Friday, September 18th, 2009

Arr! How LibraryThing went pirate

Talk Like A Pirate Day is over for us now. You can visit the translation at

Chris and I decided to take pirate photos for our author pages. He’s pretty convincing, apart from the inflatable parrot.*

At 5 pm on Friday we jumped the gun on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, sending the whole site into Pirate-talk. (We’ll turn back off tomorrow evening, but click “Turn OFF pirate-speak” to turn it off sooner.)

“LibraryThing in Pirate” was a secret project of the Arr, me hearties! group. Members came up with all the translations. Some of my favorites are the little ones, like “enlarge” translated as “use yer spyglass”, the month January being translated as “January (me britches be cold)” and “Terms of Use” changed to “Rules o’ engagement.” Some like “Finger to the Wind” (for Zeitgeist) take some thought, but it would take a genius to discern that “Wi’ naw halp fram ‘ny matey”—is that Glaswegian?—means “Automatic.”

Arr, me hearties! was composed of volunteers from the Beta Group who spent the last week going string by string through LibraryThing’s interface, using the same code we use for our non-English sites. We ended up translating some 2,400 bits and pieces, about 44.2% of the site, making it only the 19th most-translated language, just above Albanian. (That sheds some light on how much effort has gone into the near-complete Portuguese, Dutch, French, Catalan and other translations!)

Top translators included readafew, rastaphrog, lorax, Carnophile, sqdancer, <a href=””>conceptDawg and me.

For posterity’s sake, I took some screenshots:

*All LibraryThing employees were originally going to take photos of ourselves eating cake, in honor of LibraryThing’s fourth anniversary. (We’re in eight different cities, so we can’t just all eat cake together.) Anyway, Sonya had to miss the meeting where we cancelled this plan, and we forgot to tell her, so she dutifully sent her cake photo. Well, I hope she enjoyed the cake!

Labels: arr, chris, members, Sonya, talk like a pirate day


  1. shelf-employed says:

    Arr! I be lovin' it, mateys!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Arrr, the site is great
    Mary Crickett the Bloody

  3. Elaine says:

    I have an upside-down Christmas tree in my office (don't ask) and it's decorated monthly. This month it has pirate flags, and laminated pirate sayings (and 3 skeletons dressed as pirates). Arrr.

  4. 03swalker says:

    [Ok, enough pirateing for the moment]
    Will this be a standard language you can choose now?
    Please say yes =]

    [Ok, I feel like a traitor now, *Goes to walk the plank*]

  5. Felius says:

    Yes, this is now a standard language option! will give you the pirate translation.

  6. Terri says:

    Chris is one o' the best pirates I've seen in years! A natural.

  7. The Dread Pirate Rachael says:

    Arrrr! This be awesome! Excellent work, mateys!

  8. laurenbethy says:

    AHOY! I be LOVING the pirate-speak! wish it was here forever! shiver me timbers arrr!!!!!!

  9. Kat says:

    pirate speak be awesome. make it last forever!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I'm honestly just glad you guys gave me a chance to turn it off. I hate surprises.

  11. Anneli says:

    "Finger to the Wind" sounds better than Zeitgeist.

  12. Acai Berry Detox says:

    such a nice post.

  13. Penny says:

    I love the pirate-speak!!!

  14. theoreme says:

    what a wonderful surprise, guys!

  15. Amy says:

    Oh my God! I was so surprised today when I logged on to LT! Surprises make me feel a little uncomfortable. So, it took me a moment to register it all. After that me and my sister had quite a laugh about it. Great job guys!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Me thinks she be most admirable, mateys.
    –The Dread Pirate George

  17. Michał Paluchowski says:

    Arr! Ye bloody sons of sea storm! Genius loot ya brought us!

  18. Benjamin Judge says:

    Arr. Truly this is why you out sail lug-tome.

  19. Jaymee says:

    Oh my gosh, this is so cute! Another proof of how much you guys love–and give–to Library Thing. You guys rock! 🙂

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is ace. I'll be keeping it piratey, methinks!

  21. masstransit says:

    That's the dumbest damn thing I ever saw!

