International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Today, September 19 (What is it?)

By Zack
September 19, 2013 10:02 am Last Updated: June 24, 2015 8:26 pm

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is today, but what is it, exactly?

How it started

The day started after a group of friends was playing racquetball in 1995, and began encouraging each other using pirate slang.

After the game, the friends decided that it was so much fun to talk that way that they must make a new national holiday, Talk Like a Pirate Day. 

One of the friends, Mark, came up with September 19 as the date. 

“That was and is his ex-wife’s birthday, and the only date he could readily recall that wasn’t taken up with something like Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” according to the official website. “We also decided — right then and there on the court on June 6, 1995 — that the perfect spokesman for our new holiday was none other than Dave Barry himself, nationally syndicated humor columnist and winner of the Pulitzer by-God Prize. So, naturally, we forgot all about it.”

Then, in 2002, one of the friends sent an email to Dave Barry, a nationally syndicated columnist. Later in the year, after several email exchanges, Barry wrote a column about the International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

“Today I want to tell you about two such people, John Baur and Mark Summers, who have come up with a concept that is going to make you kick yourself for not thinking of it first: Talk Like a Pirate Day,” wrote Barry. “As the name suggests, this is a day on which everybody would talk like a pirate. Is that a great idea, or what? There are so many practical benefits that I can’t even begin to list them all.”

Barry said that he had sought and gotten the support of famous people including Tom Cruise, Oprah, and Tiger Woods.

“I have decided to throw my full support behind Talk Like a Pirate Day, to be observed this Sept. 19,” he wrote. 

According to Baur and Summers, the day has become quite famous. 

“Talk Like a Pirate Day has been a HUGE success, far bigger than anything Mark and I ever imagined. We imagined we’d have our 15 minutes of fame. As my close personal friend Dave said, ‘This thing may be big. Maybe 20 minutes.’

“I am looking forward to the day when they put up a plaque at racquetball court No. 3 at the Albany YMCA, where Mark and I first came up with this idea. As I told my daughter Millie’s fifth grade class this morning, this is one of the silliest things I’ve ever done, but it’s been fun, and we’ve just been riding the wave ever since.”

How to celebrate

Baur and Summers say that talking like a pirate is fun and simple and should be done a lot on this national holiday.

“It gives your conversation a swagger, an elán, denied to landlocked lubbers,” they write on the official website. 

Some basic phrases include

Ahoy! (Hello); Avast! (Stop and give attention) and Arrr! (yes, I agree, I’m happy, or other possibly meanings)

Advanced words include grog (an alcoholic drink, usually rum diluted with water); hornpipe (Both a single-reeded musical instrument sailors often had aboard ship, and a spirited dance that sailors do); and lubber (someone who doesn’t go to sea)

Read more about pirate lingo on the official website

(Another tip: on Facebook, go to the bottom of any page and click to change the language. There’s an (English) beta option)