What Is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? The History, Accents and Jokes That'll Get You Hooked

Wednesday—International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2018—gives wannabe seadogs across the world encouragement to speak like the buccaneers that have brought terror to sea trade routes throughout human history.

Created by friends John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy) of Albany, Oregon, in 1995, the day became well-known when the two men contacted humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002 to tell him about their creation.

The idea for the day actually originated on June 5, 1995, during a game of racquetball, when one of the men was injured and yelled "Aaarrr." However, out of respect to the anniversary of the World War Two Normandy landings, the men postponed their celebration. They later chose September 19 because it was Summers's ex-wife's birthday and therefore would be easy to remember.

Though pirates have existed for as long as boats, popular culture generally focuses on the bandits who sailed the Caribbean and American seaboards between 1650 and 1730, in what became known as the golden age of piracy. After this, international cooperation, stronger national navies and the loss of safe havens in the Caribbean saw the dreaded raiders go into decline.

Thanks to Hollywood's influence—and particularly Robert Newton's performance as Long John Silver in the 1950 film Treasure Island—accepted "pirate speak" is similar to the accent of the West Country region of the U.K.

The rolling "rrr" so evoked by pirate-lovers is a notable element of West Country dialect. The area has a strong maritime heritage, long associated with the fishing industry, navy and illegal smuggling. The area has historically boasted many major ports, and it has been speculated that this nautical association made an unmistakable mark on the British sea-faring dialect.

The novel and movie adaptation of Treasure Island has arguably done the most to define the pirate image in the modern world. Peg legs, parrots, harsh accents and treasure maps have all become synonymous with the early modern nautical ne'er do wells, largely thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson's book and Byron Haskin's big-screen version.

A man dressed as a pirate poses at the Malecon in Puerto Penasco, Sonora state, Mexico, on March 26, 2017. PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

For a helping hand in converting your day-to-day landlubber speech, there is even an online pirate translator. Facebook has come up with a similar idea, and today is giving users the option of changing their page's language to "English (Pirate)."

The Talk Like a Pirate Day official website offers all the resources devotees need to have a truly piratey day, such as nautical-themed party games, songs and drinks recipes. You can even subscribe to the website's newsletter, which is called "The Poopdeck."

In celebration of this year's Talk Like a Pirate Day, Newsweek has collected a handful of themed jokes you can use to inflict some pain on friends, family and colleagues:

Why does it take pirates so long to learn the alphabet?

Because they spend years at C.

How did the pirate get his Jolly Roger so cheaply?

He bought it on sail.

What happened when Bluebeard the Pirate fell into the Red Sea?

He got Marooned.

What's a pirate's favourite music genre?

Rum and bass.

How do pirates prefer to communicate?

Aye to aye!

Why are pirates called pirates?

Because they arrrrr.

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