PIRATICAL PATTER

It’s September 19 again, which means that it’s international TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY. If you would like to take part in this facetious, frivolous parody of a spoof, here is invaluable assistance in the form of a Pirate glossary and Pirate translations

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Some of the expressions heard in the Pirate era and still in use are easy to understand – (see my earlier account https://tonythornesite.wordpress.com/?s=Pirate+talk ) – but in other cases they may need to be explained:

Above board = visible on deck

The devil to pay = a difficult seam to be sealed, on the ship’s outer hull

Between the devil and the deep blue sea = hanging dangerously on the lower hull

The bitter end = the end of a cable attached to a ‘bitt’ or post

By and large = sailing into the wind and slightly with the wind

A clean slate = used by the lookout to record progress and wiped clean after each watch

Chock-a-block = when rigging blocks are tightened to the maximum

Cross the line = ceremonial crossing of the Equator

Cut and run = slash off surplus equipment to make a quick escape

Distinguishing mark = identifying flag

Feeling groggy = from grog, or diluted rum

Fend off = stop the boat hitting the dockside or another vessel

Footloose = the unfastened bottom of a sail blowing in the wind

Hand over fist = gripping as a sailor climbing a mast

Hard and fast = completely stuck

In the doldrums = a zone of calm seas in the tropics

Copper-bottomed = strong as a sailing ship with a copper-covered hull

Iron-clad = like a steam warship with metal hull

Leeway = the amount a ship is driven in the direction of the prevailing wind

At Loggerheads = fighting with a heavy iron ball on a stick, used for caulking

Overreaching = holding the same course for too long

Over a barrel = positioned for flogging

Overhaul = pull ropes carefully over the sails

Pooped = swamped by a big wave

Slush fund = money from illicitly selling surplus cooking fat ashore

Take soundings = measure sea depth

Taken aback = with the sails filled dangerously with a reverse wind

Tide over = take on provisions until next sailing

 

On a much more frivolous note…here are some translations of modern terminology into Pirate-talk:

 

PIRATE TRANSLATIONS

 

Selfie = a very likeness, made by my own hand

 

YOLO = every pirate for himself (and devil take the hindmost) – or EPFH (ADTTH)

= risk all for the moment, me hearties

= all aboard – for death or glory!  – or FDOG

 

Hashtag = pennant

= marker buoy

= banner (with a strange device)

= Jolly Roger

= X marks the spot

 

Trending = on the lips of all and sundry

= borne on the trade winds

= carried on the tide

 

Viral = spreading abroad like a pestilence

= pestilential

= contagious as the pox

 

Blog = log

= Captain’s log

= ship’s log

= an account of me dastardly deeds, committed to paper in me  own scrawl

 

Flash mob = confederacy of rogues

= villainous crew

= rampaging ne’er do-wells

 

Timeline = a full account of me wickedness

= dastardly doings (doggedly detailed)

= chart of the voyage

 

Check-in = assemble at the gangplank

= muster on the quayside

= scrawl yer mark on this ‘ere manifest!

 

Status = condition

= estate (eg in fine estate)

= where and what ‘e be

 

Follow Friday (FF) = recommending to all me shipmates

= nautical nudge – or NN

 

Throwback Thursday (TT) = dredgin’ up the past

= evil deeds best forgotten

= memories of me misspent youth  – or MMMY

 

Apps = diabolical devices, tricks and subterfuges

 

Like = stamp with my seal

= bestow my approval

= add my endorsement

= take to my bosom

 

Share = divide up the loot

= give to each his part of the booty

= pass on to me shipmates

 

LOL = Yo Ho Ho  – or YHH

 

Retweet = pass on the scuttlebutt

= re-tell the old yarns

 

Snapchat = vanishing mirage

= fleeting vision of curiosities

= glimpse of fascinations (out of reach)

 

The Cloud = the firmament

= the great archipelago (where all ships vanish)

 

Instagram it = make a picture and convey it (to me)

= seal the likeness in a bottle and send it on the next  tide

 

 

 

And one or two others:

 

Portal = porthole

IPad = IPatch

Platform = plank

= deck

Talk to the hook

Ebay = Botany Bay

Swag = swagger

Windows = portholes

Blocked = scuttled

Twitter = twit-aarrrr!

= the damned squabbling of parakeets

OMG = stap me vitals!

Epic fail = damnable blunder

Email = message in a bottle

 

 

and just by the by…

(A pirate with no arms and legs, thrown overboard: Cap’n Bob

A pirate lying in the doorway: Cap’n Mat

A pirate hiding in a pile of leaves: Cap’n Russell)

 

TONY THORNE

 

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POSH?!

