Today is National “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, which means that you’ve likely encountered your fair share of generic pirate speak today. You’ve surely seen it abundantly in your Facebook stream.
I don’t mean to shiver your proverbial timbers or break your landlubbin’ hearts, but it turns out that it is highly unlikely that pirates sounded anything like the Hollywood style pirates that we love to hate.
The scallywags at National Geographic recently posted an article which points out that most of what we imagine about pirates has been shaped by Walt Disney’s Treasure Island, which set the stage for pretty much every other pirate portrayed on the silver screen.
Disney’s Long John Silver (played by Robert Newton) peppered his speech with “Arrrs” which were meant to be a reflection of the dialect of the West Country in southwestern England, which is where the Long John hailed from in the novel Treasure Island. The truth is that pirates actually came from all over, and most of the English pirates probably came from London.
Which may mean that pirates actually sounded like this: “I say good sir. Might I trouble you to take a stroll down this plank? I do hate to be a bother, but it appears you’ve taken possession of booty that I wish to acquire for myself and the chaps with whom I sail. Cheerio!”
That probably is not right either. As it turns out, the legendary plank walk is also a Hollywood invention.
I don’t know about you, but my bubble’s been thoroughly burst. Now whaaar’s me rum?
Below, hear Robert Newton as the famous Long John Silver: