Talk like a pirate – or travel to their haunts

Illustration of Blackbeard's Jolly Roger flag. It depicted a skeleton piercing a heart, whilst toasting the devil. Traced from a scanned image of Konstam's book. Source: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Illustration of Blackbeard’s Jolly Roger flag. It depicted a skeleton piercing a heart, whilst toasting the devil. Traced from a scanned image of Konstam’s book. Source: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Thanks be to me matey, Todd Moe, for a telling us all this be talk like a pirate day. It slipped me mind.

And that’s it, I’m done. Because it’s hard to talk like a pirate. After Argh, avast, ahoy and shiver me timbers, what’s left? (Some of ye can bestir yourselves to greater efforts, but my powder runs short.)

According to media and Internet sources, Sept 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Really.

Here’s more on that . Apparently a newspaper humorist is to blame:

Ever since Dave Barry mentioned us in his nationally syndicated newspaper column in 2002, what once was a goofy idea celebrated by a handful of friends has turned into an international phenomenon that shows no sign of letting up. Whether you be new to the notion, or one of the millions who’ve made it your own personal excuse to party like pirates every September 19th, welcome! Stick around, check out our social media sites, an’ learn all about September 19 – International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Coincidentally, I am recently back from time at Ocracoke Island, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where real pirates once made port, including Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard.

This Feb 2014 Smithsonian article gives a good account of “The Last Days of Blackbeard

…Blackbeard’s life and career have long been obscured in a fog of legend, myth and propaganda, much of it contained in a mysterious volume that emerged shortly after his death: A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates. Nobody knows for sure who wrote the book—which was published pseudonymously in 1724—but the General History almost single-handedly informed all the accounts that have come since. Parts of it are uncannily accurate, drawn word-for-word from official government documents. Others have been shown to be complete fabrications. For researchers, it has served as a treasure map, but one that leads to dead ends as often as it does to verifiable evidence, which scholars covet like gold.


Ocracoke Inlet, 1775 map, via Wikipedia, public domain.

While in Ocracoke we stopped by something called Teach’s Hole (full name: Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop). It’s a combination of pirate souvenirs and a small museum about Edward Teach and pirate days in the area. We’ve been there before, and paid the extra dollars to see the museum side. (But apparently one pirate flag is not enough, someone had to stop again so our household could own two.)

September is off-season so it was only us and the store owner. He said when they opened over 20 years ago it was difficult to find pirate-themed items, they had to find huge number of different individual suppliers. That go easier after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. But, he said, it’s sort of dying down again.

Of course, pirates have had their fans as far back as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure IslandPirate allure has legs. It won’t vanish, even if it ebbs and flows.

While at the store I was harassing my spouse about his boyish regard for pirate symbology. (And it is a boyish regard because he didn’t care enough to watch all the Johnny Depp Captain Jack Sparrow stuff.) Putting on my best schoolmarm identity I asked how any adult could seriously admire raping, stealing and pillaging honest, hardworking civilians?

The spouse had a decent rebuttal. He couldn’t really justify the larceny, nor the modern practices of piracy. But he has some regard for at least one aspect of the golden age of piracy, as a rare, early outlet of democratic organization.

Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, illustration from

Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, an early engraving by Benjamin Cole, via Wikipedia, public domain.

In a time when ordinary sailors were whipped and hanged for the slightest offenses, pirates sailed under “articles of agreement“, which they had some say in drafting and enforcing.

Not just thieves then, but free thieves. Little wonder they were hunted and hated by authority

By the way, according to the previously mentioned Smithsonian article, “…Despite his infamous reputation, Blackbeard was remarkably judicious in his use of force. In the dozens of eyewitness accounts of his victims, there is not a single instance in which he killed anyone prior to his final, fatal battle with the Royal Navy.”

Anyway, for those who like that sort of thing, this is your day!


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1 Comment on “Talk like a pirate – or travel to their haunts”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    Never heard of it.
    Then again, everyday and national something or an other day.

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