N

How to talk like a German pirate

Cartoon pirate with parrot skip to content

This was so good, we're offerin' it to ye in its entirety:

Courtesy o' Maat Ruven the faded-black

For your pirate lingo dictionary at www.talklikeapirate.com, I have a few additions, just in case that you want to sail new waters: German pirate lingo!

That's true, there were german pirates, too. Stoertebecker was the greatest among them. I just wrote up some of the most popular german pirate and nautical terms for a website called 'nifty' I visit regularily (that's why the word 'nifty' appears so often in the text...), and thought maybe you could use it, too. If you are interested, here it comes (if you are not, here it still comes. We are pirates after all, not democrats, arrr!):

  • Brise: wind. "Eine leichte Brise" is barily noticable, "eine steife Brise" makes you hold your hat. If you which a pirate luck, end it with the wish "und immer eine steife Brise!" ('and always a strong wind')
  • Ankern: to anchor a ship. Also called 'vor Anker gehen'. If you want to stop somewhere, regardless of if you have a ship with you or not, this s the nifty german pirate term for it.
  • Backbord: The left side of a ship, or port. Nowadays, that is where the red light shines, but back in the pirate days the red light of course shone in the harbor bars.
  • Bug: The front side of the ship, or prow/bow.
  • Entern: to capture a ship.
  • Enterhaken: grappling hook
  • Entermesser: a cutlass. A real pirate never leaves his cabin without one.
  • Hai: a shark. "Zu den Haien schicken" means to send someone to the sharks.
  • Haken: a hook, like every pirate has one instead of his hand. "Bei meinem Haken!" would be a good curse or affirmative, e.g.: "We'll sink them, bei meinem Haken!"
  • Hamburger Feermaster: a large ship from Hamburg with four masts. Part of a well-known sailors song, which starts like "Ick hebb mol en Hamburger Feermaster sehn Tomyhooooday, tomyhooooday, de Masten so schiep as dem Schiffer sein Bein Tomyhooooday hodayhooooh..." If you are doing nothing, mumbling "tomyhoood ay" under your breath will make look like a nifty german pirate.
  • Hanse: A powerful merchants union from the 13th century and later, the Hanse controlled almost all cargo ships during Stoertebecker time. As such, the Hanse is still a great name for a pirates adversary.
  • Heck: The back side of the ship, or stern.
  • Irrlicht: Will'-o'-wisp. The "Irrlichter" (plural) are feared too, for they trick ships to sail on rocks or are sure signs for imminent disaster if seen in the rigging.
  • Kielholen: Drag people along the keel of the ship. 'Keelhauling' in english. Since 'Kiel' is also a port city in germany, 'Kielholen' can be used for really bad pirate puns.
  • Klabautermann: a kind of sea kobold. Although small in size, the Klabautermann is greatly feared among seafarers, for to see it on your ship will surely mean it will sink. "Beim Klabautermann!" makes a great curse or affirmative.
  • Kogge: A merchants ship from the 13th century. When talking like a pirate in germany, this is the archetypical victim, or "Prise", of the pirates. Plural 'Koggen'.
  • Küstenschiffer: Derogatory term for a sailor or pirate, implying that he clings near to the coast and fears the high seas.
  • Landratte: Literally a 'land rat', a common derogatory term for someone who is not a sailor at all. Plural 'Landratten'.
  • Leichtmatrose: Derogatory term for another sailor. Implies that that one isn't used to the high seas.
  • Maat: An official rank on a ship, below 'Kapitän' or better "Käpt'n". If there are only two pirates, one is probably the "Käpt'n" and the other one the "Maat".
  • Papagei: a parrot. If you want to express your surprise at something, you could say "Da fällt mir doch der Papagei von der Schulter!", which would literally mean something like "that makes the parrot fall from my shoulder", but is intended to mean you are surprised.
  • Pfeffersack: Literally a bag of pepper, this is a derogatory term for a merchant, and probably for anyone who you want to plunder. Plural 'Pfeffersaecke'.
  • Planke: the plank. "Über die Planke schicken" means to send someone over the plank, into the shark-infested waters of course.
  • Priese: Pirate lingo for a ship that is supposed to be plundered. Like 'victim', but referrring to ships.
  • Reeling: The outer edge of the deck. "Über die Reeling gehen" means going overboard.
  • Schillerlocken: a meal consisting of cooked shark flesh. Quite befitting a pirate.
    • I just found the German section! A "Schillerlocke" is not actually "cooked" shark meat but smoked strips of shark belly - fair tasty it be too! The plural is "Schillerlocken", named after the curly locks of hair of one Herr Schiller. They were given this name because the strips of shark meat curl as they are smoked. -- Geof Barker - in Cap'n Stärtebecker's footsteps
  • Smutje: The cook of a ship. If there are only three pirates, one is probably the 'Käpt'n', one the 'Maat' and one the 'Smutje'.
  • Steuerbord: The right side of the ship. Starboard in english.
  • Stoertebecker: The famous german pirate who harassed the ships of the Hanse merchants around the end of the 13th century from his hideout at Helgoland. If you swear, "bei Stoertebeckers Bart!" would be a good addition.

