For International Talk Like a Pirate Day, take a read of Cal the cabin boy’s blog about different pirate phrases he learned on his adventures aboard ship.
I’ll be with you in a brace of shakes! – means right away! (Before a ship’s sail shook twice.)
Sailing a pirate ship is really hard work! We have to run up to the top of the masts to deal with the sails. We use the rat lines to do this which are like rope ladders.
More really hard work! – Hauling on ropes to pull up the canvas sails – pushing the bars on the capstan round and round to wind in the heavy cable that holds the anchor – working the pump to get water out of the bilges – the lowest part of the ship. Then we have to scrub the decks to keep them smart!
Belay that noise! – means stop that racket!
Perhaps it’s our singing! The crew are allowed time off called ‘make and mend days’.
We wash and mend our clothes. Pirates wear loose, baggy clothes because they make it easy for us to move around the ship. We tie scarves round our heads and plait our hair in a pony tail. Our captain wears a long jacket, big boots and a three-cornered hat.
We trim our hair and beards. There is usually someone who plays a violin or a flute so we sing and dance.
Dead as bilge water! – means very dead indeed! The water that gathered in the bilges was disgustingly smelly and sometimes the smell knocked people out!
Food on the ship is quite smelly, too! Stores of drinking water turn slimy. Food goes off very quickly. Meat is soaked in salt water and packed in barrels – it’s tough and nasty. Porridge is made from peas or oats. Ships biscuits are dry and full of insects.
Because we sailors don’t get much fresh fruit or vegetables we can get a disease called scurvy – teeth and hair fall out, we get boils and lose energy.
I’m scuppered! – means I’m finished! To scupper a ship meant to blow holes in its side so it sank.
Pirates attack ships so they can get at the goodies they’re carrying. There might be something we can sell like fine cloth, spices or china. There might be gold or silver objects,
jewellery or money.
Don’t believe the stories that say pirates buried their treasure to keep it safe! We’re more likely to sail for the nearest port to spend our money! Some of us save up for our retirement!
Shiver me timbers! – timbers were legs – or perhaps a pirate’s wooden leg. If your timbers shivered you were a bit afraid. It could mean ‘Good gracious!’
When we find a ship to attack, we play a trick! We see which country’s flag they’re flying then we put up the same flag. The ship thinks we’re friendly! We move in, throwing hooks on ropes to pull the ship close. Then it’s over the side and attack, using our cutlasses and pistols, shouting and shrieking and looking as horrible as we can!
Written by Scoular Anderson, best-loved author and illustrator of some of our Collins Big Cat readers.
Take a look at our Collins Big Cat reading books related to pirates.