Shiver Me Timbers

Why isn’t it offensive to mimic a pirate accent? What even is the pirate accent? Did all pirates speak like that? Do pirates speak like that? Did they have the same accent but in different languages around the world? What was the origin of the pirate accent?

And just like every question I’ve asked in the past, it has already been answered.

Pirates didn’t speak the way we hear or read about in books or movies – they’re all a product of Hollywood. Mostly thanks to Disney’s first completely live-action film – Treasure Island (1950) starring Robert Newton. On another note, it’s amusing that Disney is still making movies glorifying pirates despite their strong stance against piracy.

According to reports, Newton decided to use an exaggerated version of his West Country accent for his character in the film, setting the stereotype for how pirates spoke back then. So you have him to thank for our perception of pirates.

West Country English is what people from the southwest of England spoke – not just pirates. Which makes sense since pirates came from all over the world, not only from England. It would be impossible for all of them to have the same accents (unless it was a rule they had to follow).

Do pirates today get offended by how they are portrayed in the media? Pirates are supposed to be tough nuts who don’t give a fuck about what people say, right? I did a quick search on modern pirates and it turns out that Four Year Strong resemble pirates more than they will ever be.

Somali pirates, photographed in 2012
When you’re holding guns, there’s no need to look fearsome.

Conclusion? What we know about pirates is the result of many years of Hollywood stereotyping. Like nerdy Asian kids, autistic savants, and Mexican drug dealers. No complaints here, I’m just looking forward to a pirates film with a sprinkle of Cthulhu magic, leviathans, and an easycore rendition of Bella Ciao. Come on, Álex Pina, you can do it!

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