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Guest Wordsmith John (Ol' Chumbucket) Baur (chumbucketATtalklikeapirate.com) writes:

Every September 19, people around the world celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's been marked on all continents -- even Antarctica. Why? Because it's fun, it's anarchic. Its very whimsy -- trying to get everyone on the planet to talk like a stereotypical Caribbean buccaneer on the same day each year -- sets it apart from other holidays.

The holiday had its genesis during a racquetball game between John Baur and Mark Summers, two friends in Albany, Oregon. It was a private joke that went around the world. The rest is, if not history, at least a good story, which you can read at their site. To help you celebrate the day this year, we offer a sampling of words based on pirate lingo.

A note -- I've often heard people talk about pirates' "cockney accents". Wrong! The stereotypical pirate has a Cornish accent, based on the performance of Long John Silver by actor Robert Newton in the 1950 Disney version of "Treasure Island". He was from Cornwall, and his over-the-top performance and native accent are the reason people think that's what a pirate sounded like. Of course, pirates came from all nationalities. But the pop culture image is firmly embedded, and Robert Newton is the reason.

(John Baur worked 23 years in the newspaper business and two years as a university science writer before casting his lot as a pirate author and performer. He and Summers are co-authors of the book "Pirattitude!")

buccaneer (buk-uh-NEER) noun

1. An unscrupulous adventurer in politics, business, etc.

2. A pirate.

[From French boucanier (buccaneer, barbecuer, hunter of wild ox), from boucan (a frame for smoking meat), from Tupi mukem.]

See more usage examples of buccaneer in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Buccaneer comes from a French adaptation of a Carib Indian word bukan, a way of slow-cooking meat over a low fire on a grill. The first bouncaniers were interlopers in "Spain's" Caribbean, and the Spaniards tried to drive them out. It was only too easy for England to recruit the buccaneers into attacking Spanish interests. So modern day barbecuers, with their Weber gas grills and comical aprons, are actually descendants of the classic Caribbean pirates.

"[Greg] Palast's book is packed with groundbreaking new information about the corruption of empire, the lies of our leaders and the raiding of the treasury by crony capitalists and corporate buccaneers." John Nichols; Giving 'em Hell - And the Truth; The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin); Sep 7, 2006.


Very few established institutions, governments, and constitutions ... are ever destroyed by their enemies until they have been corrupted and weakened by their friends. -Walter Lippman, journalist (1889-1974)

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