Today be the 19th o’ September, and lest ye be not aware, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.¹ Arrrrr.

¹ I hae been a celebrant o’ the holiday since 2007 when I first learned of it. That year I enthusiastically put together a series of posts, including a throw-away pirate name post followed by a rather dorky post on how to talk like a pirate, complete with spectrograms of “arrrrrrr.” I feel I did redeem myself, however, with my pirate resume and subsequent rejection letter. In 2008, I put up a pirate ThThTh list. In 2009, I apparently completely forgot about this important holiday. (My excuse was that I was in Spain. This is one of my all time favorite excuses, and I hope to have more opportunities to use it in the future.)


Friday, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Last year, I celebrated the event by writing a series of pirate-themed posts, including a pirate’s resume (and subsequent job rejection letter) as well as a tutorial on how to talk like a pirate. Oh, and also by saying “arrr” a whole lot. Arrrr.

This year, I prepare for the occasion with a list. Barely making it under the wire for this Thursday (at least in my time zone) is this pirate-themed ThThTh list. (This list be just a smattering of things piratical o’ me own choosin’. If ye be craving more, ye scurvy dogs, ye may want to drink o’ the grog offered by the scalliwags o’er at the official Talk Like a Pirate Day website. )

Yo, ho, ho.

  1. Get yerself a pirate name with this quiz. (Oddly, me own name has changed since last year, when I were Black Anne Cash.)
    My pirate name is:
    Black Anne Bonney

    Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate’s life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

    Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
    part of the fidius.org network

  2. Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel of pirates. Adapted into various movies. Including one with muppets.
  3. The Pirates of Penzance. A comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. A young man be apprenticed to pirates until his 21st birthday. (Which seeing as he was born on February 29th, won’t happen till he’s in his 80s.)
  4. “Pirate Jenny“. A song from the Threepenny Opera. I know the version by Nina Simone, which I didn’t find on YouTube. I did find (among others) a Dresden Dolls version of what may be the original German version of the song. (I can’t get the sound on YouTube right now, so I can’t tell…)
  5. Cutthroat Island (1995). Geena Davis plays a pirate. She kicks ass, in spite of the general suckiness of the movie.
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean. A Disneyland ride. Also some movies.
  7. The Dread Pirate Roberts. A character from The Princess Bride (book and movie). A pirate whose identity is used serially by various individuals.
  8. If ye want to get your swashes well buckled, loads more pirate movies can be found on a pretty comprehensive list by a pirate fan.
  9. MythBusters Episode 71: “Pirate Special”. Various pirate-related myths are tested, including the efficacy of rum as a laundry detergent and the use of an eye patch to preserve night vision. (Find the results here, if ye dare.)
  10. The Pirates! A series of short novels by Gideon Defoe. (The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Whaling/Ahab, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Communists, and The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon.) They are supposed to be quite funny, but I haven’t had a chance to read them for meself.
  11. Pirate’s Booty. A tasty cheesy-puffy snack food by Robert’s Gourmet.
  12. For more cheesy piratical goodness, check out The Skwib’s tale of curdaneer’s and exploding cheese on the high seas.
  13. My favorite pirate joke. (Adapted from this version.)

    A sailor meets a pirate in a bar, and they take turns telling about their adventures on the seas. The sailor notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook and an eye patch.

    The sailor asks “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?”

    The pirate replies: “We were in a storm at sea, and I were swept overboard into a school of sharrks. Just as me men were pullin; me out, a shark bit me leg off.”

    “Wow!” said the sailor. “What about the hook?”

    “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords. One of the enemy cut me hand off.”

    “Incredible!” said the sailor. “And how did you get the eye patch?”

    “Arr. That were from a seagull-dropping fell into my eye,” replied the pirate.

    “You lost your eye to a seagull-dropping?” the sailor asked incredulously.

    “Aye,” said the pirate,”it was me first day with the hook…”

unable to offer you a position at this time

Dear Mr. Rackham,

I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you a position as nanny in our home at this time. While we truly appreciated your time and efforts in coming to the interview, we feel that there is not a good match between you and our family.

Both little Emma and Neil were greatly intrigued by your colorful anecdotes. When Neil admired your stylish eyepatch, it was very considerate of you to take it off to let him wear it. The empty eye socket greatly impressed both children. However, I’m sorry to report that both children have been visited by frequent nightmares since the interview.

