Rob and I have been living here for nearly 18 months, and over this time we have learnt a lot about living in Ireland, the way things work, and a large part of moving abroad is learning more about the people, and how to communicate with people is how we all form connections and make friends. Making connections with people helps you integrate into your new life overseas. It is key to be able to ‘fit in’ in your new country, if you don’t feel as though you belong, then it is unlikely that you will stay long term.
One of the reasons we decided to move to Ireland was because we thought language would not be a hurdle since we both speak English. We thought Irish would be similar to South Africans, for example we both have a similar sense of humour. However, one of the major differences between us is the terminology and phrases we both use – perhaps some of these Irish sayings will be similar to your own country, but these are not sayings we are not use to hearing back in South Africa.
- LIKE. I think the Irish are the original ‘likers’. The Irish folk we have met use the word ‘like’ a lot. It reminds me of a guy I knew years ago, who used to point out how many times I said ‘um’ – he was a real jerk, but he had a point, I did say um a lot back then. It makes me think how he would hate to be around the Irish because they say like ten times more than I ever said ‘um’. OK, so maybe this is used back home too, but for the Irish, they use it a little differently, it is usually placed at the end of sentences. For example, ‘she is crazy, like’; ‘It was some good craic, like’. These sentences just don’t sound the same coming out of anyone else. But with the Irish it feels like an accentuation to the story, and it kind of just works, or maybe I am just getting used to it.
- CRAIC. Another very popular word used by the Irish is ‘Craic’; pronounced ‘crack’. It is used to ask how things are going, what is the vibe like, or if something is good fun. For example: ‘What’s the craic? Ah last night was good craic. Are you up for a bit of craic?’ Second to like, it is one of the most used words in Ireland, I reckon. So it is a handy one to know, especially if you were like me, and thought they were looking to buy drugs.
- SHORTEN WORDS. The Irish like to create their own slang by cutting down words and add an O, words like devo, and morto are commonly used – perhaps more with younger teenage girls.
- GRAND. DELIGHTED. CLASS. Grand is used a lot, in the same way that South Africans use the word ‘lekker’. Some Irish will go so far as to say ‘Ah it is grand so’ meaning it is lekker or nice just like that. Everything can be grand but it is usually referred to when something is awesome, great or just OK. Delighted is used when they would ‘love to’, for example ‘I would be delighted’ and Class refers to when something is top-notch, it was class.
- GAS. When something is hilarious or funny or just fun – it is gas.
- YE. This is probably a bit of old English, but it is used instead of you, for example: what are ye doing here like? Or ‘where are ye off to?’ I kind of like this one, but it never really sounds right in coming out of my voice.
- SWEAR WORDS. Shite instead of Shit, Feck instead of Fuck. In some ways, they swear a bit more than us, but I find they sound so much more polite when they swear than when I do! Maybe it’s the accent thing but they will say shite, or feck as an adjective in most sentences and it never comes off as being totally rude.
- YOKE. This is another word for something you don’t know what to call it, like thingamajig; or that thing, Irish folk will call it a yoke.
- BOLD. Instead of saying someone is being cocky or cheeky; you say that they are being bold. It is often used with kids, i.e. ‘Johnny is being so bold’.
- COP ON. Get with the program, Catch a wakeup call; you just need to cop on. I have no idea how this even came to be a saying, but it is often used in banter, when you are talking to someone who does not fully understand what you are saying – you need to ‘cop the feck on’.
- YOUR MAN. This is not related to your actual man, or your husband or boyfriend. But rather refers to ‘some guy’, used in a sentence like this: ‘I was at Tesco and your man behind the counter said they were having a sale’. It is possibly the most bizarre one out of them all, and it feels so out of place that I don’t think this will ever be something I will be able to say without laughing at myself.
- YOU ARE VERY WELCOME. This is a saying that is used as a bit of a welcome introduction. Irish are very polite and will always start a tour or speech with ‘you are very welcome’. It is one of my favourite terms used by the Irish, they are very welcoming.
- NO BOTHER. Probably quite a common saying but South Africans say ‘no worries’ about as much as Irish folk say ‘it is no bother’, meaning that something is no trouble at all.
- YOU MIGHT WANT TO. This actually refers to something that you probably should do. Irish are very polite, probably a little too much. South Africans are often seen as being too direct or blunt, because we will just say it like it is. Whereas Irish will say ‘you might want to’ in an effort to be a bit more polite than coming right out and saying ‘just do it my way’. They say it in a way that you might have a choice, but really it is more like a strong suggestion.
- LOOK COME HERE. Rob never understood what I meant when I said that a lot of my Irish colleagues will say this when they are on the phone. It is a sentence that runs off their tongue so quickly, so every time I said it to him, he said he had never heard it before. But once he heard someone in his own office saying – you just can’t un-hear it. They will usually say it when they when they are chasing up a request or trying to get information. In the same way that we might say ‘ah ya know what’; they will say ‘ah sure look come here’. The next time you are in an open plan office, see if you can hear it too.
WHAT IRISH SAYINGS HAVE YOU NOTICED? ANYTHING I MISSED OFF THE LIST?
Live Simply & Travel Slow,
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