Did Pirates Speak Pirate?Christian Calhoun
“Avast ye scurvy dogs and swab the deck before I feed ye to the sharks!” Is what most people imagine a pirate to say after waking up on the wrong side of the bed. The typical pirate talk, elongated with extra ARRRRS and AHHOYS has made its way into accepted pirate movies, music, and even holidays. The worldwide ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ is beloved by some and ridiculed by most. But how does one talk like a pirate? And how do we know that pirates even talked like the way Hollywood and Disney portrays them to? Let’s debunk this pirate myth!
First off, there is no historical evidence that pirates spoke the traditional pirate talk. But, to be fair, there is also no proof that they didn’t talk the pirate dialect. There is, however, history of where this accent came from, and it didn’t originate in 17th-century papers or books. It actually came from the famous Disney actor, Robert Guy Newton. He developed his unique pirate accent after assigned to acting as Long John Silver in the 1950’s ‘Treasure Island’ film. Robert used the accent because several pirates’ homelands were in England, which also happened to be Robert’s own home. He used his native accent, exaggerated it a little bit, and TADA! the pirate accent was born.
That isn’t to say that pirates didn’t use this accent. It’s just doubtful. Pirates came from all around the world; so it is logical to assume they wouldn’t have all spoken the same dialect of rough English. Espanol, Francais, Arabic, and many other languages were all spoken by pirates, as they came from many different countries. Combine several different styles, and you have your pirate accent all done up.
Even though the stereotypical pirate talk isn’t historical in the least, it’s still fun to enunciate yer ARRRs and talk all funny like. But don’t stop there, add a few words from other languages. Now that’s real pirate talk!