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Irish Language and Slang Learned by a CEA MOJO

March 28, 2013
by CEA MOJO
Some students may choose an English speaking country like Ireland for a more convenient and simple study abroad experience. Little do they know, Irish dialect is full of slang that’s probably not used in everyday life at home. Also, the ancient language of Gaelic is often used in daily speech, on street signs, and sometimes the only language spoken in particular areas of Ireland. It’s exciting to learn these expressions and terms along the way, I’ve had great experiences of miscommunication and fun learning the new words that are part of everyday life here in Ireland. Here’s a list of a few commonly used words and Irish expressions, and some of my Irish roommates helped me out in showing how they’re used! 



Craic: (pronounced “crack”) can mean a variety of things and is probably the most commonly used term on this list. It generally means ‘fun’, but it can also be used in a sentence like, “what’s the craic?” as in, “what’s up?” Although it may sounds surprising at first, everyone uses it to define a good time. 
“Sure, Paddy’s day was great craic!”
 
Grand: This can be simply used to mean ‘good’, or ‘great’. 
“That’s grand”
 
Yoke: Just describes an item, or thing. If someone points to an object like a fork, they might ask for that yoke, or thing. 
“That yoke over there.”
 
Your One: This one was so difficult to get used to, but often used! Many people will say, “Your man”, or, “Your one” and that just means anyone in particular. Not the person you’re dating, or one of your friends, but this could refer to any subject the person is talking about, you don’t even have to know them. 
“Did you see your man over there?”
 
Slagging: I was really confused after first hearing this one, when someone is joking with you or being sarcastic, they’re ‘slagging’ you. Kind of like our ‘I’m just joshing with you’, or maybe that’s just a Wisconsin thing?
“I was only slagging you” 
 
Beure: Describes a person that is very attractive or ‘hot’. If you’re interested in someone, you might call them a beure. This also could be just a friendly greeting to brighten someone’s day.
“Anna you’re a beure”
 
Class: This is sometimes used in the states as well, but very common here to describe something great or over-the-top. It’s a positive description of an event, person, place and everything in-between.
“That was pure class”
 
Eejit: A term that’s used to describe someone being silly or stupid. Sometimes people will refer to themselves as an eejit if they’ve done something wrong, but more often used to describe a group of Irish boys. 
“Jennie is an eejit”
 
Chips: Even after two months of living in Ireland, I’m still getting used to calling french fries ‘chips’. Ireland is famous for their potatoes, and they don’t refer to those delicious fried wedges as ‘french fries’. A great and famous dish here is fish & chips. If you’re ever in Galway, try out Mc Donagh’s on Quay Street (also, “Quay” is pronounced like “Key”!). 
“I ordered some chips and sausage”
 
Shift: This word is used to describe kissing. After a night out, you’ll often be asked if you shifted, or if you got the shift. Although it was a surprising term to here at first, you’ll get used to hearing it around now and then! 
“Did you shift last night?”
 
Sure Look It: This phrase pretty much means what it looks like, but it’s an expression not often heard in the states. Irish people will use it just to simply describe something that is, or to confirm a statement.
“Sure look it, it was a grand day”
 
Savage: An equivalent to “awesome” or “great” in the States. 
“Last night was savage!”
 
Gaelic/Irish
 
Amy is ainm dom (Amy is my name): Just an easy way to introduce yourself if you run into anyone speaking Irish! For some, Irish is their first language and they appreciate it if you’re able to say anything in Irish, so they know you’re open and trying. 
 
Conas ata tu? (How are you?)
 
Go raibh maith agat (Thank you): This is a great example of how Irish may not sound like how it looks. The ‘bh’ makes a ‘v’ sounds. This is very common for many Irish names and it’s a fun way to learn a new language! 
 
Anna Toman is the CEA Spring 2013 MOJO in Galway, Ireland

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