Join the 'Avast' Conspiracy

Swashbuckle Down and Improve Your 'Pirate Day' Vocabulary

Raise yer flag: Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

hide captionRaise yer flag: Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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Humorist Dave Barry's new book, "Boogers Are My Beat."

hide captionHumorist Dave Barry's new book, Boogers Are My Beat: More Lies, but Some Actual Journalism from Dave Barry.

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Today, as many may not know, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The holiday was decreed in 1995 by two Oregonians, John Bauer and Mark Summers, who then and every year since — for just one day a year — have sprinkled their discourse with the odd "ahoy" and "avast" and addressed all and sundry as "me hearties."

But now, on this ninth annual observance, the question is raised: Has success spoiled International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Columnist Dave Barry, the holiday's single most important booster, says he's fed up with the holiday — sort of. He tells NPR's Robert Siegel that people need to expand their pirate vocabulary beyond "Arrrr."

Expand your pirate lingo with these excerpts from the Official Talk Like a Pirate Day Web Site:

Basic Pirate Lingo

Pirate lingo is rich and complicated, sort of like a good stew. Here are the five basic words that you cannot live without. Master them, and you can face Talk Like a Pirate Day with a smile on your face and a parrot on your shoulder, if that's your thing.

Ahoy! — "Hello!"

Avast! — Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"

Aye! — "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."

Aye aye! — "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."

Arrr! — This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

Advanced Pirate Lingo

Once you've mastered the basics, you're ready to start expanding your pirate vocabulary. Try these for starters:

Beauty — The best possible pirate address for a woman. Always preceded by "me," as in, "C’mere, me beauty," or even, "me buxom beauty," to one particularly well endowed. You'll be surprised how effective this is.

Bilge rat — The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It's loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. On TLAP Day: A lot of guy humor involves insulting your buddies to prove your friendship. It's important that everyone understand you are smarter, more powerful and much luckier with the wenches than they are. Since bilge rat is a pretty dirty thing to call someone, by all means use it on your friends.

Bung hole — Victuals on a ship were stored in wooden casks. The stopper in the barrel is called the bung, and the hole is called the bung hole. That's all. It sounds a lot worse, doesn't it? On TLAP Day: When dinner is served you'll make quite an impression when you say, "Well, me hearties, let's see what crawled out of the bung hole." That statement will be instantly followed by the sound of people putting down their utensils and pushing themselves away from the table. Great! More for you!

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