Saturday, February 18, 2012

Irish Expressionism

I promised Vin that I'd write a post about Ireland so here goes. I've always had a fascination with the country. In 1998 or 1999 (the 90s - so long ago I can't even remember which year!), I was lucky enough to be sent by my job to live in Dublin for a month. Oh how I wanted to stay and live there long-term.

Ireland and America are good friends. The U.S. ambassador's residence in Dublin is in the same park as the Irish president's house. So traveling around Dublin and the immediate area (Editor's Note: I've not been to Belfast or Northern Ireland) means you're going to be greeted by friendly, welcoming people. This, of course, contributes to the charm of the area—it's nice to not feel like a barbaric American.

But there's another element that, for me, contributes significantly to the charm of the area and that's the expressions used in everyday conversation. Since my trip was about two weeks ago, I couldn't remember all of the fun slang I wanted to share with you here. Enter Google. A search for the term "irish slang" has thankfully pulled up a number of websites where people more dedicated than I have created dictionaries to help jog my memory. Here are my favorite terms:
  • Grand - This one is really best of the best. It's just like saying "great" in response to anything someone says to you when you want to respond with a supportive, affirmative exclamation. But "grand" sounds just a little more regal, dontcha think?
  • Lovely - Again, this term puts just a little more of a refined emphasis on things. It's not a matter of translating this one, just a matter of it being used more often than we use it here in the states.
  • Crisps - Potato chips. They're sold in every pub*, which I think it brilliant*.
  • Pub* - Not a bar, but a pub. There's a difference and I'm not sure what it is, but I think a bar is a bar in a restaurant or hotel, whereas anything that's only a bar is a pub.
  • Brilliant* - When something is really great, meaning great with an exclamation point.
  • Chalk and cheese -  Used to refer to two things or people who couldn't be any more different.
Of course this anthropological report wouldn't be complete with some real, live footage from the field. Isn't this a lovely tune? I don't totally understand what they're saying, and I've watched this vid a number of times, but it's lovely, grand and brilliant.