My own personal exposure to pirates is limited to my role in my high school’s production of “The Pirates of Penzance,” in which I played the pirates’ nemesis, Major-General Stanley. But even though I knew it was only a play, I couldn’t help but feel an affinity to all the real-life 19th century major-generals whom pirates tried to murder while singing snappy Gilbert and Sullivan librettos. (In their defense, if I had to listen to all those verses of “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” I would have wanted to kill me too.)
I bring all this up because this is a busy time of year for fake pirates. First, Sept. 19 is “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” the day on which we’re encouraged to walk around saying “ye” instead of “you” and creating contractions that would make William Safire blush (or, say, “turn red’r th’n a buck’t o’ chum”).