Pirate Speak

american nic   Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:26 am GMT
This has been bugging me: where is the dialect that is so often used by actors to portray 18th century pirate from?
Guest   Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:28 am GMT
The "Arr, mee maties" accent?
Lazar   Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:55 am GMT
I've read that it's based on the Cornish accent. It's similar to rhotic West Country accents that you can still hear today.
Trawick   Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:46 pm GMT
The pirate speak is indeed the West Country dialect.

The common pirate phrases "yar" and "ar" are actually West Country words. While you'd be unlikely to ever hear somebody in Dover say those words today, they can still be heard in rural parts of Newfoundland, where many people trace their ancestry to that part of England.
Rick Johnson   Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:15 am GMT
The accent is still alive and kicking in South West England although in reality it's a little less guttural and harsh. It's an accent that is still used for maritime characters such as the Captain in the Simpsons- although I think the producers seem to think it's Dutch.

<<While you'd be unlikely to ever hear somebody in Dover say those words today>>

Dover is in the South East and has an accent similar to London. Fishermen in Cornwall still sound similar to pirates though.
Rick Johnson   Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:18 am GMT
<<The common pirate phrases "yar" and "ar" are actually West Country words.>>

If you ask British people to do a modern West Country rural accent, most will say something along the lines of "Ooh arr fer'ilizer"
Tom K.   Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:40 pm GMT
JC Wells in Accents of English 3 says that the Barbados accent is very close to "Pirate" speech.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:10 pm GMT
CORNWALL is an amazing county, quite unlike any other in England......I felt a kinship when I was there last year because of the Celtic connection; my only mega let down was was not hearing any of the proper Cornish Language being spoken although the accent was pretty strong with quite a few people, especially one occasion in this pub in a place with the delightful name of Mousehole (which is pronounced as "MA-oo-zl")...it had a group of really old guys having a good time and there was no way I could understand what they were saying...probably one reason was that the pub was crowded, mega lively and mega noisy. We sat near another group in another pub in Polperro another night and I could just about understand some of what these guys were saying.

Both Mousehole and Polperro are just two of many fishing villages in Cornwall, tiny harbours with houses and inns and pubs around the harbour and it's easy to imagine the days when pirates really did operate from these tiny villages.

I found the younger people in Cornwall much easier to understand...there is definitely a generation age gap thing with regard to accents down there, much as in other areas of this country, as the real old Cornish accent seems emanate from the older people, nae doot about that. As in the rest of England a wee bit of Estuary is there with young Cornish people, and to us, as Scots just listening to thwm or chatting with them, a bit mixed in with standard English RP.

Going through Somerset on the way down and on the way back from Cornwall we were disappointed not to hear the famous "Zummerzet ooohh---aaarrrr..ooooohh..aaarrr...we wants aaarrr point o' zoiderrrr" " except,again, from a few old people. In Glastonbury everybody seemed to speak a wee bit posh RP, in the shops and cafes as well ;-) It's only when I'm in some parts of England, especially the South, that I become conscious of my Scottish accent.....bit strange that.
Uriel   Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:17 pm GMT
It IS weird when you go to a different place and realize that suddenly, you talk funny....