Frequently* Asked Questions
*Including questions which we’ve actually be asked, if not “frequently,” at least “now and then.”
Q. The big one: WHY?
A. Why not?
Talking like a pirate is fun. It’s really that simple. It adds a zest, a swagger, to your every day conversation. Do you need another reason?
Try it out. Let go, have a beer, burp in public. Say “Aarrr!!” Feels good, doesn’t it?
A. International Talk Like a Pirate Day isn’t one o’ those government-sanctioned holidays that shifts around to create a convenient three-day weekend. No, the date is ALWAYS Sept. 19 (Cap’n Slappy’s ex-wife’s birthday.) Now, occasionally Sept. 19 falls on a Sunday, and we recognize that may not meet everyone’s desire for an excuse to party. While a lot of fun can be had celebrating TLAPD in a church setting (The choir will now sing, “How Great Thou Aaarrrrt!”) we’re suggesting that those of a more secular bent consider celebrating Talk Like A Pirate Weekend.
Q. What the heck is chum? And what’s a chumbucket?
A. Chum is fish bait, usually blood, fish guts and skin chopped up and poured on the water to draw bigger fish. In his book, “Shark Trouble,” Peter Benchley refers to an old salt from Australia who used quartered horse carcasses to attract Great Whites. A chumbucket is the bucket which would hold the chum. No, people do not usually, willingly, knowingly consume chum. Such references in his column are one of Cap’n Slappy’s little jokes.
Why is Ol’ Chumbucket the nom de pirate of one of the Pirate Guys? John, who gave himself the nickname, likes to imagine his pirate alter ego as a failed ship’s cook who was given the sobriquet by a crew unhappy with the choice of entreés from the ship’s galley. Sometimes John wishes he’d given himself a more fierce pirate name, but most of the time he realizes this is about right.
Q. OK, settle this once and for all. Is it “Arrrrrrr,” “Yarrrrr,” “Yarrrrgh” or what?
A. Ol’ Chumbucket has always held that the preferred exclamation be “Arrr!” and not, “Arrrgh!” because “Arrrgh!” is the sound one makes when one sits on a belayin’ pin and no pirate would intentionally do that.
But the fact o’ the matter is, thar be pirates what says, “Arrr!” AND pirates what says, “Arrrgh!” and thems what say, “Yarrr!” or even “Yarrrgh!” (Although “Yarrr!” tends to be a British variant and “Yarrgh” seems to be favored by the Dutch.)
But we don’t care how ye say it! Your “Arrr!” should just come from yer heart and yer bowels and be a fully formed expression o’ yer own Pirattitude!
Q. What does “savvy” mean?
A. Johnny Depp has a lot to answer for. For a time after the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” this was among our actual most-frequently-asked questions.
The dictionary defines “savvy” as “wisdom, understanding.” Used as a question,it can be taken to mean “get it?”
To help ye all remember, Cap’n Slappy has composed a little ditty:
It goes a little something like this:
S-is for the way you SASS my way!/ A-is for the ASS I kicked today!/ V and V-is VERY, VERY,/ stuck on how you’re scary /Y-is for your YAP that’s flappin’/ cuz ye won’t shut yer trap and …
SAVVY is just how bright you seem to me./ SAVVY an understanding wench, ye be. /Our love stands the measure /You know you’re my buried treasure /SAVVY is why you’ve chosen me!
Q. How about “Shiver me timbers”?
A. When the wind blows hard on a wooden ship, the timbers literally rattle. This is a cause for surprise and concern … therefore, “Shiver me timbers” is an expression of surprise.
Update: According to correspondent David Heizer: “To ‘shiver’ is defined by Merriam-Webster as, ‘to break into many small pieces : shatter’. ‘Tis not the mere rattlin’ of the timbers in the wind that strikes terror into the heart of a pirate, but the full and catastrophic shiverin’ (splinterin’) of the mainmast (and other masts), whether by gale winds or cannon, which would leave him dead in the water and at the mercy of foe and starvation alike.”
