You probably haven't heard of International Talk Like Robert Newton Day. You may have heard of it under its' actual name, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
The Origins of International Talk Like A Pirate Day
Why September 19th?
First a date was needed that wasn't already taken up by something. June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day, and everything else they could immediately think of was occupied by something else important. Finally September 19th was settled on, the birthday of Summers' ex-wife.
Since then, the holiday has snowballed, becoming "International" when Baur and Summers were interviewed by a Sydney, Australia radio station. Dave Barry apparently originally thought that it might be big, possibly at least 20 minutes. It has since been far more successful than anyone would have realistically thought. The world wide web has undoubtedly helped there. International Talk Like A Pirate Day is also an official holiday for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
How Do You Talk Like A Pirate?
In order to talk like a pirate, you are supposed to use pirate lingo when talking to others. This includes using terms such as "Ahoy" for "Hello" as well as the old standby and favourite of "Arrr!" There are a number of actual nautical terms that can be used in speech also.
There is a full explanation of How to Talk Like a Pirate (in several languages) on The Original Talk Like a Pirate Day Site, as well as links to other online pirate-speak resources.
So Who Is Robert Newton?
And What Connection Does He Have To Pirates?
Newton's most famous performance was that of the pirate Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, Treasure Island. He reprised the role in the 1954 sequel, Long John Silver and in a television series called The Adventures of Long John Silver. He also played the role of the English pirate and privateer Edward "Blackbeard" Teach in the film Blackbeard, the Pirate.
The distinctive "pirate" accent Newton created was an exaggeration of the West Country accent of his birth. Blackbeard, for example, was likely born in Bristol, also considered to be in the West Country, so adding a West Country accent wasn't too great a stretch. Although Newton was not the first to use the typical pirate "Arrr!", that being done by Lionel Barrymore (the great-uncle of Drew) in the 1934 film adaptation of Treasure Island, it was Newton who made it so popular and widely known.
Many British ports were located in the West Country, where the rolling "rrr" in "Arrr!" is not uncommon in the local dialects, so there may even be some accuracy in having pirates rolling their r's.
Although others before and since have contributed to the current perception of pirates, it is Robert Newton's Long John Silver that created the biggest impression. Robert Newton is now considered to be the patron saint of International Talk Like A Pirate Day.