Since I’ve been here, my American family and friends have mentioned a few times that I’ve picked up a brogue. Ha! I think that’s funny since I’m firstly not trying to sound Irish and also because I’m not great at replicating accents (one exception being the classic Long Island accent which, thanks to the Koopman side of the family, I could do in my sleep!).
It occurred to me then that, in addition to a few different vocal intonations, I must be using a lot of Irish phrases, leaving the ol’ Yanks scratching their heads as to my meaning! So now, only on this site, for the first time ever, with only three payments of $19.95, in 12 easy steps you too can learn how to speak true Paddywhackery!* Just don’t ask me to teach you any real Irish, or you’ll be out of luck and I’ll be out of a job! Ha ha ha!!!
1. Maybe you thought this was a joke – I always did – but we really do say “me” in place of “my.” We also refer to friends or small groups (usually male, but can go either way) as “lads.”
Example: “Lads, will ya stop messin and give us me phone?”
2. Curse. A lot. And while the frequency of the f-word and c-word is shocking, try not to get too offended at the use of the old JC – most Irish folk will tell you “Jaysus” is Jesus’ Irish brother, so it’s OK. Also popular are the half-swears – such as “arse,” “feck” and “shite.”
Examples: Do you really need examples?
3. When referring to a man or woman, don’t say he/she or her/him. Say “your man” or “your wan” (pronounced “one”).
Example: “Your wan over there told me the craic. She said your man went mental and robbed the place.”
4. When teasing someone, it is common to use the terms “taking the piss” or “taking the mickey.” Be careful using this one – things can go very wrong if you simply rearrange the word order (believe me, I speak from experience).
Example: Your man wasn’t serious – he was just taking the piss to make me look an eejit.”
Common retort when someone is taking the piss: “Axe me hole!” (don’t ask me what this means, by the way…I’ve no clue)
5. Replace the overused word “thing” in the American vocabulary with the equally overused word “yoke.”
Example: “Give us that yoke over there.”
6. These are particularly indigenous to County Cork – end your sentences with “so” or “like.”
Example: “Ah sure, I’ll bring it over to you so.”
7. Throw the phrase “you know yourself ” randomly into sentences to show people your empathy.
Example: “I can’t believe the weather. Ah but sure you know yourself like.”
8. Using the word “Awesome” will pinpoint you as an American quicker than the a buggy pileup at Penny’s on a Saturday. Instead, use words like “Brilliant!” or “Class!” to express your jubilation.
Example: “That movie last night was pure class!” “Ah Mary, that’s brilliant news!”
9. Even though there is a lot of taking the Lord’s name in vain, many people will frequently use phrases like “please God” and “thank God and His Holy Mother.” The trick is to run all the words together.
Example: “The match tomorrow’s to be a good one, pleasegod!” “Well, it was a gorgeous summer, thankgodandhisholymother!”
10. Often questions seem to be phrased with the words in a different order than you’d hear in the States.
Example: “Have you any scones today? Have you any butter to put on them?” Or “Awe, is this your baby? What age is she?”
11. In case there were words above that you did not understand, here’s a quick brush-up on vocabulary.
Yank – American
Eejit – Idiot
Mental – Crazy
Gorgeous – word most often used for cute babies and scrumptious food.
The Craic – news, gossip, good times
Pennys – clothes and housewares appealing to the masses… somewhere between Wal-Mart and Target quality stuff
12. Though it makes no grammatical sense whatsoever, often you’ll hear people putting the word “as” into sentences when describing someone.
Example: “Oh look at her, she’s as wise!” or “Thanks very much, you’re as good.”
BONUS: It’s not all bad. :) The Irish begrudgery lends itself to guilt which lends itself to daily pleasantries.
“Grand, thanks, notabodda.”
Translation: “Hi, how are you?”
“Fine, thanks, not a bother.”
*This is only a bit of a piss-take and not a real language course. No money will be forcibly taken or otherwise for reading along and/or practicing the above words and phrases.