Swashbuckler 1700

swearing among pirates alike

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So what descriptions there is sailors, pirates or common men's bad language? There is some pre hanging swearing but what about other...

Also would officers or other punish for it? I know that (I live Finland BtW) in 17th century Finland (was then part of Sweden) cursing was punished by small penalty (probaply since government needed to get money) but about other countries or aboard ship? I believe that no one would bother.....

Oh and those execution curses would be fine too...

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Just read the General History and you'll find all sorts of examples. (Except most of them look like "G---- D------!" With a bit of imagination you can piece it together though. (For example, in this case, the missing words would read "Goofy Dog!") )

We had a really neat list of period insults to use during Searles Raid of St. Augustine in 2010. You can find links to pdf's of them in my Surgeon's Journal of the even on this page. (The links to them are a few paragraphs in on that page.)

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Seamen were noted for their profanity - William Snelgrave wrote, for example, "the execrable Oaths and Blasphemies I heard among the [pirate] Ship’s Company, shock’d me to such a degree, that in Hell it self I thought there could not be worse; for tho’ many Seafaring Men are given to swearing and taking God’s Name in vain, yet I could not have imagined, human Nature could ever so far degenerate, as to talk in the manner those abandoned Wretches did."

It would be wrong, however, to assume that it was not restricted or punished. Some Elizabethan privateering articles included the clause: "Whosoever do talk any beastly or filthy talk at his meat, he shall have a cobkin [beating] of his mess… whosoever do swear or blaspheme the name of God at cards, dice, or at his meat, shall pay a penny for every oath to the poor man’s box". And Woodes Rogers had "ferrules" made to "punish Swearing, by which we found the Men much cured of that Vice".

In Henry Teonge's diary he mentions two incidents of people swearing. In the first, the potty-mouthed louts had iron marline spikes tied in their mouths until they were bloody. In the second (on a different ship) a seaman was tied in the rigging for "an hour, and had speculum oris [over to you Mission] placed in his mouth for saying to a seaman in the Captain’s hearing: 'Thou liest, like a son of a whore.'".

Tracking down what pirates actually said when they swore is difficult because observers often preferred to no repeat it verbatim, but in surviving records there are plenty of "Damn you" and "God damns", and a couple of insults such as "son of a bitch".

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We had a really neat list of period insults to use during Searles Raid of St. Augustine in 2010. You can find links to pdf's of them in my Surgeon's Journal of the even on this page. (The links to them are a few paragraphs in on that page.)

I transcribed it here. I think I have them all correct.

GREETINGS AND TITLES:

Good Morrow, Master or Mistress

God gi' god-den, goodman (good evening)

Fare you well, Parson Rishard.

Give your worship good morrow.

God be wi' you, good wife (woman).

How now (where are you going).

An't please your worship.

Are you well, master?

I see you have been fortunate since last we met.

Prithee (I pray you)

(name) you be early abroad.

I pray you

It fortuned me to meet

Dawlin (Darling)

Good day to 'ee, Master.

Sharpish in't it.

Fellow (equal or companion)

To morn

Mawther (girl)

Bor (neighbor)

Goody (wife or nurse)

In the even' (evening)

OATHS FOR LADIES:

Faith (indeed)

Marry (to be sure)

Marry gypeey

Gemini

Lud

Lord

La

OATHS FOR MEN:

Bastard

Bugger

Claybrained

Clodpoll

Confound you or it

Cuds

Dandypratt

Egad - 1670s, I gad, a softened oath, second element God, first uncertain; perhaps it represents exclamation ah.

Faith (indeed)

Gadzooks - See zooks

God Almighty

Fegs

'Ot rot me

Hell and the devil confound

You

Yirads

Gad's my life

Lord

B'Gad

Damn

I'faith

Lud

'Odso

'Odslife

Faggins

Zoodlikes

Yah! (cr of defiance)

Rip me

Burn my vitals

Hellsteeth

Beggar me

Rot my vitals

The devil

Devil taw it

Mother of God

God's death

By God's dines

Gar - God e.g. Begar! by Gar!

By the masking

'Slight (God's light)

Snoggers

'Sdeath

'Sbud

'Sprecious (God's precious)

Stap me vitals

'Steeth

'Slife (God's Life)

Stap me

'Sbody (God's Body)

'Stooth

'Sooth

'Sblood (God's Blood)

'Wounds

Zlife

Zleds

Zounds - c.1600, oath of surprise or anger, altered from (by) God's wounds!

Zoons

Zooks - as in gadzooks'. 1690s, from some exclamation, possibly God's hooks (nails of the cross) or even God's hocks. Cf. godsookers (1670s). The use of Gad for God (cf. egad) is first attested 1590s. Among other similar phraseological combinations (all from 17c.) were gadsbobs, gadslid, and gadsniggers; in all of which the second elements are sometimes said to be mere fanciful syllables.

ORDERS, COMMANDS, EXHORTATIONS:

Cheerly, good hearts

Bestir

Fall to't yarely

Come hither, sirrah!

Have a care (be prepared)

Forsooth

I'll be sworn

By my troth

In the second (on a different ship) a seaman was tied in the rigging for "an hour, and had speculum oris [over to you Mission] placed in his mouth for saying to a seaman in the Captain’s hearing: 'Thou liest, like a son of a whore.'".

I say 'son of a whore' all the time. I'll have to watch myself at events.

