When it comes to holidays, there are some that are well-known and familiar, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, and then there are those that are a bit more obscure. Falling into this latter category are observances like International Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, or Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day. Holidays like this are silly, fun, and generally easy to celebrate.
While you can find an odd holiday on just about every day of the year, some are actually starting to become a little more popular over time. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has humble origins, but is slowly emerging as a more well-known observance. What is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, you ask?
Ahoy! All hands on deck! Fly that Jolly Roger and enjoy this guide on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
What Is International Talk Like a Pirate Day?
International Talk Like a Pirate Day is held every year on September 19th. It was founded by two self-described “guys” in 1995, though neither of them had set out to be the creators of a holiday.
In June of that year, John Baur and Mark Summers were playing a game of racquetball. As the game wore on, they both found themselves suffering in pain. All the jerky movements and leaping for the ball was taking its toll. Both guys eventually began to verbally shout during their distress.
Eventually, one of them let out a stray “Arrrrr” in disgust and struggle. After that, they both began motivating each other by using pirate slang, realizing their new lingo made the game more enjoyable. John and Mark would become pioneering advocates of International Talk Like a Pirate Day. They believed that talking like a pirate made everything else more fun. They launched their holiday on September 19th – Mark’s ex-wife’s birthday – and the two spoke in pirate language on that day every year for seven years.
To the rest of the world, it was just a normal day, but the founders of this special holiday wanted more people to join in on the fun. In 2002, they reached out two a newspaper columnist, pitching it as a topic for a potential column. Liking their idea, Dave Barry, a syndicated columnist and acclaimed writer, wrote about it in the Miami Herald. And from that day on, International Talk Like a Pirate Day became a thing.
How Do Pirates Talk?
Do you take part in International Talk Like a Pirate Day? If so, it’s likely that you’re doing it wrong.
Okay, so the holiday is meant to be fun and you can celebrate how ever you like, but most experts agree that the way we think pirates talked probably isn’t very accurate.
First, let’s remember that pirates have been around for a long time and still exist today. A pirate is simply a person who attacks and robs ships at sea. With this broad definition, a pirate can be of any culture, from any time period. So the belief that there is one universal pirate language is flawed.
When most of us think of pirates, however, we tend to think of those men and women from the classical era of Caribbean piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, those pirates didn’t say “arrrrr” and “matey” nearly as much as we tend to think they did.
Where Does Pirate Talk Come From?
Despite entire lists dedicated to so-called pirate talk, it is thought that much of these terms come from of all places, Disney.
Treasure Island was a 1950 live action adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel of the same name. In the film, Robert Newton plays pirate Long John Silver, and he earned praise from fans and critics for his believable pirate talk. In reality though, Newton wasn’t using pirate language at all, but instead based his character’s speech on a dialect from his native West Country in England.
But International Talk Like a Pirate Day is not a time to get pedantic. Remember, it is all about making everyday life more fun. So on September 19th, don your eye patch, put on your tattered sailing clothes, and make sure to address all scurvy dogs and landlubbers with your best pirate talk.
Want to play some pirate quizzes? Test your luck in the quiz below, or click here to find many more pirate quizzes on Sporcle. And on September 19th, make sure to earn your Shiver Me Timbers! holiday badge.
Mark Heald is an Associate Product Manager and Sporcle Admin. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and bemoaning the fact the Sonics left Seattle.