Friday, September 19, 2014

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Ahoy, me hearties! If ye didn't know, today be National Talk Like a Pirate Day! Bein' a landlubber, me pirate-ese be  frankly terrible. Ye might be surprised t' learn, though, how many o' our common sayin's came from pirates an' other sailors. Here b' five o' me favorites:

  1. Above Board. Many a crafty capt'n used this trick t' gain the upper hand o' their opponent: they'd hide most o' their men belowdecks t' fool approachin' enemies into thinkin' they be but a peaceful, unthreatenin' merchantship. Now, if somethin' be open and honest, we say 'tis "above board".
  2. Turn a Blind Eye. Many o' ye have probably heard tell o' the Battle of Copenhagen. If ye haven't, 'twas a fierce battle 'tween the English and Danish-Norwegian fleets, fought off the shore o' Copenhagen. Stories tell that Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, leader o' the main English attack, ignored his commander's signal t' retreat by lookin' through the telescope with his blind eye. The story be exaggerated; Nelson's commander gave him permission t' retreat, but didn't order it. But it be from that tale that we get the sayin' "to turn a blind eye", or t' intentionally ignore somethin'.
  3. Cut and Run. Even the bravest o' captains and crews sometimes had t' make a quick getaway when a larger enemy came upon them. If there was no time t' weigh anchor- or haul the anchor in- they'd cut the anchor line so they could make a run for it. Another possible origin b' the practice o' securin' sails with rope yarns that could easily b' cut t' run b'fore the wind from the 'forementioned foe. Either way, if ye "cut and run" t'day, ye b' gettin' out in a hurry, even if it means ye take a loss or two.
  4. Long Shot. Firin' a muzzle-loaded cannon be a mighty tricky business, and the guns b' accurate for only so far. So, if a pirate fired a "long shot", he might jsut b' wastin' his powder an' cannonballs, as the shot would b' unlikely t' hit true. T'day, we use "long shot" t' mean somethin' equally unlikely.
  5. At loose ends/At a loose end. Few capt'ns would tolerate idle hands aboard their ships. If they caught one o' their crew wi' nothin' t' do, they'd set him a task right quick. Often enough, that task would be t' check that the riggin' be secure, with no loose ends. This led to the sayin' "at loose ends" t' mean someone had nothin' to do.
  6. Shake a Leg. On some ships, the sailors would be allowed t' bring their wives (or other ladies) along on voyages. The woman, not bein' part o' the crew, had no duties, an' so they had no reason t' get up when the boatswain called the men t' rise an' shine. T' identify herself an' avoid punishment, a woman would throw a leg over the side o' her hammock. T'day, of course, lyin' about when someone calls ye t' shake a leg b' a bad idea, since they b' tellin' ye t' get t' work!
  7. Stern Lecture. Surprisin'ly, the "stern" part o' this phrase, which means a stiff reprimand, has nothin' t' do with the attitude o' the lecturer. Instead, it refers t' the stern (or rear) o' the ship, particularly the quarterdeck. The common crewmen were t' stay off this particular deck unless they had work t' do there- or unless an officer called them there to be disciplined!
I hope ye enjoyed me list, and that ye have a first-rate "Talk Like a Pirate Day"! Thank ye all for readin', an' fair winds t' ye!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

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