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I say 'son of a whore' all the time. I'll have to watch myself at events.

Yeah, but you're a pirate Quartermaster. From what I've been reading, they 'vapoured' and swore rather freely and without much consequence.

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Extra credit for timely use of the word 'vapoured'. ;)

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I love the word 'vapoured.' I came across it in the Roberts account and have been using it freely ever since.

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Have license to vapour, will vapour.

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I hind it really interesting that hello was not older than 19th century.... but interesting swearing stuff. I wonder that there is not "bloody **** or other stuff like that but is good to remenber that all words are not written down....

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BTW this is oftopic but how old is the "aye"? It seems to be midle english but do you have other info?

Oh I found this http://answers.yahoo...14154216AAt3FBu so it is atleast from 16th century....

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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aye (1) "assent," 1570s, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of I, meaning "I assent;" or an alteration of M.E. yai "yes" (see yea), or from aye (2) "always, ever."

bloody (adj.) O.E. blodig, adjective from blod (see blood). Common Germanic, cf. O.Fris. blodich, O.S. blôdag, Du. bloedig, O.H.G. bluotag, Ger. blutig. It has been a British intens. swear word since at least 1676. Weekley relates it to the purely intensive use of the cognate Du. bloed, Ger. Blut. But perhaps it ultimately is connected with bloods in the slang sense of "rowdy young aristocrats" (see blood (n.)) via expressions such as bloody drunk "as drunk as a blood." Partridge reports that it was "respectable" before c.1750, and it was used by Fielding and Swift, but heavily tabooed c.1750-c.1920, perhaps from imagined association with menstruation; Johnson calls it "very vulgar," and OED writes of it, "now constantly in the mouths of the lowest classes, but by respectable people considered 'a horrid word', on par with obscene or profane language."

The onset of the taboo against bloody coincides with the increase in linguistic prudery that presaged the Victorian Era but it is hard to say what the precise cause was in the case of this specific word. Attempts have been made to explain the term’s extraordinary shock power by invoking etymology. Theories that derive it from such oaths as “By our Lady” or “God’s blood” seem farfetched, however. More likely, the taboo stemmed from the fear that many people have of blood and, in the minds of some, from an association with menstrual bleeding. Whatever, the term was debarred from polite society during the whole of the nineteenth century. [Rawson]

Shaw shocked theatergoers when he put it in the mouth of Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion" (1914), and for a time the word was known euphemistically as "the Shavian adjective." It was avoided in print as late as 1936. Bloody Sunday, Jan. 30, 1972, when 13 civilians were killed by British troops at protest in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

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I hind it really interesting that hello was not older than 19th century

There is a myth that "hello" was not used until the invention of the telephone, but in fact that's not the case. "Hello" goes back at least to the early 19th century, and variant forms of the words go back much further than that: "illo" is used as a greeting by Shakespeare in Hamlet (1603), and "Hollo" is in Titus Andronicus (1594). "Hilla" dates to the first half of the 15th century.

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And of course, "hella" originated from the streets of San Francisco in the Hunters Point neighborhood in the 20th century. It is commonly used in place of "really" or "very" when describing something. (What?)

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this is a GREAT thread! more...more...

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"vapoured" I like it. I must start using it in normal conversation.

Then I watch for the confused looks.... :P

One of late I've been inclined to use is "debased". I like that one.... " Vapoured and debased people they are, those pirates."

oooh sounds so..... period..... :P

Edited by Jack Roberts

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I scolded Tracy for vapouring around the children. She laughed. Vapouring is her new favorite word.

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I've started a trend. -_- (Actually, Charles Johnson and his wooden-legged pirate have started a trend.)

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And I, this morning, have found an example of proper pirate swearing.

In 1720 Bart Roberts wrote to the Governor of the Leeward Islands about a man imprisoned there. The original letter has been lost, but a contemporary copy exists in which Roberts entreats the Governor to treat the prisoner "as a man and not as a C...". Whatever letters followed the C were expurgated by the copyist, but I think we can all guess what they were.

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And I, this morning, have found an example of proper pirate swearing.

In 1720 Bart Roberts wrote to the Governor of the Leeward Islands about a man imprisoned there. The original letter has been lost, but a contemporary copy exists in which Roberts entreats the Governor to treat the prisoner "as a man and not as a C...". Whatever letters followed the C were expurgated by the copyist, but I think we can all guess what they were.

(feeling myself stupid) What it can mean there is many words with "c" at the beginning :huh: ? (feeling myself stupid)

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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...CONVICT? It fits the situation, no? Can we assume the prisoner has not yet had his day in court? I have the VERY bad habit of looking on the brighter side.... :D

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(feeling myself stupid) What it can mean there is many words with "c" at the beginning :huh: ? (feeling myself stupid)

Don't feel bad, I don't know what the hell he's on about either. I'm sure it will seem very obvious to us after he gives more insight.

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Forum rules prevent me from posting the answer (that and my English sense of decorum).

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How about like c_ _ t. (Which is the only swear word I can think of that starts with a c. Somehow that sounds like a later era swear word, though. Plus it doesn't make sense in this context.)

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Really? "Don't treat me like a C..." is an oft-heard phrase on this side of the pond (often from people I'm gently correcting).

And it's most certainly a period word... at least 13th century. From old Norse.

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No kiddin'? Shock me blue.

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