale improves.
So we’ve established that bosses really should want to take advantage of this day. But instead, it is the lowly employees that making eye patches out of post-it notes and sailing paper boats in the water cooler. Why? Because they had the time to read FB posts and learned that it was “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and that they could even change their language setting to “Pirate” English.
Note that although I’m celebrating the day and have changed my FB language to Pirate English, I chose not to “write like a pirate.” Most of them were illiterate. Not to suggest that my writing much better, but at least the variety of letters is greater than reading a series of “X”s.
Thanks to Eliza Knight for the timely reminder about this under-rated holiday.