Ahoy mate, now if ye’ve ye heads about the region of ye shoulders ye’ll be well aware o’ the upcoming joy that is Talk Like A Pirate Day on 19th September. Tis a noble celebration of the bastard accent and I commend all who attempt it. As a practisin’ pirate it falls to me and me kin to attempt an elucidation o’ the elements that’ll bring ye to a satisfying piratical climax. So to speak.
Now there be several elements to makin’ ye pirattitude evident. There be ye accent, aye. And also ye attitude. Some may find a certain distortin’ o’ words enables ye inner buccaneer to swash his buckle. I’ll lead ye through me own thinkings and ye may apply the learning to ye own heart.
First here: ye accent
Aye. We’ll first of all scorn them as are knowledgeable about language who’d doubtless spoil our games by pointing out that ‘ye’ be pronounced ‘the’. Tis a convenient abbreviation o’ the ancient thorn ‘th’ sound. However, we’re in the realm o’ fantasy in the nature of our piracy and we can happily ignore ’em. Nay – gash ’em with ye cutlasses, but descend not to the level o’ text speech. Or I’ll cut ye.
I can offer but a few hints, for the ability to piraticise ye voice depends on a number o’ factors. First, have ye consumed rum – or at least strong dark ale? If not, tis like ye voice’s the quality of a choirboy. Ye must roughen it somewhat (without renderin’ yerself mute for a week) with liquor, or salt-air breathing – tis up to ye. I favours the grog in me later years. Ye’ll likely find ye lips be-quirk in odd ways when ye speechify – practice first ye ‘arrr’. I’ve found a full-throated ‘gaaargh’ to broaden me dialect and ready me for the corsair consonants that follow.
Second, compile ye accent. First, try out ye finest West Country accent (‘oo-arr, that’s roight me lover, I’ve a great fondness for ye marrows’) – tis ye typical mocking farmer accent, but has a grace and warmth about it – try here for a sterlin’ example o’ the talk: http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/sounds/text-only/england/melksham/. Tis the accent used and allegedly initiated by one Robert Newton o’ Hollywoodian fame. Now add to that the kind o’ Irish accent that ye Americans think runs wild about ye Emerald Isle, with no regard for the distinct sound of ye Irish folk. Aye, I’m meanin’ ye ‘Lucky Charms’ type o’ accent.
Blend ’em together. Ye should aim for one third West Country, one third cereal-box Irish and a third o’ total bollocks.
Second here: attitude
You’re a pirate – scourge o’ the seas, lover o’ women though ye be oft unwashed and then with brine. Ye’re a manwench o’ vitality and force. Ye take on the ocean’s odds daily and mostly come off well. There’s a cutlass in ye hand and mayhap a prosthesis or two about ye other limbs. Master o’ the waves, answerable to none but ye beloved crew. Aye – stick that in ye pipe or tankard (for them as are not smokin’ folks). Tis the force behind ye words as ye sit, a merwench in ye lap, and declaim at ye colleagues that’ll tide ye over when ye accent fails ye. (And if ye be keepin’ it up all day, it likely will.) Answer ye telephone with a roar.
Third here: language
Make it up. Aye. Tis true. Hack and slash ye own words till they fit the rhythm of the waves. When ye speaks imagine wooin’ a merwench with ye oceanic poetry. Croon to ’em and draw ’em in with ye neologistical courtship. If ye seeks inspiration be a-visitin’ the pages o’ Shakespeare and Chaucer. Them’s be the rolling near-verse like sounds ye seek.
Perhaps I might inspire ye similarly. I humbly offers to ye me own fruits. Nay ye daft sod tis not an offerin’ o’ that sort. Dive deep into ye voice and relish it. I guarantees ye a day o’ joy (and later agony o’ throat) – now enjoy. Perhaps ye might like to read one of me adventure to ye reluctant workmates? Tis a fine way to acquire the voice and encourage ye fellows. Find all the adventures here.