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Arrr! For International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Here Be The 15 Greatest Pirates

Some be real, some be fictional, and some be from Pittsburgh…



Avast! Pirates, buccaneers, corsairs, privateers…call them what you will, but the men (and women. . . But yeah, mostly men) who’ve terrorized the seven seas for centuries are among the most iconic, romantic figures in history. Of course, that’s only true with a degree of historical perspective. The Somali pirates off the horn of Africa seem like real assholes today, but maybe generations from now they’ll be celebrated like their rum-swilling forbears. Today, as we all know (right?) is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, so in honor of these scallywags, we’d like to celebrate the greatest pirates in history. . . and how to talk like them.



REAL PIRATES

Sir Francis Drake
Before “El Draque” (The Dragon) helped save jolly ol’ England from the Spanish Armada in 1588, this swashbuckling seaman circumnavigated the globe (only the second to do so), raided the Spanish Main, captured 20 tons of gold and silver (which was subsequently buried, like all proper pirate treasure should be), and briefly settled in California. For all this, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake (a "pirate" to Spaniards, but a "hero" to the British), who died having captured over $100 million in booty, and arguably the greatest nickname in the history of piracy (though Blackbeard might argue that.)
How to talk like Francis Drake: “The fleet of Spaniards is somewhat above a hundred sails, many great ships; but truly, I think not half of them men-of-war. Haste.”

Jean Lafitte
Along with his elder brother Pierre, the French-born Lafitte was a true Pirate of the Caribbean, plying his trade from New Orleans to Mexico, Haiti to Nicaragua.Born in France…or Spain…or Haiti….or Westchester, NY (really?), the Lafittes ultimately settled in Louisiana, where they built up a smuggling empire, before joining the United States forces in their conflict with Britain during the War of 1812. Eventually, Lafitte established Galveston Island off Texas as the base of his operations, and was killed by Spanish forces in 1823...but not before a series of tall tales grew up around him, not unlike Robin Hood or Paul Bunyon. He definitely had some stones on him: according to lore, when the governor of Louisiana offered a $300 reward for Lafitte’s capture, the pirate responding by offering a $1000 reward for the governor’s capture. Today, you can raise a glass to the man at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans, allegedly the oldest bar in America.
How to talk like Jean Lafitte: "If you were thoroughly acquainted with the nature of my offenses, I should appear to you much less guilty, and still worthy to discharge the duties of a good citizen."

Blackbeard
Born Edward Teach, the man known to history as Blackbeard was among the most fearsome pirates in history, terrorizing the West Indies and the Southeastern U.S. with his dark, dreadlocked beard festooned with smoking fuses. When he was killed by Captain Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy off the coast of North Carolina in 1788, his body was riddled with gunshot and saber wounds. Ian McShane portrayed Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and as much as we love McShane, you really shouldn’t see it.
How to talk like Blackbeard: “Let's jump on board, and cut them to pieces."

Sir Henry Morgan
Also know as: Captain Morgan. Also known as: the guy on this list most likely to get you drunk. 
How to talk like Henry Morgan: "Got a little Captain in you?” (okay, that’s just the rum’s slogan, but still.)

Black Bart
Bartholomew Roberts was laboring on a slave ship when, in 1789, he was captured by (wait for it) PIRATES! That would have been quite a setback to most, but the man who would earn the name Black Bart went on to become the most successful pirate in history. Described in 1724’s the General History of Pyrates as “a tall black [i.e. dark complexioned] Man, near forty Years of Age...of good natural Parts, and personal Bravery, tho' he apply'd them to such wicked Purposes, as made them of no Commendation, frequently drinking 'Damn to him who ever lived to wear a Halter'.” Whatever that means. There’s also a theory that Black Bart was really a female transvestite, so make of that what you will.
How to talk like Black Bart: “In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labor; in this, plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour look or two at choking. No, a merry life and a short one, shall be my motto."

