USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Pirates’
general
Humor

A Pirate’s Favorite Letter

Context: The informant told this joke in passing, and I asked to hear it again because of the play on words.

Piece:

Informant: “What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?”

Collector: “I don’t know… what is it? Is it R?”

Informant: “Arr you’d think so but me first love be the C”

Background: The informant, a 20 year old college student at Harvard, says is one of his favorite jokes and he tells it often to entertain his friends. He says that he found this joke on Reddit.

Analysis: In order to understand this joke, you have to have the preconceived notion that pirates a stereotypically shown to say “arr.” Therefore, this joke shows how as a society there is a unified understanding of the pirate stereotype and that there can be these jokes on it. This joke catches on because of its spin on the more obvious stereotypical saying by pirates. It demonstrates also how phonetic similarity can function as a joke when recited with another meaning/spelling.

 

 

 

Adulthood
Childhood
general
Initiations
Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pirate’s Cave

Here my informant recounts a tradition among the local youth he knew in Point Loma to visit a place they called the “Pirate Cave” he describes the historical basis for the tradition, and the reasons people are still drawn there.

“Alright, well I grew up in Point Loma San Diego, and there’s this thing called sunset cliffs, and it’s a bunch of like 40 or 60 foot cliffs, big and really pretty, and, um, in the 1920’s during prohibition, it was like a major smuggling destination for alcohol, and there’s a really cool cave that’s connected to where boats could land at the cliffs, and has like access at low tide only, and then it goes up to the top of the cliff like through and under and um its really cool cause like you can go in and explore and um people have like found bones in there, and there’s like notches in the wall where they used to put candles to light the passage ways, and what’s really sketchy is like, its been known about for a while by locals, and they [the smugglers] tried to catch them, so they have like pitfalls in the path like inside the cliffs  like, that were traps for police forces which were set up, um, yeah, pretty awesome. We just call it pirate’s cave because of people who pirated the alcohol brought it in that way and, now they stopped using it. And there’s like carved steps, yeah it’s really cool.”

The informant enumerates undeniable draws to explore this former bootlegging hideout. From rotting bones to booby traps, many of these rumors are so adventurous  they seem likely to be fabricated. However, regardless of their accuracy, there must be some foundation for rumors, and my informants’ description of “Pirate Cave” shows how tradition can develop from a desire for adventure.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Proverbs

Pirate Bay

The informant for this piece of folklore was my friend’s grandfather.  As a boy, he would tell me stories and I would listen intently as they were like adventures I could later relive as I played with my friends in the backyard.  One story I remember in particular was how a North Carolina beach came to be called Nag’s Head.  My friend’s grandfather would go into great detail about how pirates would tie a lantern to a horse’s neck and walk it up and down the beach.  Boats and ships out at sea would think there was a harbor there because of the light.  Ships would then try to dock, only to find that it was a trick and the pirates would rob them clean.

When I asked my informant about the story, he said that the town was named Nag’s Head because “Nag” was a name for a horse.  It could also be that wild horses still roam the beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina so they were probably there when the town was founded as well.  My informant also said that the term “Nag” could have to do with how the pirates tricked the people at sea to come to them and then they snagged their goods and gold.  As I child, I appreciated the fun story and enjoyed hearing it over and over again.  As an adult, I’m intrigued in the piece of local history and folklore.

[geolocation]