It supposedly is said that “one’s man pirate is another man’s noble sea captain.” Of one era, they were pirates and marauders, but in our era we have, colorful heroes and mad sea stories reaching back to Black Beard and way beyond.

Just a little info for those that love the language as I. The derivation of the word pirate rolls through the ages from Old French and Latin, and even Greek. The ancient Greek word translated directly to the word attacker. The root of the word, from the root peira, meant “trial, attempt, endeavor.” As we know them, of course, their endeavor was to get as much gold and well, “booty,” as we now know it. Quite the endeavor.

When the word pirate enters our mind in this century, it may also accompany buccaneer, swashbuckler, visions of gold and silver, and bottles of rum. We think of Errol Flynn’s eloquent but ferocious swordfights he was so deeply famous for. We think of Johnny Depp’s curious but endearing oddity as Captain Sparrow. The ferocity and violence of real pirates has been relegated to Disney entertainment and we love it.

The original and most influential pirate of film was someone you may have never heard of. In 1950 there was Robert Newton and he portrayed Long John Silver in way…well let’s just say we have a nationwide restaurant named after him. It was in the film Treasure Island and Newton started the pirate voice we know and love today. “Arrg” he says. I think it’s his version of Homer Simpson’s version of “Duh.” It sounds like something a brother would say to a sibling. Of course you must understand this most basic function of pirate English so you can intelligently discuss things on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Much like our Halloween holiday, we suspend our thoughts of horror and death in our beliefs to lionize a group of people that actually weren’t that great morally. Ghosts, goblins, and even little devils and demons prowl our streets along with our little pirates on Halloween night. We do have an attraction to the morbid and fantasy creatures. Let’s just face it, it’s fun.

I do love my pirates just like most anyone nowadays. We still have a very distinct pirate threat today, but that’s another day’s discussion and about another doubloon. For so many, our only view of pirates are from Disney, so we are gonna hang there. But, to make it short, sweet and pertinent, just remember Julius Caesar was once captured by pirates while traveling across the Aegean Sea to Asia Minor..
So, maybe a little more history? There’s some cool stuff about them you may not know.

Ultimately it goes back to the same Indo-European base as words like fear and peril. The Greeks and Romans were well aware of the perils of piracy. Pirate begins showing up in Middle English sources in the 15th century, at a time when European explorers were beginning to establish colonies and trading posts in far-flung places, from Asia to the Americas. But many of the early references to pirates and piracy related to voyages closer to home, on the Mediterranean Sea.

Okay, so we have kinda figured where and when all this started, at least with written history, but let’s face it, if there was boat loaded with fish, someone was eyeing it and thinking, “That could be mine.” Rebels have been around since Cain. Just remember this too though. Some sovereign powers used pirates.

A lot of art, as they say, imitates life. Shakespeare was clearly one of the all time translators of life into art. His play Twelfth Night mentions the duke Orsino calls Antonio, a great skipper, as a notable pirate. Well, you know, he does mention something about “a salt water thief.” Antonio wrote it off as him being a legitimate enemy of Orsino’s fleet.
Like I said, one man’s pirate…

There is a lot of piracy in this world. Software. Even bullies in school taking your lunch. Pirates have also, I mean the essence of pirating invokes the ideas of thievery. So really, the word has morphed way beyond its original connotation. It includes, in English, basically anything that revolves around hunting down anything that is not yours, from intellectual property to but taking it and claiming it’s yours. It’s been going on for centuries but has morphed into our language.
But that’s what this is really about. It’s just side notes, but you have to admit, interesting. So, let’s move on.

So, why do we recognize immediately other synonyms of pirates like buccaneer? The French coined this gem. Boucanier. Don’t you just want to say boucoup boucaniers? Seriously? Just me? Anyway.
So we have these folk of Hispaniola. These folk were called barbecuers, based on the food they took to sea. Yep, you read that part right. Now you know about bar – b – que.

That is all the history you need to know about pirates. Yeah, they were what they were, but like humans tend to be, we blow off the bad, remember the best, and we make it fun. Pirating is so much fun.
Here in Florida, where I live, we see pirate flags on so many boats, usually just below the US flag. It’s almost as if you see a pirate flag, you know it’s an American boat. Tee shirts abound. We even have the Gaspirilla Festival on the west coast of Florida which is basically THE celebration of pirates. Even Jimmy Buffet can’t celebrate pirates better. It’s a sad thing it has become a corporate event sponsored by Raymond James, but it is still fun The original rawness has been taken away but it has become a festival of the arts, so you can’t take that away from them. Arrg.

Captain Bear


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