In pirate speak, do you say

be ye warned


ye be warned


  • 6
    It depends on what you mean: the first is an imperative, "Be warned!" (and would probably be elided to Be 'ee warrrned!), the second an assertion, "You've been warned!" Sep 19 '18 at 15:04
  • 2
    I don't believe that there is an authoritative guide to the pirating dialect.
    – Davo
    Sep 19 '18 at 15:06
  • And who says all pirates speak the same language, or dialect? There are pirates on all seven seas. Sep 19 '18 at 15:22
  • To be explicit about what davo said, 'Pirate' is not an actual dialect. So there is no way to decide what is the right way to say something. Sep 19 '18 at 16:41
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about the English language. Sep 19 '18 at 16:44

Ahoy me hearty! Shiver me timbers!

According to pirate.monkeyness.com it's

ye be warned

speakpirate.com confirms this and says

Yarr! ye be warned

It means "you are warned"

I guess you asked the question because you might be celebrating ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day’ today

This celebration was started in June 1995 (more than twenty years ago!) A innovative Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy (formally known as John Baur and Mark Summers) sat down and decided to start the holiday as a fun way to dress up as pirates and talk like them too! Though started in June, Talk Like a Pirate Day is held on Wednesday 19th September due to D-Day existing on 6th June.

This day offers an opportunity to not only mess around but to give something back. People can dress up as pirates and raise money for charities, what’s better than that!?

Further reading about this parodic holiday on Wikipedia

During a racquetball game between Summers and Baur, one of them reacted to the pain with an outburst of "Aaarrr!", and the idea was born. That game took place on June 6, 1995, but out of respect for the observance of the Normandy landings, they chose Summers' ex-wife's birthday, as it would be easy for him to remember

Early Modern English would use the form "be ye warned", deduced from the usage in

The King James Version of the Bible, begun in 1604 and completed in 1611, quotes in James 2:16

“And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

An academic paper on Pirate English in The Age of Sail: Sociolinguistic Analysis of Pirate English and its Importance Within Multicultural Space of 17th an 18th Centuries Caribbean

explores the significance of Pirate English of the 17th/18th century and its importance for creating linguistic space for British sailors, maroons and escaped slaves. Accordingly, such shared linguistic platform built mainly on nautical lingo en-hanced itself by adopting elements of various languages and creoles, though it incorporated them into the corpus of Pirate English in a practical way and therefore Pirate English worked exceptionally well for fulfilling challenging and complex tasks performed by the multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural crew on ships. What is more, the shared space was gradually transformed into “cognitive environment”, described by Sperber and Wilson, where both fields of "communicative" and "informative" intentions were stimulated by mutual under-standing, while pirates spend their free time engaging in whole range of activities from small talk, singing and telling stories

Martin Mares, the author based his research

mostly on the analysis of primary sources such as captain's logs, trial records, pamphlets, books and reports (for further information, see bibliog-raphy). Also, specific elements and patterns of Pirate English are analysed and discussed with relevant academic concepts such as communication, cognition, semiotic landscape and civili-sation. Equally important, various contemporary sources dealing with topics such as reflection on an identity/language, Creole, pidgin and ethnicity are being used to provide a theoretical underpinning for socio-historical analysis.

The linguist Molly Babel in a slate.com article entitled Why Do Pirates Talk Like That? posits

that our current associations of pirate speech came about largely through film, and that one of the primary influences was the native West Country dialect of Robert Newton, who played the main characters in several early pirate movies: Treasure Island in 1950, Blackbeard the Pirate in 1952, and Long John Silver in 1954. Here's a selection of some of Newton's finest piratical moments: You can already hear some of the phrases that would become standard pirate fare, such as "flay your shriveled tongue" and "scurvy dog."

Speakers of the West Countryregional dialect tend to emphasize their r's, unlike other British regions, said Babel. They tend to replace the verbs 'is' and 'are' with 'be,' and indeed, use the word 'arrr' in place of 'yes.' "If you go to really rural places you'd probably still find people say, 'I'm sitting in me chair,' " Babel said, cautioning that despite the continued usage of these terms, locals probably wouldn't sound all that much like pirates anymore.

Seven years ago, today, rberaldo posed the question True languages that pirates spoke on linguistics.stackexchange. There are a variety of thought-provoking answers.


I will add a quick thought... the island from which I hail (Guernsey) was for a long time associated with ahherm... privateering... or officially sanctioned piracy if you will.

We preyed on the French, the Spanish, and the English by turns, and a fair few others in between. As with the folks in Cornwall who... misidrected... unwary ships to run aground on the Scilly, some of our... sailors... were able to... misdirect opponents ships onto the Minkies, ripping the bottoms out of their ships very effectively, often with the firing of any shot at all.

Although the primary language of the island was then an old dialect of French called Guernésiais (sometimes spelled Dguernésiais) our folks also spoke a rough, accented and heavily inflected English, which often used word orders more commonly used in French - so for example, a repetition of the subject of the sentence for emphasis:

"Where am I to, me, eh?"
"Ah, you're to the Bailiff's Cross, you!"
"Caw chapin, I didn't know I walked so bloney far me!"
"Ah but yes, if you've come all the way from Torteval là, you must feel like you been walking for yers an yers you, eh? Why don't you sit down hyer an' have some gâche you!"
"I will that, eh? By the time I was to St. Andrews, I was that knackered, I thought I was to St. Martin's me!

And as you can see in my little dialogue, we used to say "eh?" at the end of sentences as an intensifier, and the response "ah but yes" was very common... and in fact though this Guernsey English dialect has been dying out since the Second World War, it's still heard on the island... and I have long wondered if the oft ballyhooed "piratical" "Arrrr" might not in fact be the proper old Guernsey "Ahh", given our island's historical association with piracy... an' my guess me?

Ahh but yes, eh? Stands to reason, don't it?

  • @BladeWraith - thinking of you mate. Sep 26 '18 at 17:45

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