Keith Richards
No explanation necessary.
How to talk like Keith Richards: 

 


FICTIONAL PIRATES

The Dread Pirate Roberts
Named, in part, after Black Bart, the Dread Pirate Roberts was both fictional (in that he’s a character in The Princess Bride) and also in that he wasn’t just one person, but a persona passed down from pirate to pirate over the years. In The Princess Bride, the hero Westley is captured by the pirate, begs for his life, and ultimately inherits the name when the previous Roberts retires. After all, "No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley." Inigo “You Killed My Father” Montoya presumably takes the title when Westley weds his true love, Buttercup.
How to talk like the Dread Pirate Roberts: “As you wish!”

One-Eyed Willy
We don’t really know all that much about Willy, other than the fact that he active in the 1630s, died off the Oregon coast, and that the Goonies gang went off on their adventure in search of his “rich stuff.” While loads of pirates lost their hands (see: Captain Hook), or their legs (see: Long John Silver) Willy was apparently "one-eyed" from birth; you may remember that creepy moment when Mikey lifts up his eye patch to reveal...bone! No empty socket, just...bone. Also of note: He gave his name to several sex acts.
How to talk like One-Eyed Willy: Well, you can’t. He’s dead.

Long John Silver
Peg-legged anti-hero of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, owner of the parrot, Captain Flint, and proprietor of the eponymous seafood-chain, Silver has been portrayed on the big screen by Wallace Beery, Orson Welles, Brian Blessed, Eddie Izzard, Anthony Quinn, Tim Curry, Jack Palance, Charlton Heston, and shitloads of others. An extra bit of trivia: the Beatles were once called Long John and the Silvers! Now, the Beatles (let’s be honest) is a pretty dumb band name, but it’s better than that.
How to talk like Long John Silver: ““There's never a man looked me between the eyes and seen a good day a'terward"”

Captain Hook
The Disney version, not the Dustin Hoffman-Robin William-Steven Spielberg version.
How to talk like Captain Hook: "I have given me word not to lay a finger, or a hook, on Peter Pan. And Captain Hook never breaks a promise."

Jack Sparrow

Photo: Walt Disney Collection/ Everett Collection | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

It’s strange to think now, but before he took on the swishy, slurry, Keith Richards-y role in Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny Depp had never starred in a true blockbuster. Well, Johnny got an Oscar nod out of it, and we the audience got Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter, Sweeney Todd, and Tonto. Okay, maybe we were better off without Jack Sparrow.
How to talk like Jack Sparrow: “Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly... stupid.”
 
 

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Roberto Clemente
Hall-of-Famer, 15-time all-star, four-time batting champ, 12-time-Gold Glove Winner, MVP, World Series MVP, US Marine, humanitarian and hero, Clemente is arguably the greatest Latin player in baseball history – depending on how Albert Pujols finishes his career.
How to talk like Roberto Clemente: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth.'' (this is more effective if you can say it in Spanish.)

Willie Stargell
Pops! The hulking slugger led the Pirates to their last World Series title in 1979, the same year he won the NL MVP.  He also won the Series in 1971, was an All Star seven times, won two home run titles, and entered the Hall of Fame in 1988.
How to talk like Willie Stargell: Just sing “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

Barry Bonds
Er...never mind.
How to talk like Barry Bonds: “Not guilty, you honor.”

Andrew McCutchen
The front-runner for this year’s NL MVP is on the cusp of leading the oft-beleaguered Bucs to their first postseason in decades. Last year he finished second in the league in hitting, with a .327 average; this year he’s currently third with an average of. . . .327. Kid’s consistent!
How to talk like Andrew McCutchen: ‘Losing, losing, losing, losing. That's all you hear after a while. I'm most excited I don't have to talk about it anymore. We can put it to rest and move forward.”

And if that's not enough pirate booty for you, a month from now the Treasure Island Music festival hits San Francisco for what's sure to be a grog-soaked good time. Such swashbuckling acts as Beck, Atoms for Peace, Sleigh Bells, James Blake, and Japandroids will be serenading land-lubbing revelers on October 19th and 20th with all your favorite sea shanties, from "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest" to "Yo Ho! A Pirate's Life For Me!" to "Shiver Me Timbers". Sadly, weapons are prohibited, so please leave your muskets and cutlasses behind.