Thursday, 28 July 2011

06 - 'Aye, there y'are now! Where are ye?'

Raymond performing at a fundraising gig in Castlewellan, Co. Down
March 25, 2009

Now last show, I promised we'd talk a bit more about the different Irish accents. Remember I said there wasn't just one Irish accent, but a whole clather a them, dependin' on what part of the country yer talkin' about.

So, where better to start than here in Belfast? Well, for a start, people who live in the city don't even call it that - it's B'lfaast!  An' people from B'lfaast talk a wee bit different, now.

For instance, that word, 'now', seems to come up in every other sentence, nearly. 'Are yez all right, now?' 'Ach, is'n that a pity, now?' 'Ach, c'mon, now! Catch yerself on!' See what a mean?   'Ach', by the way, is just the Irish word for 'but' - y'know, like French people say, 'Mais, non!'

And that's another phrase we use a lot, 'Y'know'. 'Y'know, I was jus thinkin the orr day ..' Y'see, we don't say 'other', or 'brother', or 'father', or 'mother' - it's 'brorr', 'morr', 'farr', aye, an' 'no borr', too, instead of, 'No bother!'

I had a Canadian friend over a few months ago and we went into a pub for a few minutes to get directions - honest!  When we came out again he admitted that he hadn't understood three quarters of what had been said, including what I'd been sayin'!

We also have this ability in B'lfaast to talk for quite a while without saying very much.  For example, 'There y'are, now! Where are ye?'  Or, 'I say, like, y'know what a mean, like? Ye know?'  Or we relate a conversation, 'So, I says ta the brorr, like, 'Y'know, like, what are yez gonna do, like? Y'know?''  And, like our cousins over in Scotland, we use the word 'wee', meaning small, a lot.  People in the south of Ireland don't say, 'wee' at all!

I remember being over in Liverpool, in England - years ago, now - and a English girl asked me if would like sugar in my tea? I said, 'Aye, one an a wee taste, please.' There was a reasonable silence and then she asked me again if I would like sugar!

When ye go to pay for yer petrol in the garage, the wee girl'll always say, 'Put yer wee number in, love.' And then, 'Take yer wee card out, now'. It's quite normal for a man to say to a woman who's a complete stranger to him, 'Ach, are y'all right there, love?' We tend to be much more familiar with strangers than say, English, or German, people. The person behind the counter'll say, 'Are ye gettin' there, love?' Or, 'Are y'all right, now, dear?'

Another thing we do quite well, is sarcasm. When we're a bit sceptical about something we've been told, we'll say, 'Aye, right!' - meaning we don't think it's right, at all! And the word, 'right' has other uses. We'll say, 'It's right'n' warm in here', or, 'It's brave'n' cold, today, now', both words meaning, 'quite'.

If the weather's good we'll say, 'That's a right sort of a day, now', or, if someone's got a new car, we'll say, 'That's a brave dacent motther yer drivin', now?'. Oh, yeah, we drink 'watther', spread 'butther' on our toast and when we've been sick we'll, hopefully, then get 'betther' again.

I mean, people have actually written whole series of books about how we talk in Belfast - and Northern Ireland in general. We'll educate yez a wee bit more in the next show. 'All right, now?'


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