A. This qualifies as the Faux Pirate Usage That Most Often Drives Cap’n Slappy Nuts.( See question below).
T’quote the good Captain:
The use of “me” instead o’ “I” when the personal pronoun is the subject o’ the sentence would be more fittin’ to Talk Like Thag the Caveman Day! “Me” doesn’t have a “jolly ask of ye,” – “I” do! Now, ye use the possessive form “me” instead o’ “my” – which ye do just fine in “Catch me drift?” Which, of course, I don’t.
Q. Have you heard the one about the pirate who walks into a bar …
As Cap’n Slappy says:
Thar be only three pirate jokes in the world. The biggest one is the one that ends with someone usin’ “Arrr” in the punchline. Oh, sure, thar be plenty o’ these, but they’re all the same damn joke.
“What’s the pirate movie rated? – Arrr!”
“What kind o’ socks does a pirate wear? – Arrrrgyle!”
“What’s the problem with the way a pirate speaks? – Arrrrticulation!”
…and so forth.
The second joke is the one wear the pirate walks into the bar with a ships wheel attached to the front o’ his trousers. The bartender asks, “What the hell is that ships wheel for?” The pirate says, “I don’t know, but it’s drivin’ me nuts!”
And finally. A little boy is trick or treatin’ on Halloween by himself. He is dressed as a pirate. At one house, a friendly man asks him, “Where are your buccaneers?” The little boy responds, “On either side o’ me ‘buccan’ head!”
And there ye have it. A symposium on pirate humor that’ll last ye a lifetime – so long as life is violent and short.
And trust us, if you run into a fourth joke, we’ve heard that one, too. If ye think it’s a real winner, then send it to PirateJokes.Com instead o’ sendin’ it to us.
Q. Hey, have you heard about the connection between the decline in pirates and global warming?
A. Yes. Again, Cap’n Slappy:
Aye, we’re aware of the Rev. Bobby Henderson, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Pastafarians and have been in communication with them! And while we remain staunchly pagan in our religious practices, we do appreciate his scientific examination of the link between pirates and global warming. Would that other proponents of “religioscience” were even curious about it.
Q. How about the Pirate Keyboard.
A. Yep, that too.
Q. Your Pirate Quiz/Pirate Pickup Lines are sexist! Where are the good answers for female pirates, ye scurvy dogs?
A. The Pirate Personality Index is a much-abbreviated version of a longer, more complete and more gender-balanced test that apepared in our first (now out of print) book. We’re all for female pirates, believe us (and if we said otherwise, the Lusty Wench and the Web Wench would kick our butts). A woman can be a cap’n just as well as a man – in fact, the most successful pirate ever was a woman, Ching Yih Saoa, the widow of dread Chinese pirate Ching Yih. When he died, she took over the prosperous family pirating business and made it immensely more successful than ever. With a fleet of more than 1,000 junks divided into five independent squadrons, Ching Yih Saoa was not only the most successful woman pirate, she was easily the most successful pirate ever, anywhere.
But OK, OK … we’ve revised the online PPI test to make it more gender-balanced.
As for the pickup lines, we’ve always found they work equally well (depending on how you define “well”) whether delivered by a guy trying to pick up a gal or a gal trying to pick up a guy (or any other variation on that theme). But due to the high demand, Cap’n Slappy has added a set o surefire pickup lines just for the ladies. The No. 1 of which is:
“You. Pants off. Now.”
Q. Hey, you guys are great! Can I interview you for my newspaper/Weblog/TV station/radio station?
A. Sure, why not? Be aware, though, that the closer it gets to Sept. 19, the busier the Pirate Guys get (most years, they put in several round-the-clock days with remote radio interviews alone, miss several days of work and get so little sleep they almost miss their own TLAPD parties!.) In an effort to save our sanity, we’re trying to plan ahead for 2004, so if ye want an interview, visit our pressroom to get in touch. The guys are also open to personal appearances (David Letterman, are ye listening?) if ye’re willin’ to foot the travel bill.
