Talk Like a Pirate Day Fun Facts

Sep 16, 2015, by Dr. Becky Coats

Talk Like a Pirate Facts
It’s that time of year again, when everyone (okay, some people) decides to give up their modern lingo and talk like a pirate for a day. That’s right, Saturday is Talk Like a Pirate Day. This humorous holiday helps fill the doldrums between Labor Day and Halloween when everyone’s sails seem to fall slack as autumn rolls in. Some fun facts about pirates:

The pirate flag was called the Jolly Roger, but we don’t know why. The popular skull and crossbones flag was adopted by many pirates as a warning to ships they were attempting to raid. Some people think that the name comes from a red flag that used to be used as a warning that they (like the Dread Pirate Roberts) would show no mercy. In French, this was known as the “Joli Rouge” (pretty red) flag, but there are other explanations.

Some pirates had custom flags. For example, the most feared pirate of all, Blackbeard, had a flag that featured a horned skeleton holding an hourglass in one hand and a spear in the other. There was also a heart dripping three drops of blood. Go figure the symbolism on that one!

Pirates really did have codes of conduct. Keeping order on a ship with so many bloodthirsty characters was a constant challenge. To help keep the order, pirates had a strict code, with every ship making its own rules. Common rules were that everyone could vote, people weren’t allowed to gamble or fight on the ship, and no one could bring a date to the ship. Pirates also offered workers’ compensation for pirates injured in the line of duty.

Pirates were common all around the world. Although we typically think of pirates of the Caribbean (I wonder why?), pirates were actually found all around the world.

There were women pirates, too. There weren’t many women pirates, but a few are well-known. For example, the women Anne Bonny and Mary Read had a close friendship (some say it was more than friendship) and sailed together on the ship of “Calico Jack” Rackham. One of the most successful woman pirates was Ching Shih, commanded up to 80,000 pirates in her fleet that raided the South China Sea during the early 19th century.

Grog was originally a dilute mixture of beer and water. Sometimes other additions were made, such as sugar and lemon juice, and eventually the drink mostly came to be made with rum and water because rum was plentiful in the Caribbean.

Eye patches weren’t just for covering missing eyes. Although we associate the eye patch with an injury, some think that pirates also just covered one eye so it would always have night vision for seeing in the dark below deck.

Pirate’s treasure isn’t what you think. Pirates plundered whatever cargo they came across. This could include gold and jewels that were being stolen from the New World and sent back to coffers in Spain, Portugal, England, or France, but it could also be raw materials or even finished goods. Pirates would sell the cargoes and divide up the earnings, so they often didn’t bury the treasures they captured.

Pirates often had legal mandates for piracy. Piracy was often just a form of asymmetrical warfare. British, French, and Dutch rulers gave pirates license to raid Spanish ships because their fleets were too weak to take on the Spanish directly. When licensed, pirates sometimes went by the name “privateers.”

There are many active pirates today. Although we romanticize pirates in the past, there are still many places where piracy is practiced today. The waters around Singapore, Malaysia, and Borneo are the most common place for piracy today, with about 100 instances of piracy a year. The Gulf of Guinea is also a common place for piracy, while pirates still operate off the coast of Somalia, despite increased patrols in the area.

Pirates had terrible teeth. Pirates often lost many of their teeth. Of course, getting shot or stabbed in the mouth would result in the loss of some teeth, but more often teeth were lost to disease. Scurvy is a disease related to a vitamin C deficiency, which was common on board ships. It often resulted in gum problems and lost teeth. And, of course, life on board ship wasn’t conducive to oral hygiene, and the constant consumption of alcohol took their toll on pirate’s teeth via gum disease.

Although we all enjoy talking like a pirate for a day, none of us wants to smile like a pirate. If you are looking for a dentist in Grapevine that can help you protect your teeth, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment at Grapevine Dental Care today.



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