What did they just say? What on earth does that mean? These are thoughts or statements that may take place if you have ever cruised on a ship as a passenger or worked as a fresh “newbie” onboard. I actually wrote about this back in 2015 but feel I really only scratched the surface when it comes to shiplife language. I keep it light hearted, for obvious reasons I will not entertain or discuss anything that would be rude, crude or socially unattractive.
On every ship around the world, just like any airplane that is expected to meet a global regulatory standard must follow the international aviation, or in my case maritime language of English. Crew will and do speak other languages especially with foreign guests, yet must be fully competent and capable of fluently communicate in English. This way, in the event of an emergency the ships crew are all speaking the same language.
English though, is actually a very “muddy” language as far as language goes. Ask anyone that is multilingual and English is not their first language they will tell you that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. My personal example, I am a born native english speaker from the west coast of Canada and yet I have travelled to Cardiff Wales and trying to order a hamburger at Burger King was laughingly impossible…
This happens because English is prone to adopt a lot of local slang or regional specific words. Did you see the size of that Lorry? or did you see the size of that truck? Just place it in the boot or just place it in the trunk.
So here they are, my TOP 10! words used in English by ships crew that are very commonly used onboard and perhaps never used back home.
Well, there you have it. My Top Ten behind the scenes ship english terms spoken by the crew.
I will also admit that my spoken english has actually morphed a lot over the last 4.5 years. I have by osmosis, adopted a lot more of the proper British vernacular as Canadian slang seems to have drifted further afield from her Majesty’s english. Is it “TOE-MOT-O”? or TOE-MATE-O”? or even, if I am really being literal “Tomato Sauce” (Ketchup). Another big one for me, I like my greens and enjoy Rocket… Nobody in North America knows what that means. In Canada or the US it is “Arugula”, for me though I have totally shifted to not even thinking about it and just saying “Rocket”, my poor local produce girl...
I wonder what you will notice on your next cruise? Let me know if you ave noticed other words that should have been included in the list by commenting below.