He doesn’t talk like a Long John Silver “arr matey” pirate. I can usually do voices pretty well (you should hear me do both sides of a Bert and Ernie bit) but Captain Hook is impossible.
A Hans Conreid-esque one. He’s his own man, not beholden to traditions of the British stage.
For that matter, Johnny Depp as Captain Jaxck Sparrow pretty much avoids the “traditional” “Arr-Matey” style, although Geoffrey Rush seems to revel in it.
Put it this way: if a London doper heard someone on the Tube talking like Captain Hook, would they peg him as probably hailing from any particular locale?
I’d say he has a darling voice.
Captain Hook is a refined gentleman. He went to Eton College! (Okay, so it’s for children 13-18 but it’s still fancy!)
The stereotypical “pirate” accent is the Anglo-Cornish dialect.
Or, more to the point, a stagey variation thereof. A lot of seamen came from Cornwall, including some actual pirates.
I heard what you did there.
Maybe so, but I had always assumed that it was Robert Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver that introduced it to pop culture. Did any movie pirates sound like that before him?
In case there’s any confusion, this is a sample of Captain Hook’s dialogue. Not “arr-matey.”
His accent is that of Dr. Snidely Terwilliger Whiplash (D. Mus), from Baltimore, MD.
Baltimore and NYC.
There’s no confusion on my part. I’m talking about something different from, but related to, the OP’s question. In case you’re confused.
The Pirates of Penzance (1879) isn’t exactly a movie, but it’s certainly pop culture.
Penzance, lest you imagine Mr Gilbert invented it, is the biggest town in Cornwall.
…which would seem to me to indicate that the connection between pirates and the Cornish accent was already established in the 1870s. As I said before, at least some of the famous pirates really were from Cornwall and really did talk in what we non-English people would recognise as pirate-dialect.
I’m the OP, dude, and I think everybody here already knows where the arr-matey accent comes from. Thanks for sharing, though. I’ll remember your technique the next time somebody asks a question where I obviously don’t have an answer but still feel the need to chime in.
The connection between piracy and Cornwall is unquestionable. The connection between piracy and Penzance, however, is facetious. At the time when The Pirates of Penzance; or the Slave of Duty was written, the city was widely known as a cozy resort. This plays right along with certain other aspects of the crew’s behavior that is deliberately un-piratical: eschewing rum for sherry, attacking only stronger parties than themselves, granting immunity to orphans, etc.
Despite an academic background in Linguistics, I had never poked into dialect/accent far beyond Labov until just last year or so. Mainly, I’ve concentrated on American English dialects, specifically Appalachian speech.
This thread opened up a new area of interest. That of dialect/accent in fiction. Disney is so rich for that in the literature it has chosen to present.
I’ve looked at what I could online, and i found this “starter” article in Lexiophiles: http://www.lexiophiles.com/english/the-linguistics-of-disney-what-if-mowgli-spoke-with-a-hindi-accent The parts about power relationships and nationalism are particularly interesting, imo.
The only remarks about Hook’s accent that I can find refer to it being the “standard” London accent, removed in time to some degree to Old English.
Thanks for this thread and the posters above!
P.S. It’s a thread like this that makes me feel like I’ve found the forum for me!
Staff Report on Things Piratical: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2729/why-are-pirates-depicted-with-a-parrot-on-their-shoulder
About the language:
Listen to Wendy’s dad.
I don’t know if Disney got this right, but I just finished reading the book, and Hook not only is an Eton graduate, he’s a pathetic arrested-development Eton boy, to the extent that in his death scene, his internal monologue is all about Good Form Eton-style. Hopefully Disney was able to get an Eton accent for Hook, given how important his school was to his character.