Ireland, like any country or region, has a lot of terminology and slang that I’ve been trying to navigate. Understanding what people are talking about hasn’t been nearly as challenge as understanding whether or not I should use the local phrases or not. I’m constantly asking myself “Would it be weird if I said it that way?”
This has been particularly prevalent with the Euro Cup going on right now and Ireland advancing to the Round of 16. Everyone’s talking about it at the office. So do I refer to it as soccer as I’m used to, or do I call it football as the rest of the people in the conversation do? If I call it football, I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to hard to fit in, but the more that I’m involved with the conversations it starts to feel like what I should call it. Then it starts to feel even weirder when I start qualifying normal football as “American Football”. WHO AM I?
It moves beyond sports, too. I’m not sure whether to say “I’ve got it sorted” (Irish) or “I’ve got it sorted out.” (American). This is coming up a lot with getting my immigration paperwork and housing arranged. Another one that’s come up is “half eight” rather than 8:30. This one’s a bit easier to adopt.
Here’s some other Irish slang I’ve come across:
- Slaggin’ - making fun, teasing. I caught on to this one pretty quickly. The Irish are very good at slaggin on ya.
- Craic - pronounced “crack”. Good time; fun. “Where’s the craic?” or “It was good craic”
- Gas - I’m not 100% sure on this one yet. It seems like it’s used for anything that’s cool, funny, great. Usually in response to something: “That’s gas!” or “It was gas!” I don’t think I’ll be adding this one to my vocabulary anytime soon, but we’ll see.
- Your man - This one is really confusing. It basically means anyone (sometimes anything). “Your man at the store” meaning the clerk. It doesn’t have to refer to a male either. It’s just anyone. I’ve also heard “Ikea is your only man.” (In response to a question about where to get homewares). “Your one” is also common, sort of the same thing, but with an object.
- Grand - This one isn’t really hard to understand, but it’s used A LOT. For example, I was in a lady’s way in the store accidentally the other day. I apologized, and she replied “Oh, you’re grand!” Meaning no worries or it’s fine.
- Are you ok there? - This one got me. I went out to dinner alone and the hostess asked “Are you ok?” and I’m thinking “Ok, eating dinner alone isn’t that pathetic is it??” Apparently this phrase is more like “How can I help you?” So turns out she wasn’t really taking pity on my lonely dinner, she just wanted to get me a table.
Hopefully hearing these will start to come more naturally to me as I get settled in, but I think I’ll still feel awkward saying these phrases myself. Only time will tell, I suppose.