Q. The Pirate Guys? Aren’t you a little full of yourselves?
A. Well, yes, we admit it. But we aren’t the ones who came up with that particular nom de pirate. The honor goes to Evan Grant, a sports writer from the Dallas Morning News, who was looking for a different story angle the Friday before the 2003 Super Bowl, which featured the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders, both pirate-themed teams. Grant remembered Dave Barry’s column and managed to track us down. He called looking for comments on the game from “the pirate guys.” Ol’ Chumbucket was particularly inarticulate that day, but fortunately Cap’n Slappy was really “on,” and the result was a very amusing column in the Dallas paper on Super Bowl Sunday – and a new nickname for us.
Q. How dare you guys take all the credit! Don’t you know pirate talk was practically invented by (fill-in-the-blank with yer favorite pirate movie actor).
A. For the record: The Patron Saint of Talk Like A Pirate Day is the late Robert Newton, who played, if not the first (that honor goes to Wallace Beery) at least the definitive Long John Silver in Disney’s 1950 version of Treasure Island. The whole “arrrrrr, matey” thing seems to have been Newton’s own invention, and he milked – er, played it for all it was worth, reprising the classic pirate in 1952’s “Blackbeard, the Pirate.”
But we liked Johnny Depp, too.
Q. What do I wear on Talk Like a Pirate Day?
A. You know, the Pirate Guys get this question a lot, so pardon us if we sound just a little testy.
It’s TALK like a Pirate Day, not DRESS like a pirate.
You can certainly dress up in pirate garb if you want to, but that seems like a lot of trouble to us. Besides, there already is a Dress Like a Pirate Day. It’s called Halloween. We are not huge fans of costume parties (well, maybe we’re huge, but we’re not fans) and tend to go with what’s comfortable.
Ol’ Chumbucket is partial to Hawaiian shirts, the gaudier the better, while Cap’n Slappy prefers the “classic look,” i.e., any T-shirt he finds in his laundry that doesn’t smell too obvious.
If ye’re still at a loss, visit our Pirate Booty store at cafepress.com, where ye’ll find a wide variety of excellent garb to help ye commemorate International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Q. Speaking of booty, what happened to the “Pirate booty” underwear? I was wantin’ to get a pair fer me favorite wench!
A. Alas, the fine folks at cafepress sometimes add and remove products without warning. It’s a shame, but since we’re too cheap to set up our own store with actual inventory an’ such (cafepress stores are free) we’re stuck with it.When they bring the panties back, we’ll offer the “Booty” design (among others). Meanwhile, can we interest ye in a nice thong? Or a pair of boxers?
Q. Not put a downer on all the fun, but aren’t pirates “bad” people? Don’t they steal and kill and stuff?
A. Well … yeah. You got us on that one.
Let’s get this straight. Real pirates were and are bad people and are in no way worthy of emulating.
We, on the other hand, are thinking of movie pirates, the pirates of books, myth and legend. Think Long John Silver in “Treasure Island.” Pretend pirates.
But Talk Like a Pretend Pirate Like Long John Silver was just too long to catch on.
So when we urge you to TALK like a pirate, we don’t mean you should ACT like a pirate. The Pirate Guys are solidly against pillaging, plundering and slaughtering like pirates.
Q. Wait a sec! Pirates weren’t evil people! Their ships were democratically organized and … yada yada yada …
A. Arrrrrgh. OK, all you pirate partisans just duke it out with the Pirates Were Evil gang. We’ll be over here drinkin’ our grog.
Q. You keep talking about “guys.” Is there some difference between guys and men?
A. Yes, and we’re glad you asked that, because it gives us yet another a chance to kiss a little ass of our close personal friend, Pulitzer Prize-winner Dave Barry. He explains the difference as well as it can be explained in his book, “Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys.” It’s a very funny book and explains why men can be trusted to run large corporations, but guys shouldn’t be trusted with a Salad Shooter. It’s available at your local bookstore or online at all the usual places. It’s very funny.
A. They most certainly can. Being a pirate guy is a state of mind, not a matter of chromosomes. It’s about bringing the spirit of pirate adventure into your daily life, and there’s no reason women can’t do that just as well or even better than regular guys.
Some women were blessed at birth with the ability to enjoy fishing and football and beer and gnawing on a plate of ribs, and some guys are lucky enough to be married to them.
