The European: Special K

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Type Arrrrrrrr

Arrrrrrrr, ooh arr me hearties. September the 19th (mark it in your diarrry) is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and for people not inclined to wear pink or buy a bear, these sort of days form an integral part of the calendar year. While your colleagues may applaud your Movember cultivation in the name of charity, some events are best left for the self, an indulgent ego trip for the soul to enlight and enliven the 262nd day of the year. It’s either that or celebrate the Solomon Islands joining the United Nations.

A little research had me reciting some Pirateese with far greater competence than when I nervously entered my fifth form GCSE Oral French exam. The entire charade revolved around me actually speaking another language other than francofied english for the benefit of the Yorkshire exam board, represented in this case by a small Sanyo tape recorder on a desk in a cold, unused classroom. My meek attempt to ask directions to the railway station had my dear French teacher waving manically the direction of the relevant verb tense behind the tape recorder as though it might see him with me moving from present to past like a manic fifteen year old Doctor Who. A charades champion he was not, and a B was, frankly, far greater reward than I deserved, thanks in part to his valiant effort.

The language of Pirate on the other hand revolves around a lot of poor grammar and a lot of ‘arrr’. For example, when stuck for something to say simply utter ‘arrr’. For example:

Pirate One: Me boys n me we was cuttin the ‘ole bunch of lubbers into pieces and sendin’ ’em to Davey Jones’ locker, so we was.
Pirate Two: Arrr.

If only I could have arrr-ed my way to La Rochelle railway station.

I don’t know if there were ever any Japanese pirates but this most famous of Pirateese has made it onto the back of their most famous sporting dynasty. Say it with me, the Arrr series Skylines. And since then every other manufacturer wishing to display some sort of sporting intent has followed, evolving the shorthand to but a single letter that signifies the rawest, sportiest, piratest model in the range. Long ago the Italians probably were the ones to kick things off with Gran Turismo which, for Poms with as much talent for foreign language as I had at fifteen, was shortened to simply ‘GT’. (If you’re eighteen years old or less and you’re reading this then this may come as some surprise that cars such as the Renault Clio GT aren’t named after the seminal Sony driving simulator). Then followed S for Sport, RS for Rallye Sport, then the letter I or, rather more cooly, in the lower case to signify injection over carburetion, until finally, GTI. Then before you know it, even that ended reverently with one letter—R.

It has become such a reverent letter that, in time, even the lowliest nomenclatures will have this letter sitting stylistically on the far edge of their boot; Hyundai Sonata … R.  And when that happens, the likes of Audi with their RS labels, Nissan with GT-R, Volkswagen with their R-series and Honda with a whole Type-R family will have to pick one of the remaining unused letters of our alphabet.

So here’s to K. Something a pirate would never say because a pirate would sooner cut yer hand orf than agree wi’yee.