Let us drain a goblet, clink cannikin and toss a pot to language!

The Pirate Primer

The Pirate Primer

Sometimes working in publishing can be really depressing. I’m not talking about being upset because an author stopped just short of calling me an idiot for suggesting his manuscript is less than perfect. Or getting down about a book I love not selling as well as everyone in the house hoped. Or being frustrated because I have a deadline and my computer just crashed for the fourth time before 10 a.m.

I’m talking about a deeper, more existential depression. A Sartresque nausea, if you will. Each week in my beloved media newsfeeds, some writer or industry expert or public intellectual trumpets the death of publishing, the death of literacy, the apathy of the public toward anything deeper than Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? This is hard to stomach when we’ve all pretty much devoted ourselves to the idea that words and how they’re put together matter. A lot.

But on this day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday most hallowed and absurd, I’m reminded that despite streaming video and that badass iPhone and one-click shopping, humans are still madly in love with, and hungry for, language.

Sure, pirates are cool because they got to swing cutlasses and never had to bathe and established on their ships some of the first colonies of democracy, but what really makes them awesome is the way they speak—or misspeak. Today is not Dress Like a Pirate Day or Mutiny Like a Pirate Day (although the latter’s tempting). We’re celebrating language. And that does me half-masted heart good.

Today at F+W, our North Light Fine Art editorial and design team is hosting a pirate bake-off. (Clear the decks for Melissa, a dare-and-be-damned messmate if ever one be, who proffered the rum cake!) I will be posting pictures of the merriment in hopes that it will inspire your own celebration of general debauchery in the name of creative grammar.

For now, just for fun, I’ll leave you with a rewrite of the first paragraph of this post. In pirate, of course. Many thanks to Cap’n George Choundas, blood-‘n’-beef author of The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbuckers and Rogues, who taught me everything I know about the runaway account an’ its gallowsy talk, with a curse.

What I says is, the work of publishing be pox-riddled ‘n’ pitiful, as the tides roll, an there’s an end on’t. To the Devil with mewlin’ for a pestiferous author who names me a sickling sea snake, jus fer darin’ to draw me blade cross ‘is mangy scrawl. Hang th’ book o’ my heart fer not sailing into a fairer wind. ‘Od rot a deadline an’ computer mutiny afore five bells is made, or let me drownd.


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