In addition, their teachers have sent home notes expressing concern that both children have been using increased amounts of inappropriate language at school. Neil was reported to have asked the lunchlady, “what’s crawled out of th’ bung hole, me hearty wench?” while Emma allegedly made another first grader walk the plank during gym class. When queried about this, Neil simply responded “Arrrr!”, and Emma scowled and waved what appeared to be a cutlass at me in a menacing way. (If this item was a gift from you, I must stress that this is far too generousa gift for such a small girl.)

You clearly have some strong ideas about discipline, and Mr. Smith and I appreciated all of your advice. However, we feel that corporal punishment, especially using the cat-o’ nine tails, is somewhat too harsh to use with children under the age of 7. There is also the matter of personal hygiene. We had hoped that our nanny would work with us to foster a reverence for cleanliness and neatness. However, both children have been quite taken with your statement that “washin’ more than twice a year be fer lily-livered scalliwags.”

While we had only expected that you would stay for the 45 minute inteview that we find typical, it showed great initiative that you were intent on moving in with us at that time, and remarkable perserverance that you chose to camp out in our yard upon hearing that we were not yet ready to make a decision about the position. We must ask, though, that you please consider departing as soon as you can pack your trunk and retrieve your parrot.

We wish you success in your search for employment.

Mrs. Jane Smith

p.s. Enclosed please find the names and address of a family on the far side of town who may be in need of a nanny.


This post is offered up as part of this week’s Monday Mission, which asked for posts in the from of a rejection letter. It can also be considered a follow-up post to last week’s submission of a resume.

On the topic of rejection letters, though, you should really check out this one, which is the funniest rejection letter I’ve seen.


pirateparrot.jpgHere it is, the day after International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I’ve still got pirates on the brain. But rather than bringing you a list of pirates for this week’s Themed Things Thursday, I’ll bring you a list of the frequent pirate’s companion: the parrot.

A Flock of Parrots

  1. Parrots are frequently to be seen on the shoulders of pirates¹, specifically of fictional pirates. Captain Flint was a pirate’s parrot in Treasure Island, the pirate novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. More recently, we’ve seen the pirate in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
  2. Parrots, especially African Grey Parrots, are well known as birds who can imitate human speech.
  3. This is no doubt the source of the use of the word parrot as a verb (transitive), meaning repeat without really understanding. As in “They parroted my parrot jokes, but none of them laughed.”
  4. You can find a variety of parrot jokes out there. (These even a site with pirate and parrot jokes.) This is probably my favorite parrot joke.
  5. Polly want a cracker? The stereotypical parrot sentence, whether said to a parrot, or by a parrot. Possibly popularized in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
  6. Poll or Polly has been a common parrot name for centuries, with an early documented use from 1611.
  7. Also in the nursery rhyme:

    Little Poll Parrot
    Sat in his garret
    Eating toast and tea;
    A little brown mouse
    Jumped into the house,
    And stole it all away.

  8. Then there’s the song “Polly,” by Nirvana

    Polly wants a cracker
    I think I should get off her first
    I think she wants some water
    To put out the blow torch

  9. Or Paulie (1998), a movie about a parrot.
  10. Parrots have been featured in various folktales from around the world, like 2 Buddhist folktales from India “The Brave Little Parrot.” (who puts out a forest fire²) and “The Steadfast Parrot” (who is faithful to a tree) and an
    Italian folktale (involving a prince who has himself turned into a parrot).
  11. Other moderately famous parrots include Waldo the Parrot, from Twin Peaks (who seems to have been present, and biting, the night of Laura Palmer’s death) and Parrot, the parrot with biting sarcasm from the Terry Pratchett novel Faust Eric
  12. Parrot Heads are the nickname given to fans of the musician Jimmy Buffett
  13. And to round things off, I bring you Python’s parrot. The ex-parrot. He is decidedly not pining for the fjords.


¹ Or about the arms and head, especially of those posing as pirates.

² Kind of like a friend of mine did recently, except he used a plastic bag to put out the fire.

how to talk like a pirate

jolly_roger.jpgWell, it’s finally arrrived. Today, September 19th, is Talk Like a Pirate Day. You’ve gotten yourself a pirate name, and brushed up on your pirate job skills. But are you still unclear on how best to talk like a pirate? Have no fearrrr.

