Definitively Not( James )


While Ireland’s Gaeilge is the national and official language of the Republic of Ireland, many regions of Ireland speak a dialect of English: Hiberno-English, or Irish English. Even within this dialect there’s a number of differences regionally, which have developed over hundreds of years.

English has been pushing out Gaeilge in Ireland for centuries. Originally brought to Ireland in the 12th century via the Norman Invasion, the Tudor conquest led to English speaking immigrants flooding Ireland, and a general suppresion of the Irish language. More recently, only 4% of surveyed Irish speakers speak Gaelige in their daily life. Otherwise, English is the predominant language of the land.

While the English attempted suppress anything other than the traditional English at the time, there’s been a number of differences that have grown to make Irish English unique across the gamut - grammar, vocabulary, and phonetics, Much of this is holdover from Gaelige, which makes it doubly interesting.

One particularly interesting grammatical difference is that “yes” and “no” are far less frequently used. For example, “You speak with an Irish dialect?” would be responded with “I do” instead of “Yes”. Much of this is due to the Irish language lacking “yes” or “no” as vocabulary. Instead, the verb is negated and responded with.

Hiberno-English pulls a number of words from Gaeilge as loan-words, as well as some that are merely derived from the national language. “Sláinte!” is one that you might hear in a pub, meaning “(To your) Health!” And if you’re nervous, you might “fooster” - to fidget - derived from the Gaeilge word “Fústar”. In other cases, Hiberno-English has vocabulary that is less clearly historied - such as when you’ve really broken something? It’s “banjaxed”.

The phonology of Hiberno-English is probably what differs the most between the regions. I’ll be frank - I’m not a phonetics expert, and every paper I’ve read on this really goes all out on that. A few examples, however, are words like “kite” that to American ears would sound like “koyt”, “mouth” which would be closer to “meh-ooth” or “maith”, and “about” would be close to “a boat”.

Now don’t be a lúdramán, and give céad míle fáilte when yer with the Irish, will you? They do be thinking yer an eejit if ya talk like this, yeah?