Talking Like A Sailor–Not Swearing

One of the things I love most about Moby-Dick is its realistic dialogue: while reading of the endeavors of the crew of the Pequod and the ballistic Captain Ahab you feel as if you are stowing away inside the ship and listening to the commonplace interactions between sailors–except there are no rats, nor are there leaks…unless you like to read in the bathtub.

The words they use sound lifelike–granted, sailors have a special lingo like that of businessmen: instead of data they say stowage; instead of bathroom they say poop deck; and while these words are enjoyable they are nothing compared to a good ol’ Aargh! or Shiver me timbers! 

But I am talking about whaling sailors, not cartoonish pirates. Here’s looking at you, Blackbeard.

Ahab is by far the most articulate individual aboard. Whenever he comes into the next chapter a shiver runs down your spine–and as you change your drawers you hear aloud his insulting orders towards Starbuck–hey, isn’t that the coffee place?–and Stubb.

My favorite line is from Ahab: “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me.”  To me that sounds supremely badass. I picture a muscle bound Ahab with a gold casing on the tip of his peg  leg soaring on a white whale bone sled towards the jeering sun. Not enough badass? Give him a harpoon gun fueled by the blood of Moby Dick that fires high velocity water torpedoes. And a dragon–put a dragon at the front of the sled.

I am reasonably sure there are sailor dictionaries out there in the wide world of this-book-is-random-but-it-is-still-loads-of-fun-to-read sections. If I checked out the comedy section in Barnes and Noble it would likely be stowed between a copy of training a crocodile to drink tea and the Klingon dictionary–my uncle can converse in the language.

Take this as a book recommendation. Go find a copy of Moby-Dick to educate yourself in the cultured dialogue of whalers, if not to savor the knowledgable bits on the actual topic of whaling. Herman Melville knew his stuff…

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s