16/10/2016

BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO IRISH SLANG


Irish people are known for drinking, witty humour and their lovable branch of English. Some have even argued that Irish is the sexiest accent of them all. (Don't believe me? Read THIS article) But when you first land in Ireland and proceed to chat with the local folk, you might find yourself lost in translation: like any other dialect, Irish people have their very own bunch of slang words that might choke you in the midst of conversation. So here we have it: my English-Irish-English key vocabulary cheat list for anyone new to Ireland!

P.S. I live in Dublin. Some words might not work outside of the capital - you've been warned!

"GRAND"
"Grand" is an essential word to learn if you intend to communicate with the Irish. You'll hear things like "It'll be grand" or "That's grand love" in any casual conversation, and the proper answer to the question "How are you?" is of course "Grand" instead of "Fine". For the Irish grand doesn't necessarily refer to anything extraordinary or amazing, as one would easily guess. It's basically a synonym for good. 


"CRAIC"

So what's the craic with "craic"? The Irish might be heard saying things like "I don't get the craic of it" or "It'll be good craic". Craic comes from the Gaelic word, meaning "fun", and is basically an alternative spelling for crack. The Irish craic has multiple levels of intensity, so make sure to refer to the appropriate level of craic!

"DEADLY"
Don't get scared: when an Irish person approaches you and tells you look deadly, things are not getting hostile. "Deadly" is actually a synonym for all things wonderful or stunning. Anything from your hair to your purse to your new sofa complex can be deadly for the Irish.

"ANYWAY" / "ALRIGHT"
Speaking with the Irish is like living in a constant cliffhanger. Why? Because they tend to replace the period with a phrase like "anyway" or "alright". Like this:
"See you on Monday alright!"
"I'll be headin' to Tesco anyway."
"Wow! Your hair looks fabulous alright!"
And the advanced level: "Ya twill alright! I like to write everything down anyway. Tis good to have real copy's of things." (an actual message my Irish friend sent me on Facebook)
I have personally started to believe the Irish are afraid of closure. So don't wait for a proper ending for your discussion: it will most likely never come.

"CHEERS"
Well this is an easy one for those who have lived in the UK Midlands like me! Just like in Leicester, "cheers" is an essential word to add in your Irish quiver. The basic rule is to replace "Thank you" with "Cheers" in every situation. The bartender hands you a pint: cheers. Someone picks up the book you just dropped: cheers. Your friend sneezes: cheers (replaces "Bless you"). You can take this cheering a step further by using it as a goodbye too.

"THE STICKS"
No, not the band. "She's livin' somewhere down the sticks" basically means her friend lives outside of any known civilisation, in the middle of nowhere. Some Dubliners like to refer to anything outside the capital as the sticks.

"THICK"
Not the most flattering way to describe a person: "He's a bit thick" isn't a comment on his weight, but his intellectual abilities. Being called thick means someone is a bit stupid or unintelligent.

"FECK"
You know very well where this comes from. "Feck it", "Feckin hell". This can also be heard in its rounder variant: "Fock". "Well I'll be focked", with a long O, is an essential phrase all around Dublin. This word is especially important in traffic - roll up those windows, because it'll be comin at ya.

Any other words you have found useful or funny in Ireland? Let me know in the comments below! 


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2 comments:

  1. Another strange one I came across is the use of word "gas" as a synonym for anything funny or interesting. Being told "Oh you're gas" after making a witty comment made me a little unsure if the person I was talking to appreciated my humour or not...but I agree with the Irish accent being among the sexiest in the world! I still miss it although I left Dublin for sunnier pastures a long time ago.

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    1. Well that's a funny one isn't it! I've heard it a few times too, and I must say it made me a tiny bit confused at first. Did you ever hear people saying "is that you?" when asking if you're done? Like when filling out a form on a counter or such - I was so baffled by that. And the Irish accent surely is lovely, and damn it's catchy too! It's almost impossible NOT to start automatically speaking the same way after a while...

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