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My passion is code quality, automated testing, software craftsmanship.

Ireland English dictionary for the non-Irish

Random musings on living in Ireland:

As a South-African who's been living in Ireland for over 4 years, let me show you some of the Irish lingo (I think) I've learned so far. Please feel free to add/correct as necessary.

First the Irish-English phrase and then the "international" English phrase would be understood by South-Africans and Americans alike (I would hope).
  • It's half eight = It's half past eight.
    • This one I especially used to find confusing because in Afrikaans the direct translation "half agt" actually means the equivalent of "half to eight" i.e. "half past seven".
  • What's the craic? = Hey, what's up?
  • What's the craic and all? = Hey, what's up? (as said by an Indian living in Ireland - hi Ramesh :-)
  • Just call in to pick it up. = Just come in and pick it up. (I still keep falling for this one and actually CALL people on the phone, only to discover I didn't have to call but only have to call in, duh!)
  • evening = afternoon
    • example: Yesterday evening I worked on...
    • translation: Yesterday afternoon I worked on...
  • Did you enjoy that dinner? = Did you enjoy that lunch? (I think 'supper' is reserved for 'dinner'..?)
  • Do you want to come over for tea? = Do you want to come over for dinner? (Not sure about this one...?)
  • Runners = tekkies (South-African), sneakers (American)
  • Pants = underwear / underpants
  • Cheers! = Thanks! (Not 'bye'!)
  • So I told yer man = So I told the guy
  • Jumper = Jersey
  • Are you dosed? = Do you have the flu?
  • I'm wile dosed = I'm very sick
  • Bap = bun (bread)
  • At the minute = At the moment
I admit that some of these might not necessarily be purely Irish words/phrases but may be influenced by British-English, which is possibly slightly closer to South-African English, but not quite. I'd say South-African English is, when spoken, perhaps the closest to US-English (but closer in spelling to UK-English).

Also, just a silly story to add:

I've been in love with Ireland my whole life, so on previous occasions (before moving to Ireland) I've bought some Irish wool caps and a very nice (and expensive I want to add) jersey. Then we moved to Ireland in 2009. I got a little book about Ireland and Irish culture. In this book I learned about the concept "More Irish than the Irish"... I realised that if I wore my Irish-made wool cap, which I bought in the same county that I live in now, but years ago (around 2000 or so), then I'll just seem like an idiot tourirst who's trying to look Irish. For the same reason I'm reluctant to wear any Irish-branded stuff (like a nice Ireland t-shirt I also bought years ago) for the fear of looking like a silly foreigner trying to look Irish :-)

I must admit, occasionally when I visit a neighbouring town in Donegal, and a shop-keeper doesn't understand my weird accent, it is convenient to pretend that I'm just visiting from SA. It does get weird when you keep pretending to be a visitor from SA every time you visit the same store though (like that from the lovely Mr. McGinty's in Donegal Town - hi Mr. McGinty, I love your shop, but I've bought lots of stuff from your shop over the years and I expect a discount next time... haha ;.)

Sometimes when people in Letterkenny don't understand this crazy unfamiliar accent, they assume that I'm Polish. Not sure why. In the US people thought I'm either Scottish or Australian...?

I hope this post doesn't cause any offense to the occasional Irish or Western-European visitor :-)