How a racquetball game turned into an international day of slang
In case it is not marked prominently – in red letters – on your calendar, Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
The idea was formulated on a racquetball court on June 6, 1995. John Baur and Mark Summers of Albany, Oregon, were participating in the sport (not very well, according to their recollections) when one of the athletes let out an “aaarrrrrgh” while lunging for the ball. That turned into the two men using pirate phrases the remainder of the game, which made the match more fun and caused the time to pass more quickly.
On the spot, they decided there should be a Talk Like a Pirate Day, but needed a date to observe the match other than June 6, which is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion that started the end to World War II. Summers came up with Sept. 19 – his ex-wife’s birthday – and the marketing plan began.
Actually, it was not a very good marketing plan, either. The two men decided that syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize recipient Dave Barry would be their spokesman.
After several years of low-key celebrations (usually Baur, Summers and another friend), the two originators found Barry’s email in 2002 and sent him their idea of an international day to talk like privateers. Barry wrote about the idea in his humor column, and, as they say, the rest is history.
If you want to have more of a pirate vocabulary than “aaarrrrrgh” and “shiver me timbers,” the website referenceyourdictionary.com has compiled a list of 50 pirate phrases. Among them:
Another website, islands.com is actually created just for those who want to observe the Sept. 19 special day. You can talk like a pirate, even if you are a landlubber.