Accents and Slang 101

Before “jumping across the pond” to this “island” I studied up on “me slang” and Irish sayings. Almost everything I hear in context, I can understand. But occasionally my boss will mumble a few words and laugh, or Val and Kieran will ask me a question and I’ll think it was a statement. Even Sean and Eve’s vernacular has a certain twist that I don’t always fully comprehend.

Here are a few of the foreign words I have come across:

1) Runners or sometimes sneakers – no such thing as tennis shoes
2) Crisps – American chips, and the northern Dublin accent for this is “crips”
3) Fiver or Tener – 5 Euros or 10 Euros
4) Cinema – the movies
5) Holiday – vacation
6) University – never college
7) Dubs – Dubliners
8) Ganglands – term for gangs
9) Dort – the way that the wealthy southern Dubliners say “Dart.” This is the transportation system that links many of the surrounding suburbs.
10)Hoover – vacuum cleaner, even if it’s not a Hoover Vacuum

Some saying to remember:

1) “Them knackers ‘il knife ya” – translated: Those people will pull a knife on you! Val said this to me when she was talking about the Travelers, or people who roam the country in trailers and tents. They are like modern day gypsies and are portrayed in the movie “Snatch.”

2) “Cheers” – This is said ALL the time. When people are hanging up the phone, when you give someone an answer, as a replacement for “thanks,” when drinking a drink, when saying goodbye; everything!

3) “God Bless” – This is also said in parting or when hanging up the phone all the time, even by non-religious people.

4) “Needle on the sky” – This is a slang expression Dubliners use when describing the Spire. This millennium statue literally looks like a pointy piece of medal. But it is right in the middle of O’Connell Street, which reminds me of Times Square. It’s a good place to meet up or to look for if lost.

5) “I’m only slaggin’ ya” – Like saying, I’m just messing with you or just kidding.

6) “Are you for a cuppa?” – Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And tea or more widely used…

7) “With a splash of what you like” – A drink with a shot of your choice of liquor. When it pubs, a lot of the signs list several sodas and juices and then say “with a splash.”

8) “Ya know? Eh? Ya?” – Sentence enders, even when not really asking a question.

9) “You wrecked?” – Are you tired/a mess/ having a crazy day?

10) “Sniffy Liffey” – The Dubliner slang for the River Liffey, which cuts Dublin in two. I’ve only actually smelled something bad once, but it is not the most beautiful color.

11) “Going to the City Centre?” – Are you going near O’Connell Street, the Spire, Grafton Street or Temple Bar? Sometimes Dubs will say “I’m going into town” as well.

Some rhyming slang I have heard:

1) Arabs knees = keys
2) A cock and a hen = ten cent piece
3) Ones and twos - shoes

And finally here are a few ways the Dubliners speak (each county sort of has their own Irish accent):

*There are no “t-h’s.” Everything comes out like a hard “t.” So for example when you are getting two Euros and thirty three cents back, it becomes “two Euros and turty-tree” cents. And a lot of the time the word “the” becomes “ta” or “te.”
*Some Dubs will say “wha? Sea. Shee” Instead of “What? Seat. Sheet.” They leave the final “t” off of words. This can become very confusing and sounds a lot like British cockney to me.