There arrre many avenues to explore in learrrning how to talk like a pirate. An important resource is the “how to” page of the official Talk Like a Pirate Day website. There you can learrrn the basics (the 5 “A”s), more advanced pirate terminology (don’t confuse your hornpipe with your bunghole), and even advance all the way up to pick-up lines like this one:

How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

In case you don’t have time for such intensive language study, you may find one of several translators handy, like this one or this other one. This one acts as more of a phrase book, and allows you to produce such eloquent discourses as this:

Ahoy, me proud beauty! Be that th’ market? I’ve a fierce fire in m belly t’ have a bit of a lie-down’

Of course, it’s also important to work on your arrr, long considered to be one of the hallmarrrks of pirate speech. (If you’d like to learn the history of this phenomenon, The Language Log discussed this a couple of yearrrs ago.)

Here’s what you do to say “arr”:

  1. Step one: Say “ah”. (Your vowel may vary by dialect; [ɒ], [a] and [ɑ] are probably all legitimate.) You’ll probably want to put in a glottal stop at the start [ʔ].
  2. Step two: Quickly lower your third formant to produce the [ɹ] sound. This can be accomplished by curling the tongue back (retroflex “r”) or by bunching your tongue up (bunched-tongue “r”)

Now, if you want to say “arrr” like a pirate, the instructions above are just a starting point. To produce the piratical “arrr” tha we’ve come to expect. (Cf. Geoffrey Rush saying “arrr” in Pirates of the Caribbean), you really need to growl it. And for me, at least, this seems to possibly involve some pharyngeal frication, and possibly also some additional voice quality modifications. I’m not sure what I’m doing (not really just creakiness or breathiness), but it sure as hell isn’t modal phonation. A really effective arrr will also be quite loud: push the air strongly through those vocal folds, dammit. On top of all of this, you’ve got to really drag it out, especially the [ɹ] part. (Keep that 3rd formant down.) Arrrrr!!!!!

In an experimental study, subjects (N=2) produced both “normal” and piratical arrrs. Piratical arrrs were between 2 and 3 times the duration of “normal” arrrrs. See figures 1 and 2, below.

Figure 1: Arrrr! vs. ar, speaker A (male)

Figure 2: Arrrr! vs. ar, speaker B (female)

And in case you don’t have occasion to speak out loud today, you might try some pirate-style typing.


Shiver me timbers! Give me a job! Arrrr.

Dirty John Rackham


To contribute to your organization’s success through the use of exceptional customer service, managerial, and plundering skills. Or to find a position as a nanny. Arrrr.


  • Hard-working, tough-skinned swash-buckling individual with questionable personal hygiene
  • Exceptional versatility, adaptability and swaggering
  • Solid managerial, administrative and looting experience
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks in a pressured environment.

Interpersonal and Managerial skills

  • Interacted with and kidnapped a wide variety of personalities while pillaging, plundering, and wreaking havoc.
  • Delivered excellent customer service and conducted in-house plundering promotions
  • Proved multi-tasking abilities by scheduling and supervising crew of scurvy dogs, bilge rats and lily livered scalliwags
  • Served as right hand to notorious Bloody Captain Roberts (whose original right hand was lost to gangrene)

Administrative skills

  • Completed, submitted and burned edges of invoices and maps for buried treasure.
  • Fondled large sums of loot and booty.
  • Maintained rum inventory control.
  • Looted petty cash, payroll, inventory, accounts receivable and payable.
  • Said “Arrrrr!” a lot. (Mayhaps that be an interpersonal skill.)


  • Sailin’ the seas since I were a young lad and had all me teeth.


  • I learnt things th’ hard way. I got th’ scars t’ prove it, ye landlubber. Arrrr.


This post can be blamed on a confluence of unrelated events: the Monday Mission, which asks this week for a post in the form of a resume, and the approach of Talk Like a Pirate Day (which is coming up on Wednesday, September 19.) This resume is very loosely based on a sample resume. Actually, quite a lot of lines from the resume worked pretty well from that verbatim. Arrrr.


pirate_jack_rackham.jpg As Bloody Captain Rayner of the Fearsome Frigate Skwib informs, this week brings Talk Like a Pirate Day, an annual event that is marked by talking like pirates.

As we ramp up towards this venerable day, there are many piratical preparations to be made.

For a start, here’s a little quiz that helps you find your own pirate name. Don’t maraud on the high seas without one.

My pirate name is:
Black Anne Cash

Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You’re musical, and you’ve got a certain style if not flair. You’ll do just fine. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network