Q. What do you call a woman pirate?
A. What difference does it make what sex the person is once she’s captured your ship and slit your throat?
There’s no special term for a woman pirate. Anne Bonny was a pirate. Mary Read was a pirate. Not “pirette” or “piratess” or any other demeaning term. Just pirate. Oh, sure, you can refer to a woman as a “wench,” and that has a piratey feel, but technically, a woman pirate is still a pirate. In fact, using the term “woman pirate” as if that’s somehow different than “pirate” completely misses the point: Your cargo’s been stolen, your ship is sinking and you might be dead. That’s the point. Everything else is just details.
As Gertrude Stein might have written if she’d been a buccaneer instead of an expatriate author – pirate is a pirate is a pirate.
Q. We notice in the Contact section of the site that there is an e-mail link for wench at talklikeapirate.com. Is that one of the female pirate guys you mention?
A. It sure is. That is Tori, the wife of Ol ‘Chumbucket – or as she prefers to be known, Mad Sally, the Lusty Wench. Ol’ Chumbucket knew he had found the perfect woman when she showed up at his apartment to help cook ribs and watch a Super Bowl. Who could ask for anything more?
Q. We can’t help noticing that your Web site, while a lot of fun, is rather light on historical information about pirates and even pirate lingo. What’s up with that?
A. First, credit where credit is due. The fun stuff was the work of our gifted, brilliant even godlike Webmaster (or as we call her, Webwench) Pat Kight, aka Jezebel.
As to the lack of “serious” content, hey, have you noticed? We’re guys. Our idea of research involves more beer and pizza delivery than actually looking things up. If we get something right, that’s cool, but it’s not even close to our first priority.
There are plenty of on-line resources that are just chock full of factual information and history and even classroom lesson plans on pirates. Find some of ’em on our Pirate Links page.
Q. Where can I find a (English-to-pirate translator, pirate name generator, piratical events, pirate performers, etc.)
A. Go to our links page. We’ve got a long and growing list of things piratical that can be found elsewhere on the Web, and it’s worth explorin’. But before ye do, don’t forget to add this site to yer “favorites” or “bookmark” list so ye can get back to us fer updates!
Q. Can I borrow your clip art/countdown clock?
Q. Can I/my group/my Web site be the Official Talk Like A Pirate Day (fill-in-the-blank)? Pleeeeeease?
A. The thought o’ “official” goes against the grain o’ the freewheelin’ spirite of pirattitude. True, we have “official” British and Australian Talk Like A Pirate Day sites, but they got their requests in early, an’ we may have been drunk at the time. We’ve sobered up, an’ it takes an especially entertainin’ or endearin’ appeal – or a good bribe – to win the Pirate Guys Seal of Approval.
An it’s risky, t’boot: After A former crewman induced us to declare the decommissioned USSJohn Young the “Official Naval Vessel of Talk Like A Pirate Day,” the Navy took her out t’sea and sank her for target practice.
Let that be a lesson to ye.
(However, we’re also pretty free with the “official” monicker, so if you want to be the first-ever Official TLAPD Fill-in-the-Blank, just ask.)
Q. This may be off the subject, but is Ol’ Chumbucket’s favorite quote something he once heard a co-worker say?
A. Funny you should mention that since we were reminded of it by the answer to the last question.
In his newspaperin’ days, Ol Chummy heard a reporter come back from interviewing a “little old lady” and comment on the decor, saying, “The knick-knack shelves were choc-a-bloc with bric-a-brac.”
Q. Don’t you guys have lives?
A. No problem! We enjoy, even welcome nosy, personal questions that try to dig into our personal lives!! Really!
Yes, we have jobs with serious sounding titles attached to them. We assume our employers would rather we leave them out of this. (We would assure them that we’re doing this all on our own time. Probably.)
Ol’ Chumbucket has many kids, most of them grown, who also would just as soon not get dragged into this.
Cap’n Slappy is past-president-for-life of a local civic organization, and is even licensed to marry people! (He’s available at reasonable rates. Ask him for details!!) Mad Sally is a school teacher, and the Webwench is, well, a webwench.
Got yer own questions? Ask away!