What The Fuck Did You Say?

I have lived in Ireland for more than a year now and I have still not learned to understand English Irish. English and Irish are not the same and I don't mean Irish the language. I am talking about the Irish that sounds just like English but for all intensive purposes might as well be a different language. It is a language that I am still learning the ins and outs of.


I am still astounded by all the different Irish accents I have heard. Differentiating them is a job in itself. I was just looking up to see how many different accents there were and I read that Irish is known as the language of a million accents, so I am assuming the Irish English I speak of has quite a few too. That should tell you enough. In addition the Irish speak with a speed that only the most experienced American travelling in Ireland could possibly keep up with. I am slowly acquiring that talent. Often the first sentence someone will say to me is "What's the craic" and here is me thinking why is this person asking me for crack.

gay couple, Aaron and Mike joking about their language barrier.

Even with Aaron sometimes I still feel we are speaking in different tongues. For a period of about 4 months there was a time when I was constantly bugging Aaron about a particular phrase he used. I was always asking him, what did you say to that cab driver, to the waitress, how do you know their names? My list of questions went on and on. He kept insisting I was hearing things and he was saying the same thing to all of them, "Thanks." Well, I know what I hear and there is a difference between 1 syllable and 4. There is a difference between thanks and "thanksavilliam".... After about three months of going back and forth with this conversation we were having lunch with a friend of Aaron's Julie. I was repeating this story to her and she asked Aaron to repeat "thanks," for her. Well she burst out laughing. Immediately she told me what Aaron had been saying which he had no idea about. He was saying, "Thanks a million." What I had been hearing was for months was "thanksa villiam." Each time I was stupefied that not only did everyone have the same name but that he knew everyone's name too.


Two other terms that always get me are boys and lads. So many times someone says to Aaron and I, "Thanks lads or hello boys." At first I was constantly looking around to see who they were talking to until Aaron told me they were talking to us. I was always turning my head around to see if there was a gang of teenagers in our midst. In the US nobody would ever call me lad or boy it would be sir or mister. I have picked up the phrases myself and quite enjoy using them. Then there is "your man." one of my favourites. One day we were walking down the street and Aaron said, "there's, "your man." I'm like what are you talking about. Your my man, Well it refers to any guy your talking about. For a while I would be walking down the street here and heard the phrase so often I figured everyone had about 10 boyfriends, Hey, "there's your man," can refer to your barber, bartender, window washer anyone you want to refer too. The one exception is your one, that one refers to your

women. What's your one's name?

Gay couple, Aaron and Mike making fun of Irish slang.

One word I have come to hate is Grand. At first when Aaron starting saying grand to me I took it at face value, It took me quite a while to see their are many variations of the meaning, All depending on the context it is used in and the mood of the person using it, but seldom does it ever mean grand as an American would use it. I have heard there are 13 different meanings of the word grand here, Some examples:

Grand-Very good

Grand-Surprisingly good

Grand-Good

Grand-Okay

Grand-Not Okay

Grand-Bad

Grand-Feeling down

Grand-Depressed

Grand-Fun/funny


I could not if I tried think of an American word with as many meanings. Another one that gets my boat is, "a bit". Aaron will say Luke will be here in a bit. I'm like thanks a lot you could have told me sooner, I got stuff to do, I'm not ready. Aaron will be like what are you going on about I said, " a bit." Well to me that means a few minutes, In Ireland that could be from an hour to three or four. They do not have the best sense of time. I have had to become far less anal since I moved here.


Next we have Jumper. Every time we go out and Aaron tells me to get my jumper all I can think about are the jumpers my sisters use to wear to school when they younger. Here it is a sweater or sweatshirt. I do like when he tells me I am bold. Not the American bold. Here it refers to me being a naughty boy. As a matter of fact I love it. They also swear like truck drivers which takes more than a little getting used too,


There is one word though that is used here quite a bit which I do like and that is, "lovely." I wished it was used more often in America. When the lockdown ends here the first thing I will look for is a class teaching how to speak English like a Irish man. I suggest anyone planning to visit Ireland do the same. I promise it will be quite enlightening and do wonders for you not feeling like a foreigner who can't understand English-Irish.