Thursday 28 July 2011

16 - 'Listen, son, you're tatie bread!'

Holywood Road approach to Belfast, from bridge
January 28, 2010

Every day or two I find myself using an expression, or I hear someone else using one, which is typically from Northern Ireland. I always mean to make a note of these, but of course, I never do. The more I think about it, the more difficult, I realise, it must be for people arriving here for the first time - y'know, immigrants from Poland and India, or China - or the odd tourist, now.

First, they have to cope wi' the way we pronounce words - sayin' 'cyar', instead of 'car' and 'hate', instead of 'heat' - that sorta thing. Plus the fact that we often run several words together and then stick in a few extra words like 'right' and 'now' and 'like' - just to confuse people!

Then there are the actual words we speak - many of which are not to be found in any English dictionary. It's a wondther some of them don't pack up and go home bewildered after their first week here! More power to them for staying - and even learnin' till spake like what we dae!

As I've said before, some of our words, and manner of speech come from Irish or Scots Gaelic, like askin' yer mates, 'Have yez any money on yez?' or explainin', 'She'd a face on her like a busted boot!' Some comes from Elizabethan English - or Ulster Scawts, as it's usually referred to, like saying, 'I'm founderin'', or 'I can't thaul the pain'.

In Belfast, at any rate - you'll often find we've also adopted the Cockney rhyming slang and made it our own. A Londoner might just understand it if someone asked him to, 'Shift yer big ignorant plates a' meat' - in other words, feet. But what would he make of it he'd offended someone and was told, 'Listen son, you're tatie bread, now!' in other words, dead! Or someone asked, 'D'ya think I'm gonna wait in'till a'm tatied, like?'

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