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Question about "pirates' slang"

Hi all,

please can you explain what the meaning of the phrase "Free mast and bill of the stern and bow! Man the cannons!" ?

It's said by a pirate (I suppose), in the song "Under Jolly Roger" by Running Wild.

If I remember correctly, the mast is the main "pole" (is the name correct?) of a ship with sails. I don't understand "bill". "Stern" and "bow" are the front and the rear part of the ship? And why "man the cannons"? It means "men at the cannons"?


Thank you!


Dec 14, 2012 11:35 AM
Comments · 3

Thank you for your comment, it was useful.

Any idea about "the bill"?


And about the last comment:


yes!, as a delighted heavy-metal listener, I know that a meaningless lyrics can happen

December 15, 2012

I don't understand the first part of the song though - except to say it might be a paraphrase of "Throw caution to the wind" i.e. No time for worrying about being defeated but lets go in for the fight.


The mast is the pole on the ship to which the sails are attached.


Stern and Bow are the back of the ship and the front of the ship respectively.


The two sides are port (left) and starboard (right). 


I might add most English rock songs / metal / rap are meaningless drivel. So just enjoy the rythym, like everybody else. Don't worry if you don't understand, no one else does.

December 14, 2012

man is actually verb in this context. Its something that is really wierd about English.


To man, means also "to staff" - to employee people for a purpose - in this case the purpose is to prepare the cannons to fire.


So to translate, "Man the cannons" means "(You all) go to cannons and prepare them (to fire)"


I hate the English language. 

December 14, 2012
Language Skills
English, Italian, Japanese
Learning Language