Irish Vernacular

My semester with Champlain Abroad Dublin is rapidly coming to an end. It has gone by way too fast and I’ve had such a fantastic experience. I have learned so much and being in Ireland has allowed me to see amazing things, both on the island and in the whole of Europe. I’ve been so lucky.

One thing I’m also very happy about is a set of souvenirs that I’ve picked along the way during my time here. Even better, these things aren’t something to try to fit into my already-full suitcase! Over the course of my semester abroad, there are a few select Irish words and phrases that my friends and I will definitely be adding to our vocabulary.

Feck

Finals Work to Do

I’ve got so much fecking work to do for finals.

This one is really interesting. It bears a similar usage to a similarly spelled curse word, yet does not share the strong negative connotation. In fact, it’s a fairly neutral/mild word. One professor even told me it’s the kind of word his sister uses in front of her young children.

Having a socially appropriate way to add emphasis to a word or sentence, in the way people often do with feck’s counterpart, is not only fascinating, it’s also fairly handy. Maybe not for everyday use, but feck will definitely be kept in my repertoire of Irish words to use in the future.

Irish Time

Irish Time Map

It should take about ten minutes to cross this.

Okay, this isn’t exactly a singular phrase, but more of a lifestyle. Similar to the stereotype of “Hawaiian time,” an Irish five minutes could be anywhere from three to thirty minutes. This method of time management, as far as I’ve experienced it, is especially used when giving directions. Someone operating on Irish Time might tell you it’s about a five-minute walk, you may be walking closer fifteen. The good rule of thumb that I’ve learned is to consider for up to a ten-minute leeway. That way, you can always adjust how fast you have to walk if you’re in a hurry.

But the truth is, you don’t need to be in a hurry all that often. Operating on a schedule like this is a good way to live. Because it means your not spending too much time stressing about where you’re going and when you’re going to get there. I fully intend to implement Irish Time into my routine and schedule.

I’m not saying I’m going to start being late everywhere or stop keeping track of time completely. However, I think taking a more relaxed, easy-going attitude towards getting places is a good thing. There really is no need to be so stressed about getting places all of the time. It’s nice to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey.

 

Come here to me.

Come here to me example

“Come here to me, I have a story to tell you.”

This one is fairly straightforward. It basically means “come over here.” But it can also be applied to mean “listen to me,” as in if you’re about to start a story. This applies even if the person is already right next to you.

I’m not really sure why I like this phrase so much, maybe because it just has such a nice ring to it. This one has actually already taken root in our apartment, though, so I can say for sure that I’m going to be using it for a long time. Saying, “come here to me,” is just such a nice and friendly-sounding way of getting someone’s attention.

 

JesusMaryAndJoseph

Finals Work to Do

JesusMaryAndJosef, I’ve got so much work to do for finals.

Saying the full list of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is an exclamation, usually expressing either frustration or surprise. Only, it’s not really said in a list like that, so much as it is as a single word: JesusMaryAndJoseph.

This is fairly similar to the way an American might say “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” as an exclamation, only it’s usually not so hostile and it’s also not considered to be quite so explicit. If you’re out with friends and you lose track of time, you might say something like, “JesusMaryandJoseph, when did it get so late? I’ve got to get home.”

Again, I just feel like this has such a nice sound to it. The names fit so nicely together in a single exclamatory word, but as I said before, it’s the kind of word you speak and not shout.

Craic

Guinness Storehouse Craic

Pints at the Guinness Storehouse is great craic.

I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post, but this is one of my favorite Irish expressions. It’s just so versatile. You can find a way to fit it into pretty much any conversation. Plus, it’s a very positive word; that’s basically what it means. The word “craic” denotes recreation, or really just anything that’s fun.

For example: “I had great craic in Dublin during my semester abroad.”

However, it can also be used as a form of greeting. So, instead of asking someone how they’re doing, you could as them, “How’s the craic?” or “What’s the craic?”

This word is just infectious. Once you’ve heard it used casually a few times, you’ll find it slipping into your own conversations. I think I can safely say that nearly everyone studying abroad here will say this word at least once they get back to the States. I know I definitely will.

Ben Pitt
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2015
Champlain College Professional Writing Major
Class of 2016

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