Thursday 28 July 2011

05 - 'Ye can'nae dae aught, if ye hav'nae go' aught ..'

Fields in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down
March 18, 2009

Now last time we were talking a bit about Irish weather. and every time I start to say something about this blessed wee country of ours, I find I have to explain the way we talk!  We mostly speak English in this part of the world - although there IS actually a Gaeltaecht right in the middle of Belfast, which is more than you say about Dublin!

But even when we're speaking English, we use Irish expressions and idioms - so, for instance, we often say - especially on St Patrick's Day! - 'I've a terrible thirst on me', instead of just sayin', 'I'm thirsty'.  That comes straight from the Irish language, 'Ta ocras orim'.  You can also have hunger 'on you', from the Irish, 'Ta gorta orim'.

Irish people also find it quite hard to say a blunt, 'No!' when asked something - probably because in the Irish language there are no direct words for 'Yes', or 'No!'  It's more like, 'I am', or 'I will', or 'I don't' - that sort of thing.

We also use a lot of old-fashioned expressions, like the one I used last show, 'foundered'.  But we still manage to speak a more easily understood form of the English language than some English people.  Did you know that the Spanish government send over two boatloads every year of students, who spend their summer in either Cork or Dublin, so they can improve their use of English.  They don't send any students to London!

Now, here in the north of Ireland we're often a bit of mixture of Irish and Scottish.  So there are places - like 'north Antrim, hey!' and the 'Lower Ards' peninsula, for example - where you'll hear a lot of Scottish expressions like, 'I cannae do this', 'I hav'nae got that', and it gets very 'co-ld' - and the like.  Or parts of Co. Down and Armagh, where we drive 'cyars' and walk on 'cyarpets', and farmers have 'tracthers' and try to 'Rare a wean a cattle, bye!'  Or, as a friend of mine would say, 'Ye can'nae dae aught, if ye hav'nae got aught, to dae aught with, hey!'

So, what it all boils down to is there's not just one Irish accent, but a whole series of different accents from different parts of Ireland.  We'll mebbe try and educate ye over the next few shows on some a' the differences.

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