Three Tips To Talk Like A Tirate… er, Pirate   Leave a comment

Peter Pan Pirates Life

So, it’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and you want to go to all the big pirate parties that’re being held in town.  You don’t want to be a pirate poseur, of course, but you’ve never quite been able to get the pirate talk down.  Well, I’ve got three tips for you that should make you fit in.  Don’t hide behind the over-the-top tricorner hat or the hastily bought merchandise from the clearance corner of the local cosplay-mart.  Just follow these, and you should be good to go.

1) Speak With Your Throat

Even if you can’t figure out the subtle distinction between “Avast and “Ahoy”, the right growl in your throat can make up for it.  You don’t need to say a single “pirate word” if you can give your voice the right metaphorical swagger.  Use the same part of the back of the throat that you might use if you were imitating a frog.  Don’t just say “ribbit”, actually feel it.  Once you get “ribbit” down, you should be able to push the words out more forcefully.  Pirates don’t really talk, they sort of have this perpetually shouted growl that coincides nicely with the words that happen to come out of them at the same time.  If you can get the pirate growl, you’ll be a real timber-shiverer, and not someone who’s cheerfully muttering Arr every three or four sentences.

2) Pick Your Pirate

Have a pirate in mind, and stick with it.  There’s a sort of “default pirate” that everyone uses, but that isn’t your only option.  The gruff swashbuckler is often the go-to, while many other pirate models exist.  The gruff swashbuckler is the most fun and arguably easiest to pull off, but if you can convincingly imitate one of the classier strains of pirate then go for it.  The drawback is that classy pirates aren’t as recognizable.  Captain Hook is hard to pull off without a Captain Hook outfit.  The same thing goes for Jack Sparrow or Guybrush Threepwood.  Captain Barbosa, on the other hand, manages to have the classy demeanor while still being unquestionably a pirate.  Once you have a pirate in mind, find an easy phrase of theirs and figure out how they say it.  (For instance, if you go with Barbosa, just imagine the various ways that he says “Jack” in Curse of the Black Pearl.)

3) Use Your Apostrophes

The apostrophe is one of the greatest tools for people who want to talk like pirates.  Let’s see that sentence again: “Th’ apostrophe is one o’ th’ greatest tools f’r people who want t’ talk like pirates.”  See?  If you’re growling while saying that sentence with the apostrophes in place, my only recommendation is to replace the word “is” with “be” and you’re golden.  One more time: “Th’ apostrophe be one o’ th’ greatest tools f’r people who want t’ talk like pirates.”  That last change, however, is just for extra credit.  A casual observer wouldn’t care.  Now, it’s important to note that some people wouldn’t use an apostrophe in the word “to”, and would say “ta” instead of “t'”.  I think that this is fine in general, but you want to make the word short.  It’s a filler word, and pirates speak with a strange combination of laziness and crispness.  I don’t recommend relaxing it to “ta” until you have a handle on what you’re doing.

And there ya be.  There truly be more t’ talkin’ like a pirate, there truly be.  Replacin’ “is” with “be”, swappin’ words like “Hey” with “Avast”, and the nuanced care required for proper usage o’ th’ word “matey” be advanced techniques.  Yer welcome to try, but if ye just follow me three tips ye should be fine.  Until next year’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, me hearties, speak well!


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