Well..... Talk Like A Pirate Day came and went, pretty much. There was no time, really, to have any sort of get-together. And I was half-way to work before I realized I'd forgotten to unfurl my Jolly Roger by the front door. But Monday is an odd day to remember anything even remotely inspiring or fun. Still....
According to the official TLAP website -- yes, they have a website -- these are the five basic words that you cannot live without:
Ahoy! - "Hello!"
Avast! - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"
Aye! - "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."
Aye aye! - "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."
Arrr! - This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." Just a few of the myriad possibilities.
Once you've mastered the basics, you're ready to start expanding your pirate vocabulary:
Beauty – The best possible pirate address for a woman. Always preceded by “me,” as in, “C’mere, me beauty,” or even, “me buxom beauty,” to one particularly well endowed.
Bilge rat – The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It’s loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. Since bilge rat is a pretty dirty thing to call someone, by all means use it on your friends.
Bung hole – Victuals on a ship were stored in wooden casks. The stopper in the barrel is called the bung, and the hole is called the bung hole. It sounds worse than it actually is, doesn’t it? When dinner is served on TLAP day you could make quite an impression by saying, “Well, me hearties, let’s see what crawled out of the bung hole.” No doubt, that statement will be followed by the sound of people putting down their utensils and pushing away from the table.
Grog – An alcoholic drink, usually rum diluted with water, but in this context you could use it to refer to any alcoholic beverage other than beer. Water aboard ship was stored for long periods in slimy wooden barrels, and rum was added to each sailor’s water ration to kill the rancid taste.
Hornpipe – Both a single-reeded musical instrument sailors often had aboard ship, and a spirited dance that sailors do.
Lubber – (or land lubber) This is the seaman’s version of land lover, mangled by typical pirate disregard for elocution. A lubber is someone who does not go to sea, who stays on the land. More likely than not, you are a lubber 364 days of the year. But not if you’re talking like a pirate! Then the word lubber becomes one of the more fierce weapons in your arsenal of piratical lingo. In a room where everyone is talking like pirates, lubber is ALWAYS an insult.
Smartly – Do something quickly. On TLAP Day – “Smartly, me lass,” you might say when sending the bar maid off for another round. She will be so impressed she might well spit in your beer.
Speaking of moving 'smartly'.... a story comes to mind. (Or perhaps I should call it a yarn..?) My uncle -- who was not a pirate but was a sea captain -- was showing off his ship to my aunt. I guess old habits die hard when you're responsible for hundreds of sailors on a huge merchant ship for long months at a time. Whatever the reason, as she set foot on the gangplank to board, he turned and snapped at her: "Step lively, Nancy!"
I wasn't there but I hear the look she gave him was priceless.