Friday, September 19, 2014

How Do Pirates Talk?

I find this whole talk-like-a-pirate thing very annoying. First of all, on International Talk Like a  Pirate Day, are we to assume that all pirates speak English? That they roll their "r"s and speak like Long John Silver? And secondly, what does a pirate actually do? Why would people even want to talk like pirates?

What is it about Pirates? It's a mystery to me why so many people like pirates in the particular shallow and unrealistic manner in which they have come to imagine them. And yet I feel I ought not to ignore this opportunity to acquaint people with Jean Laffite, as personified in my two Theodosia and the Pirates novels.

Jean Laffite by Lanie Frick
as seen on the cover of Theodosia and the Pirates

Jean Laffite was not a pirate.  But how he talked depended very much on who it was he was speaking to. To Spaniards, he spoke in Spanish. To Frenchmen, he spoke in French. To African slaves, he spoke in a creole that they understood. He was able to shift to the language of his interlocutor, no matter what language that was,

Besides that, Laffite's speech was characterized with proper diction and politeness. We don't have any samples of his spontaneous spoken speech, but I think that the samples of his writing that we do have would give you some idea of what sort of English he used.

Maybe we should have a talk-like-a-privateer day, in which we all practice speaking as politely as possible to each other. Instead of saying "pass the salt" we would say "would you have the kindness of doing me the honor of passing the salt?"

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