Ahoy, ye scallawags! Sprinkles the Pirate Princess (aka Miss Elizabeth) threatened to make me walk the plank if I didn’t dig up some linguistic booty to share with our mateys for International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Since I’d rather not be scuppered down to Davy Jones’s Locker, I’ve pillaged and plundered the World Wide Web in search of the perfect pirate lingo to share with you. This week’s Worrrrrrdy Wednesday is sure to rattle yer bones and run yer rig, so find yer sea legs and batten down the hatches for some grog-swilling language fun!
If you’re wondering exactly how these piratical pictures and sea-faring language could come in handy in your speech and language activities, we’ve got a few ideas to get you started.
- Practice receptive language with a piratey twist! First, help your little lad or lass turn an empty paper towel tube into a spyglass. Place a piece of cellophane or cling-wrap over one end, holding it in place with a rubber band. Decorate to your heart’s content. Then, place a few images on the table and ask your child to look through the spyglass to find specific items as you say the name out loud.
- With a pre-reader, you can use this week’s worrrrrds to work on phonemic awareness. Ask the child to identify items based on their starting sounds. Which one starts with letter B? (Remind the child what sound B makes if necessary). Make it even more fun by hiding the pictures around the house or office and sending your young swashbuckler off on a letter-sound treasure hunt!
- If your buccaneer is beginning to read, have him or her read aloud these unfamiliar pirate words. Unfamiliar words are a good way to have novice readers practice using what they know about letter sounds to figure out how to pronounce a word.
- Pirate words are great for articulation practice! Those rapscallions LOVE the /r/ sound, which is frequently tough for young children. What’s more fun than a contest to see who can do the best pirate ARRRRRGH!? Oftentimes, pirate words feature those tricky consonant clusters (i.e. swashbuckling, grog, hornswaggle, Blackbeard). These words are so much fun to say that young speech sprogs* might just keep their mutiny in check!
- Pirate-speak is mostly a collection of synonyms for words your child probably already knows. Very young children usually have just a single word to describe an item or idea, but as their language becomes more sophisticated, with increasing vocabulary and grammatical complexity, they begin to encounter the notion of synonymy, where a single concept or object can be identified by multiple words. Elicit expressive language by asking the child to tell you another word for each picture (i.e. lad = boy; cutlass = sword or knife).
If yer little bilge rats be beggin’ ye fer more pirate-speak or activities to plunder, I suggest ye weigh the anchor and sail on over to The Pirate Glossary or The Pirate Ship. And if you haven’t had your fill of piracy yet, Cap’n Billy “The Butcher” MacDougall’s Guide to Pirate Parenting offers such pearls of wisdom as “The family that plunders together, stays together!” and provides a step-by-step tutorial on converting the family minivan into a pirate schooner.
Wherever the wind may blow ye, we wish ye billowing sails and a Wednesday filled with worrrrrrds! ~ Melanie and Elizabeth
*untrained pirate recruits