That bunch of boxes is ɑɹɹɹɹ, in honour of it being “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”. Now, I think there’s also a dialectal variation of ɒɹ, and maybe even ɒɻː, which warrants further investigation. Just for the record, post-vocalic r-deletion does not apply in this word.

The things people think pirates say is astonishing and fascinating. There’s a whole vocabulary for imitating pirates. My frequency impressions for “avast”, for example, have been well and truly messed with.

Then there’s the genre of pirate-speak that’s roughly similar to pseudo-archaic English and pseudo-Scots, complete with “methinks” and “ye” and “be Xing”, as in this priceless “Avast ye salty dogs! They be doing this in yon moving pictures for years! Have ye no seen a Bruce Willis movie? Arg. Ye must flense away the 10 pounds yon camera adds. Yarr!” (from a comment thread on Bitch PhD’s site).

Anyone interested in doing a study for a cultural anthropology/linguistics article on pirate perceptions?

When I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to KUHF (my local classical radio station) and the host Elaine Kennedy said something like this: “I hear it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day today. I’m not sure what it’s all about, and it’s really a guy thing. Women participate by being called ‘me beauties’. arr.” To which I have but a single thing to say. aaaaargh.


4 responses to “ɑɹɹɹɹ

  1. As I discovered last night, ABC has a show called “Wife Swap” in which two families trade their lady of the house and then try to teach the new wife as fast as possible how to become the family’s slave. Anyway, one of the families featured in yesterday’s show was a family of pirates, and the wife was very much involved in the whole pirate thing. She, however, was not a pirate herself, but rather a “princess”. Maybe the special day could become more inclusive by being renamed “International Talk Like A Pirate Or Like A Kidnapped Princess Day.” Gender roles would be preserved, and fun would be had by all.

  2. I don’t want to be a kidknapped princess though, I want to talk like a bona fide timber shivering mainbrace splicing plank walking ɒɹ-saying pirate! Piracy should be an EEO/AA field.

  3. Hmmm. I think there’s a strong case for arguing that the Pirate ‘accent’ is some form of West Country brogue. I base this merely on the fact that Bristol (or, Braah-stul, in the local accent) was the centre of Britain’s maritime trade and a major port for the slave trade. Additionally, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset all have strong links with the privateers/pirates and smugglers. Check out Moonfleet or Treasure Island, for example.

    ps. I have no background in linguistics whatsoever.

  4. My son said pirates say, ‘Aaargh me hearties, we looking for treasure’ (post-vocalic ‘r’s intact, no small feat for a kid from Darwin). I think I detected some West Country in there too.

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