Friday, September 18, 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, 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!

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Blogger shelf-employed said...

Arr! I be lovin' it, mateys!

9/18/2009 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arrr, the site is great
Mary Crickett the Bloody

9/18/2009 7:44 PM  
Blogger Elaine said...

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.

9/18/2009 8:14 PM  
Anonymous 03swalker said...

[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*]

9/18/2009 8:22 PM  
Blogger Felius said...

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

9/18/2009 8:37 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

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

9/18/2009 9:40 PM  
Anonymous The Dread Pirate Rachael said...

Arrrr! This be awesome! Excellent work, mateys!

9/18/2009 10:00 PM  
Anonymous laurenbethy said...

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

9/18/2009 10:29 PM  
Blogger kat said...

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

9/18/2009 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

9/18/2009 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anneli said...

"Finger to the Wind" sounds better than Zeitgeist.

9/19/2009 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Acai Berry Detox said...

such a nice post.

9/19/2009 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Penny said...

I love the pirate-speak!!!

9/19/2009 3:06 AM  
Anonymous theoreme said...

what a wonderful surprise, guys!

9/19/2009 5:13 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

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!

9/19/2009 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

9/19/2009 6:49 AM  
Blogger Michał Paluchowski said...

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

9/19/2009 6:51 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Judge said...

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

9/19/2009 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Jaymee said...

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

9/19/2009 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

9/19/2009 8:24 AM  
Blogger masstransit said...

That's the dumbest damn thing I ever saw!

9/19/2009 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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!

9/19/2009 10:01 AM  
Blogger riverwillow said...

Hilarious. Now where's the rum?

9/19/2009 10:16 AM  
Anonymous DarrrBubbles said...

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

9/19/2009 10:47 AM  
Anonymous larkweed said...

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

9/19/2009 10:47 AM  
Blogger Silverheron said...

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.

9/19/2009 11:27 AM  
Blogger Benu said...

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!!!

9/19/2009 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Cstanley1976 said...

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

9/19/2009 11:48 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

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's so fun...and I posted about it on my blog as an enticement to get more people to look at LT

Great job

9/19/2009 12:01 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

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

9/19/2009 12:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

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-

9/19/2009 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Thomsen said...

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."

9/19/2009 2:34 PM  
Blogger Jaydit said...


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

9/19/2009 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

9/19/2009 2:46 PM  
Blogger Skinnee Jay said...

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

9/19/2009 3:50 PM  
Blogger Laura (Camp) Morgan said...

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

9/19/2009 4:01 PM  
Blogger Alex Daw said...

Absolutely loved it...laughed and laughed and 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!!!

9/19/2009 7:06 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

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

9/19/2009 9:43 PM  
Anonymous fullyarmedvishnu said...

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

9/20/2009 1:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"arr" not "arrgh"????

9/20/2009 8:30 PM  
Anonymous MyopicBookworm said...

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.

9/21/2009 5:37 AM  
Anonymous erinmontague said...

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

9/22/2009 3:31 PM  
Blogger Island Bookworm said...

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

9/22/2009 9:06 PM  
Blogger Mary S said...

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.

10/16/2009 11:21 AM  

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