  22. SqueakyChu says:

    Chris makes a most convincing pirate. His photos usually are of one very neat, preppy guy. Quite a change with this new grunge factor. Both pics are hilarious! Happy Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day!

  23. riverwillow says:

    Hilarious. Now where's the rum?

  24. DarrrBubbles says:

    This be th' most totally arrresome thing I ever did see on any o' th' seven seas o' th' world wide waves.

  25. larkweed says:

    And I for one think it's a load of childish self-indulgent waste of time!!!

  26. Silverheron says:

    Ye Mateys have gifted us all with some mighty fine mental loot. Thank Ye for the fun and adventure! I'll be sailing this ship for awhile.

  27. molly says:

    When I woke up this morning I rolled over and logged onto Librarything (yes, before even leaving bed)…for a minute I thought I forgot how to read. Quite a pleasant surprise!!!

  28. Cstanley1976 says:

    Arr Capt'n. This be the bloody best thing since raid'n the port of Orleans. Drink up me hearty's yo ho!

  29. Tina says:

    ARRRR It's fantastic…but how can I learn a new language if you only leave it up for a day! Please let it be an option for awhile…it's so fun…and I posted about it on my blog as an enticement to get more people to look at LT

    Great job

  30. Debbie says:

    How fun, great idea even if it's only for a day.

  31. battlinjack says:

    Thanks a ton for the laughs! This is too much fun and I want it to stay this way, at least for a while.
    I needed the laughs too since I just cut the end of my thumb and fingernail off this morning.
    I suppose it's my way of getting into the pirate mode! -grin-

  32. Elizabeth Thomsen says:

    Here's what I posted about this with a screenshot on Facebook and Flickr:

    "I love the fact that LibraryThing is observing International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I love even more how easy easy they made it to turn this off! A good example of being cool but considerate."

  33. Jaydit says:


    i loved it…except for the fact that my LT site ran really slow when i was in "Pirate Speak"..once i knocked out of that…everything ran smooth (oh, i am on DialUp)…but i Lurve the keeps me on top of me MainSail

  34. byroncaloz says:

    Neat to see the piratespeak until I tried to add a book. It adds a book but sits there forever before it updates. Switch to regular mode and everything is fine.

  35. Skinnee Jay says:

    You guys are amazing. Can you please keep the pirate-speak as an option? I love it. It's so damn funny.

  36. Laura says:

    This has made me unbelievably excited! I think I'm going to call my mom. Way to go guys!

  37. Luvvie says:

    Absolutely loved it…laughed and laughed and laughed…you guys are so clever and as others have said so thoughtful too by providing the off button when our brains fried a bit…well worth all the effort…thanks for spreading the love!!!

  38. Kim says:

    Loved the pirate speak! Very clever. Lots of hard work. A nice surprise. Wonder what will be next?!!!

  39. fullyarmedvishnu says:

    Amazing! Some of the translated terms make more sense in Pirate.

  40. Bob says:

    "arr" not "arrgh"????

  41. MyopicBookworm says:

    Shiver me timbers, lads, that were a grand notion! If I hadn't already spliced my main brace with laughing when I found Facetome in Pirate-lingo last week, I'd have had to tie meself to the mast. An' as for all they scurvy knaves who think it's a "childish waste of time", they should be keelhauled: why, loads of LT is a childish waste of time (though not as much as Facetome), and I love it to bits.

  42. erinmontague says:

    Loved it! Thanks for all the hard work and effort!

  43. Sylvia says:

    I'm looking forward to talk like a Jane Austen novel day! 😉

  44. Mary S says:

    You folks did a great Job. I had noticed the Pirate thing on Facebook. Some of my friends had a lot of fun with it. BUT when it showed up on a serious site like Library Thing. I thought the worst had happened and my beloved MAC was not harty, and had gotten a virus. or your site had gotten a virus. I was a little distraught for a while. Good job me harties.

  45. Sue says:

    How very fitting! In yesterday’s state elections in Berlin, the Pirates Party took 9 percent of the vote and will now have 15 seats in Berlin’s parliament. (I’m not making this up, check out the orange bar here:,1518,786376,00.html)

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