The English language draws from many sources, but few are so rich in tradition – and still in current use today – as words and phrases with a Naval or Maritime origin. Our #MaritimeMonday posts on the social media pages provide an interesting insight into these phrases. But anyone familiar with the world of Her Majesty’s Services will know that The Royal Navy has a language all of it’s own and is known as ‘Jackspeak’ – Jack being of course our Jolly Jack Tar. Have look through this article and see what you think!
Many Plymothians will have ‘swallowed the anchor’ after working for the Grey Funnel Line or the Green Death (retired after RN or RM Service) and even though Diamond Lil’s may be long gone and Union Strasse be a pale shadow of it’s former self, Jackspeak is still widely spoken around GUZZ (WW1 letter-code for Plymouth).
Famously recorded in print by Cdr Rick Jolly, Jackspeak has been researched by Pickle-Jar Officers (graduates who can tell you the square root of a pickle jar lid to three decimal places – but can’t actually get the lid off) and Snotties (young Midshipmen) alike as they set out to converse with Three-Badge Killicks (Leading Seamen wearing a kellick anchor rank patch and three good conduct chevrons indicated long service and great experience – NOT to be confused with Sergeant’s stripes!) and the Buffer (senior seaman rating).
Digging Out (Working Hard) on the Oggin (Ocean) works up a good appetite, and so Scran (food) and drink (Goffers being soft drinks and in days of yore Nelson’s Blood being rum) are always popular topics; on the menu might be Train Smash, Babies Heads, Floaters in the Clouds or Whales with some nice Fishes Eyes for afters or a bar of Nutty. (That’s Bacon and Tomatoes, Steak and Kidney puddings, Sausages and Mash and Sardines – then Tapioca or a Chocolate bar)
You will probably sit down to dine with one of your Wingers (modern civilian equivalent BFF or Bestie!) who will likely have a nickname traditionally issued with his surname – for example Wiggy Bennett, Knocker White or Tug Wilson; Plymouth folk will also know Bogie Knight, and presumably Buck Rogers dates from more modern times!
Take care that you do not leave the table with too many Canteen Gongs (gravy stains down your jumper).
You may have been Told Off (which doesn’t mean you’ve been naughty – just told what to do) for your day’s work by the Jimmy (Jimmy The One is the First Lieutenant – the Officer who direct the day to day work of the ship) so off you go (unless you have a Make and Mend – free time) to save you from going Round the Bend (Mad) or even Dagenham (Half way to barking). Then you can nip ashore – even if you are aboard a Stone Frigate (shore base).
Next time you overhear these wonderful oddities, remember the delights of Jackspeak! For more interesting facts, follow the social media pages of King Point Marina.