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In November 2002 the Sun newspaper reported that footballer’s wife ‘Posh Spice’ Victoria Beckham had launched a legal bid to stop second division football club Peterborough United from registering its nickname Posh as a trademark. The former Spice Girl claimed the word had become synonymous with her. ‘Sun readers, the paper affirmed, ‘back the club, which has used the name for eighty years.’ This little word epitomises both the English obsession with status distinctions and the jokey tone in which such a contentious subject is often addressed.

Fictional characters in the novel Diary of a Nobody, published in 1892 and the musical Lady Madcap, playing in London in 1904, sported the name Posh, and in a 1918 Punch cartoon a young swell is seen explaining that it is ‘slang for swish’. The first use of the word in the Times newspaper was in a crime report from May 1923, headlined ‘The Taxicab Murder’. ‘A walking stick was left at the scene of the crime, which the murderer left behind after shooting the driver, which belonged to his friend Eddie Vivian. He said…that he went out with Eddie’s stick because he wanted to be ‘posh’.’ In 1935 in the same paper the use of the word, which still appeared between quotation marks, was excused as ‘inevitably the idiom of the younger generation creeps in’.

The popular derivation, from the initial letters of ‘Port Out, Starboard Home’ allegedly affixed to the cabin doors of first-class passengers on P&O Orient Line steamships, is certainly false, as demonstrated by, among others, word-buff Michael Quinion in his 2005 book which took the phrase as its title. Posh seems to have been used in low-life slang for some time before it was first recorded in a dictionary of 1889 with the principal meaning ‘money’ and the subsidiary sense of ‘dandy’. It may be the same word, in the form ‘push’, meaning ‘swanky, showy’, that featured in Edwardian upper-class student slang (‘quite the most push thing at Cambridge’ was P.G Wodehouse’s description of a fancy waistcoat, from 1903). The ultimate origin, then, is obscure: in the Romany language which was a rich source of pre-20th century argot, posh could mean ‘half’, often referring to half a shilling/crown/sovereign, etc. so may have come to denote money in general, then the trappings of wealth.

In 1966 Michael Aspel was carpeted by the BBC for selling records of elocution lessons featuring his voice and that of  Jean Metcalfe (whose obituary in 2000 noted her ‘deep, cultivated voice’, the ads for which implied, the corporation said, that broadcasting required a posh voice. Like class-consciousness itself, and like the assertively upper-class accents it often described, the word posh seemed to fall out of fashion after the end of the 1960s,  only to reassert itself at the new millennium. At the end of the ‘noughties’, it took on a renewed importance with David Cameron’s accession to the leadership of the Tory party and fellow Old Etonian Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s election as London mayor. As a literal synonym of privileged/wealthy/upmarket it is usefully inoffensive. Very frequently, however, it is used ironically, as in references to ‘posh nosh’ (typically very expensive sausages), and what online gossip site Popbitch dubs the ‘too-posh-to-push brigade’ – pampered mothers who opt for caesareans at private hospitals rather than natural births.

Reviewing Joanna Lumley mocking her own accent in a 2005 TV commercial, the Independent on Sunday commented, ‘In the 1960s, After Eights, Harvey’s Sherry and Cockburn’s Port were sold to Mrs Bucket’s everywhere on class – the idea that posh people bought them…if you want to do posh now it has to be spoofy and retro.’

In pop culture contexts posh has proved to be handy as an antonym of chav, especially in the numerous test-yourself quizzes in tabloids and online claiming to assess the underclass/toff-factor. From around 2000, ‘posho’ in UK campus slang has denoted a fellow-student perceived as from a wealthy or privileged background, while the litigious Victoria Beckham should note that in the same circles ‘Posh ‘n Becks’ is rhyming slang for sex.

Where accents are concerned the tide has seemed to flow in only one direction: in 2013 another broadcaster, the Radio 4 announcer Charlotte Green, accepted voluntary redundancy, declaring ‘received pronunciation, or accent-less accent [sic], is on the wane. The BBC’s days of employing people who sound like me are more or less over.’ She had once been voted the most attractive female voice on radio, that voice described as ‘a marvel, something to make one feel safe and secure, like being tucked up in bed with a hot water bottle.’ These days Cameron and Johnson play down their patrician tones to some extent, but fellow OE Jacob Rees Mogg incorporates a mannered, punctilious accent into his repertoire of self-presentation, adding to what the Sun terms ‘his ultra-posh exterior’ (the p-word is routinely applied to him by all sections of the media) and signalling to some the resurgence of a fogeyism that is either picturesque or (‘Please-Flog’ was one of the least offensive nicknames suggested in a Twitter poll) unsettlingly sinister.

 

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