Ahoy und immer eine steife Brise, beim Klabautermann !!!


A number o' German visitors to th' site have added to our knowledge o' the German pirate tradition, includin' Chris, o' Morgan Hill CA, who writes:

I just ran into your site today and very much enjoyed your german pirate slang page!

I am from Hamburg, Germany, the town of Klaus Stoertebeker, the famous pirate! Some interesting facts: Klaus Stoertebeker was beheaded on october 20, 1401 in Hamburg, by the river Elbe, on the "Grasbrook".

Legend has it that his crew lined up and he - headless - passed them, one by one, to salute them. Today, there is a bronze statue of Klaus Stoertebeker in the Hamburg harbor, that you can see from the water. You can find a picture and some more information (in german) on this site.

And here, as a special little gift to you, the lyrics to the song about the "Hamburger Veermaster" - in plattduetsch (the dialect that is spoken in Hamburg) - an old sea shanty and drinking song

1. Ick heff mol en Hamborger Veermaster sehn,
To my ho dae! To my ho dae!
De Masten so scheef as den Schipper sien Been,
To my ho dae ho dae ho ho ho ho!
Blow boys blow for Californio,
There is plenty of Gold
So I've been told,
On the banks of Sacramento.

2. Dat Deck weur vun Isen, Vull Schiet uns vull Schmeer.
To my ho dae! To my ho dae!
"Rein Schipp" weur den Käpten Sin grötstet Pläseer.
To my ho dae ho dae ho ho ho ho!
Blow boys blow for Californio...

3. Dat Logis weur vull Wanzen, De Kombüs weur vull Dreck,
To my ho dae, to my ho dae!
De Beschüten, de leupen Von sülben all weg.
To my ho dae ho dae ho ho ho ho!
Blow boys blow for Californio...

4. Dat Soltfleesch weur greun, Un de Speck weur vull Moden.
To my ho dae, to my ho dae!
Köm gäv dat bloß an Wiehnachtsobend.
To my ho dae ho dae ho ho ho ho!
Blow boys blow for Californio...

5. Un wulln wi mol seiln, Ick segg dat jo nur,
To my ho dae, to my ho dae!
Denn leup he dree vorut Und veer wedder retur.
To my ho dae ho dae ho ho ho ho!
Blow boys blow for Californio...

6. As dat Schipp weur so weur Ok de Kaptein,
To my ho dae, to my ho dae!
De Lüd for dat Schipp weurn Ok blot schangheit.
To my ho dae ho dae ho ho ho ho!
Blow boys blow for Californio...
Keep up the good work! Chris, Morgan Hill CA


Fan Jan Gebhardt offers a few more:

"Tod und Teufel!" - a pirate's exclamation; death and devil

"Mast- und Schootbruch!" - salute used by sailors and prtates

Important pirates-song:" "Fünfzehn Mann auf des Toten Kiste, hohoho... und ne buddel voll Rum!"


Nice site :-) I have 2 comments you might want to add :

A wish for sailors : "Eine gute Heimkehr und immer eine Handbreit Wasser unterm Kiel" which means : a good return from your voyage and (at least) as much water under the keel of your ship as a hand is wide.

The Stoertebecker story (is it really a legend?) is not correct on your "howto" page, man sollte Euch dafür kielholen lassen! He had an agreement that all those crew members would not been killed, that he manages to pass after beeing beheaded. So he passed them to save their lifes, not to salute them.

One of my co workers is from Kiel btw., I wonder if he could teach me talk like a real pirate. I guess I will try to learn it for the next "talk like a pirate day". I promise to do my best :-)

-- Volker


Still more on Stoertebecker, from Marcus Werner

Aye ye mighty Pirates,

me frightening german pirate has some historical corrrection of your story of Stoertebecker, as Helgoland never was _his_ Headquarter, as it was the headquarter of his tutor Goedeke Michel.

His first headquarter had was Ruegen in the Baltic sea and when the Hanse was able to secure the Baltic sea he followed his friend and tutor Goedeke Michel into the Northern Sea. But as Goedeke Michel was firrst there, he claimed Helgoland forr his headquarter and Stoertebeker had to look for anotherr Hideout. And he chose no Island, as he chose Marienhaven as his headquarter.

Be sure that I speak truly to ye, as it is the truth,... arr by the running corpse of 'ol Stoertebeker himself.

And I also speak to ye truly when I say that his name wasn't Stoertebecker, since his name was NOT derived from the german form of the trade of Bakers / Bäcker / Becker.

He got his name when Goedeke Michel challenged him with three tests he had to pass to become a member of his crew. The first one, I tell you, was to break free from chains, the second, I still speak truly, was to straighten a horseshoe and the third was to empty a huge mug of wine. And as he was drinking, I tell you, the crew cheered at him to down it in one huge swoop and they cheered "Stör te Beker" wich is old german and means as much as "Stürz den Becher", wich could be creatively translated as "Chug-a-lug".

