Avast there me hearties and take heed: International Talk Like A Pirate Day be Tuesday whether ye favors it or not. Jettison fey speech of modernity, if ye dare, and sink low into that bottomless brine of imagination.
Ho-ho matey! Feel ye stupid raising yer tongue’s black flag? Shiver me timbers! That’s the point!
No one knows exactly how those 17th and 18th Century monarchs of the sea really spoke. The direct quotes are almost certainly fabrications, eloquent as Black Sam Bellamy opined on self-determination.
No matter. International Talk Like A Pirate Day isn’t about historical accuracy — nor the dialectical choices of modern pirates skulking around the Gulf of Aden and the hidden coves of the Andaman Sea. It’s a celebration of the Disney-fied caricature of those square-rigged robbers. Peg-legged, silver-toothed, parrot-shouldered make-believe.
Although it isn’t dress-like-a-pirate day, it’s talk-like-a-pirate day, aaargh. Oh, and it is absolutely not act-like-a-pirate day. There is to be no more looting or pillaging or blockading of harbors than in your normal daily activities. If someone turns down your request to surrender the booty, you must accept the rejection and shove off. Heave ho, Hornigold. No means no, Edward Low.
I suppose a person could dress up for ITLAPD but it’s more fun, in my opinion, to slip a few piratical phrases in your daily lexicon — then spring it on the unsuspecting like so many scurvy buccaneers scrambling up the side of a treasure galleon. Sprinkle some aaarghs in yaaarrr alphabet soup.
Where did this made-up holiday come from, asked no one. Legend has it two buddies in Albany, Oregon were playing racketball or something and one fell. He shouted out, Aaaargh, in his best Calico Jack voice. A few laughs later, it was an annual tradition. That was 1995. If you knew anything about Albany, Oregon, back then, it was that you rolled up the car windows when driving by. It stunk. Nestled in a land known for its lovely forests sat a giant paper mill belching out the nastiest odors.
Yar. I haven’t been back since they tore the factory down. I bet it smells a lot better.
What didn’t stink was Talk Like A Pirate Day. It caught on pretty quickly and was adopted as an official holiday of the equally-silly Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — a pseudo-religion poking fun at those who take their supernatural beliefs a little too seriously. When someone tries to get their spiritual tenets taught in public schools, a good Pastafarian will ask why their deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, isn’t also in the curriculum.
More to the point, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster contends pirates were important bulwarks against climate change. All-but snuffed out in the early 19th Century, high-seas piracy’s decline mirrored the rise in Earth’s temperature. Never mind chopping down the trees to make paper.
Now, again, I am in no way suggesting any acts of skull-and-crossed-bones terrorism even if it will almost certainly lower the Earth’s temperature. Swap cannon fire for swashbuckling speech and see if it helps. It breaks up the monotony, if nothing else. After all, Henry Morgan and company didn’t set out to be legends. They just wanted better treatment, a less stinky life. Society had failed them, so when they saw an opportunity, they swung into action. It didn’t last, of course.
The controversial writer Peter Lamborn Wilson called such states pirate utopias. His book “T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone” outlines times and places where rulers are replaced by independent thought, non-hierarchical cooperation, and a celebration of creativity — all doomed to collapse at any moment. The very fact that they don’t last makes these ephemeral communities worth celebrating.
There are only 24 hours of International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Delay no more! Participating requires absolutely no research on ontological anarchy, adoption of noodle-based scripture, nor general knowledge of Pacific Northwest industrial sites.
Yo-ho-ho! Abandon normal, ye scallywags.
And when the sun rises on the day after International Talk Like A Pirate Day, maybe let’s have a chat about Talk Like A Virgin Islander Day. There are far too many fantastic old-timey Virgin Islands-isms that are underused. The entire dialect of Virgin Islands Creole awaits.