Monday, September 18, 2006
Ahoy! It's just a few hours until International Talk Like A Pirate Day! I look forward to telling pirate jokes all day and telling the students to walk the plank. All week I've been getting the same questions: "Should we wear eyepatches? Are you going to wear a pirate hat?", and since this is answered in the Pirate FAQ, I get to answer in my snippiest voice "It's not Dress Like A Pirate Day, it's Talk Like A Pirate Day." One student asked "Do we get to drink beer?" Other students corrected him to rum. I said "It's not Drink Like A Pirate Day..."
I also told them they had to bring money to purchase the lab manual. I said "It's going to be Talk Like A Pirate Day as well as Buy A Lab Manual Like A Pirate Day." They said "Wouldn't pirates just steal it?", and I retracted my statement.
We'll never know for sure whether pirates really said "ARRRRR", but as the Wikipedia entry on International Talk Like A Pirate Day tells us, this was implanted firmly in the culture by actor Robert Newton, who played Long John Silver in the 1950 film version of Treasure Island. Mark Liberman has researched this and determined that this interjection comes from western England, from which pirates may well have hailed.
One of my classes has a test tomorrow, so they won't get to join in the fun. Or won't they? I edited the test so that every question is either about pirates ("A pirate ship is moving east at 20 m/s") or in pirate speak ("Find the accelarrrrrrrrration"). Also, one of the extra credit questions is "You are already familiar with Isaac Newton's three laws of motion. What would Robert Newton's laws of motion be? Be creative."
If my students are reading this, congratulations, you have a leg up on the rest of the class now.
Pirates are still around today! Especially in Indonesia. On the one hand, this is really bad. Pirates (by definition) engage in violent crimes. On the other hand, it could end global warming.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention, last week one of my students said "Does that mean we get to curse?" I have avoided answering the question. Today, "Yes!!! We get to curse!!!!!!"