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Nancy Blackett's piratical language and phrases include "barbecued billygoats", "galoots", "jib-booms and bobstays", "shiver my timbers" and "mutton-headed galoots".

In Winter Holiday while Nancy is quarantined, Peggy was trying to fill her place. She even tried to use Nancy's language, but, somehow, it was not the same thing as when Captain Nancy had been there herself, shivering timbers, talking of jib-booms and bobstays, and keeping everybody busy (WH10). At the end of the book Nancy overhears her and asks What .. Who taught you to shiver timbers? Peggy replies Just while you were away. Nancy acknowledges: Well .. I bet it all helped (WH29).

Similarly in The Picts and the Martyrs when Timothy and Nancy go to the foot of the lake looking for the GA: Peggy who, now that Nancy was away, was doing her best to fill her place, put her foot down firmly. "Jibbooms and bobstays", she said in quite the Nancy manner ... (PM25).

Nancy also changes her phrases to match the situation. For example in Secret Water she makes up eely swearwords e.g. Great Congers .... It's only the Eel's blood beginning to work (SW12). In Great Northern? her language becomes ornithological, e.g. "Jibbooms and bobstays" .... "Peewits and Puffins I mean" (GN12).

for the record[]

"Barbecued billygoats" SA: 0 SD: 1 PD: 1 WH: 3 (1 1st person, 1 3rd person, 1 asking if Peggy used the phrase, which she didn't) CC: 0 PP: 7 WD: 0 SW: 8 + 1 by Peggy BS: 0 ML: 7 + 2 by Roger PM: 1 GN: 3

"Jibbooms and bobstays" SA: 0 SD: 0 PD: 4 WH: 6 + 5 by Peggy CC: 0 PP: 2 + one 'Bobstays and jib-booms' WD: 0 SW: 7 + 1 by Peggy BS: 0 ML: 11 PM: 6 + 'Jibbooms, bobstays and battleaxes' + 1 by Peggy GN: 3 + 1 by Peggy

(Thanks to Tarboard user allym)

  • Mutton-headed galoots: see PM29.

Japanese translations[]

In the Japanese translations of the Swallows and Amazons series, Nancy's swearwords are translated like this:

  • Barbecued billygoats: たまげた、こまげた Tamageta, komageta or Tamageta, komageta, hiyorigeta = names of three types of Japanese wooden clogs (worn on the feet): ball-soled ones, normal ones and clogs with short teeth used for dry weather. The expression is a play on the word word tamageta (魂消た) meaning "astonished"
  • Shiver my timbers: あたりき、しゃりき Atariki, shariki' = "Common rickshaw puller" in the Tokyo dialect
  • Jib-booms and bobstays: おどろき、もものき、さんしょのき Odoroki, momonoki, sanshonoki' = "Surprise , peach tree, Japanese pepper tree." Nancy uses an extended version once or twice: おどろき もものき さんしょのき ブリキに タヌキに 陸蒸気 Odoroki, momonoki, sanshonoki, buriki ni tanuki ni okajoki which means "Surprise , peach tree, Japanese pepper tree, tinplated iron, a raccoon, a steam locomotive."

Thanks to Yuko Kurokawa Eto for her explanations of the Japanese versions.

See also[]