So "Here Be Dragons" was originally accurate?

Southeast Asia; not so far, considering it’s a European globe, from Indonesia–from Komodo–from the Komodo dragons! Well, that changes the significance of the phrase entirely!

As long as there’s already a thread about this, I’d like to know why HC SVNT DRACONES is translated to “Here be dragons,” instead of “Here are” or “Here there are dragons.”

Old dialect, traditionally associated with sailors.

Just a hunch, but I think that be the way them people spake in them days.

It’s an interesting thing, but perhaps the dragon reference is to the prevalence in SEA mythology and symbology* of dragons?

[size=1]*Big shout out to one Mr. D. Brown.


Because it sounds more “piratey” (just my WAG)

Cite? The bible wasn’t written in English, but when translated it was heavily influenced by the dialects, sentence structures, and vernacular of the day.

We presume that they would said “Here be Dragons” in the day and age that they wrote the Latin equivolent.

Historically accurate or not, it’s why we say it that way instead of “Here there are Dragons.”

Presume away. But give me some proof rather than your opinion.

Proof of what exactly?

If you’re asking him to prove that there was a dialect used by sailors way back when in which “here be dragons” was natural, then you’ve misunderstood Cisco’s proposal.

But is that not what you’re asking him to prove?


“Here be dragons” sounds much more cool than “There are unconfirmed reports of dragons or some sort of dragon like creatures in this particular vicinity.”

I’ll cite. Wikipedia on West Country Dialects The southwest coast of England supplied a lot of ships and sailors, and what we think of “pirate dialect” is pretty similar to what you’d hear on the streets of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, etc. (I’ve been called “me handsome” at a pasty shop, meaning “you there.”) Note the “he be / they be” forms.

I understand that, but the person who translated the phrase for us wasn’t a sailor from Plymouth. If there were maps that had the phrase in English, I would say that’s the reason, but apparently no such map exists, as far as we know.

Ah. I misunderstood your question. A couple of reference books on dragon and sea monster folklore turn up nothing; I did find a very interesting reference to the “Dragon’s Triangle” which might explain why it is (roughly) where it is on that globe:

The beliefs about it are similar to those about the Bermuda triangle: a dangerous stretch of water where an unusually high number of ships are lost. Dragons are blamed.

As to your original and very good question, I can only surmise that some writer had seen the globe, and chose to render it in English in what he / she felt was a seafaring dialect, and it caught on.

It is said that Robert Newton, who played Long John Silver, first for Disney in 1950, then in 1954-5 in an Australian sequel and a TV series (he also played Blackbeard in 1952) based his now iconic “pirate” voice on the West-country accent he used as Frank Crutchley in the rather dreadful 1940 movie of “Busman’s Honeymoon” (shown as “Haunted Honeymoon” in the US).

How far can the belief be traced? My understanding was that the Devil’s Sea, by whatever name, was never mentioned before the 1950s, when it was hyped by Bermuda Triangle advocates. Larry Kusche, author of The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved (which Cecil cited here) claims that when he asked Japanese officials about the Devil’s Triangle, they said they never heard of it.

Good point. Clary’s main source is Berlitz, also mentioned in the article you cited; not exactly reliable. On that basis alone, I think it’s safe to discount the “triangle” aspect and accompanying geography. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea of a named portion of the sea associated with dragons and shipping hazards; cf. Scylla and Charybdis in Greek tradition. Regarding the Japanese name, I do wish that Kusche had asked sailors rather than officials, who would be in a better position to know folk-names.

There are quite a number of sources on oceanic dragons in Chinese and Japanese folklore. Werner says in Ancient Tales of China (1922) “When [the sea-dragon king] rises to the surface the whole ocean surges, waterspouts foam, and typhoons rage.” Yofuné-Nushi was a sea serpent or dragon from Japanese mythology which could also cause storms. I’m limited by being unable to read Japanese or Chinese, but the secondary sources have a wealth of storm-causing ocean-dwelling dragons, some affiliated with specific geography such as Ryukyu.