Ah, and about his tutor, the Goedeke Michel. His name was pure sarkasm, as Michel never was as benevolent as his name "Goedeke" said, as his whole name meant "Gütiger Michel" wicht is translated as "Benevolent Michael".

So farewell ye mighty pirates, I will empty my mug, an leave with the next tide.

"Eine steife Brise in den Segeln und immer eine Handbreit Wasser unter dem Kiel" wishes,


Boy, pirates must be popular in Germany.

Katrin writes: "Moin (north german way to say Hello, does NOT mean good morning, but nice day) ye Pirates,

"I´ve got some more comments for your german pirates.

"- Klabautermann, yes, he is feared, but he is also very important for the ship. If he appears on deck in a storm, this mean that you have to check your boat, especially the tar between the planks. Often the ship can be saved. He will show you the dangered parts of the ship.
There is a story where the Klabautermann comes from. People believed that the souls of young, murdered children will live on in the trees around. If you take on of those trees and build a ship with it, the soul will leave the tree and start to live in the ship as the Klabautermann.

"- You forgot one of the most important things, the Fliegender Holländer or Flying Dutchman. Today most people think of it as a small sailing boat, but in fakt it is a ghost ship. It sails some feet above the water and will always go towards the wind with swelled sails. When you see it be sure some one beloved lost their life to the sea.

"- Elmfeuer, special sort of Irrlichter. They dance on the rig and alluminate it spookily.

"- Kalfatern, to close the gaps between the planks with tar and oakum. One of the most important duties on board to avoid the Klabautermann!

"- Leichtmatrose is an official name for sailors in training, they had passed nine month as Moses or Schiffsjunge (shipboy) and 12 month as Jungmann. Today they are all called Matrose.

"- The Moses is important on ships. They are young, beloved or hated by the Käpt´n (nothing in between). I think they are the last to live... when everyone is dead they can tell the story.

"And the Smutje is the most imporatant person on board. Imaging 30 wild pirates not getting good food......

"Allzeit gute Fahrt und immer eine Handbreit Wasser unter dem Kiel!"

Katrin


"Schanghaien" jemanden Schanghaien is to press someone into sailor (or pirate) duty with the help of Rum or a belaying pin.
Seemst to be named after the Chinese City. -- Stefan


Another German pirate song, sent to us by Elizabeth, who learned it during a "German lock-in" at school:

Alle die mit uns auf Käperfahrt fahren (Everyone who wants to go on the raid with us)
Mussen männer mit bärten sein (Must be a man with a beard)
Alle die mit uns auf Käperfahrt fahren (Everyone who wants to go on the raid with us)
Mussen männer mit bärten sein (Must be a man with a beard)
Jan und Hein und Klaus und Pitt (Pitt Pitt!)
Die haben Bärten Die haben Bärten (They have beards, they have beards)
Jan und Hein und Klaus und Pitt (Pitt Pitt!)
Die haben Bärten Die fahren mit (They have beards, they come with)

Alle die Tod und Teufel nicht fürchten (Everyone who's not afraid of death and the devil)
Mussen männer mit bärten sein (Must be a man with a beard)
Alle die Tod und Teuful nicht fürchten (Everyone who's not afraid of death and the devil)
Mussen männer mit bärten sein (Must be a man with a beard)
Jan und Hein und Klaus und Pitt (Pitt Pitt!)
Die haben Bärten Die haben Bärten (They have beards, they have beards)
Jan und Hein und Klaus und Pitt (Pitt Pitt!)
Die haben Bärten Die fahren mit (They have beards, they come with)

Alle die mit uns zur Holle mit fahren (Everyone who wants to go to hell with us)
Mussen männer mit bärten sein (Must be a man with a beard)
Alle die mit uns zur Holle mit fahren (Everyone who wants to go to hell with us)
Mussen männer mit bärten sein (Must be a man with a beard)
Jan und Hein und Klaus und Pitt (Pitt Pitt!)
Die haben Bärten Die haben Bärten (They have beards, they have beards)
Jan und Hein und Klaus und Pitt (Pitt Pitt!)
Die haben Bärten Die fahren mit (They have beards, they come
with)

And another verse, submitted in 2009 by Melitta, who learned it as a child:

Alle die Frauen und Branntwein lieben,(All those who love women and brandy)
Mussen Männer mit Bärten sein (Must be men with beards)
Alle die Frauen und Branntwein lieben,(All those who love women and brandy)
Mussen Männer mit Bärten sein (Must be men with beards)
Jan und Hein und Klaas und Pitt
Die haben Bärte, die haben Bärte (They have beards, they have beards)
Jan und Hein und Klaas und Pitt
Die haben Bärte, die fahren mit (They have beards, they sail with us)

Another fan, Aresius, the Varangian, found a YouTube rendition of the above by a band called Die Streuner. And yet another version by the famed German punkrock band Die Ärzte.

Next: How to talk like a Dutch pirate!