How To Speak Fluent Norn Iron; Part Three

One of the easiest ways to find out if some really is from Ireland is to ask him to say ‘film’. I’ve never come across an Irishman that can pronounce that word correctly. I *know* it is only four letters and it should be straight forward but every Irishman mangles that word, most times it’s ‘fil-lum’ or ‘fil-lim’ and as hard as we try we just can’t do ‘film’ in one short word. In twenty plus years living in London it’s the one word that I have to admit defeat over. I’ve tried and tried but it’s like our mouths are just not genetically designed to say ‘film’, really I have to contort my gob in unnatural ways to even attempt it and it’s still isn’t right, friends have spent entire evenings with me trying to get me to say ‘fim’ and ‘fil’ and ‘lm’, no probs but put all those letters into ‘film’ and it all falls apart and they all look at me like I’m doing it on purpose.

This isn’t really much of a problem if you are an Irishman living in the States as in the States you don’t say ‘lets hit the flicks to catch a film”, you tend to use the word ‘movie’ over there and with the rise of digital photography, going to Boots The Chemist to get some film has become a thing of the past. However, we rarely use the word ‘movie’ in Ireland, it’s much more normal to say ‘film’ so I’d say to friends here in London “Lets go to Fulum (Fulham) to see a filum” and they’d all fall about the floor laughing (buggers).

I read some research that said communities use accents, phrases and different expressions/dialect to connect with their clan – especially when the community is hit suddenly by an influx of outsiders, asking for something in a shop using the local expression is a way of saying to the shopkeeper that it’s all right mate, I’m one of you, not one of those grockles (tourists). There’s not that many Norn Irish in Tooting, lots of Asian’s so the opportunities are rare for me to speak the old lingo but when I find someone else from Northern Beirut then we ‘rabbit on two’ta’la dozen’, we speak very fast at home, machine gun speed and I’ve slowed down a fair wee bit since coming to London but I had to go home in May for a while, and when I arrived back in London it was back to square one, had to slow slow slowww down my speech again as no-one here could understand me..

We also pronounce some words the same when they should sound differently, not like ‘there’ and ‘their’ but the following gives us Norn Irish Git trouble;

tower and tar
fair and fur
her and hair
poor and pour and pore

I’d say “that’s not fair” (or so I thought) and everyone would look puzzled, “what’s not fur?” or go to the Off License and ask for “a bottle of Black Tower” and they’d say “Black Tar?”

and apparently the word ‘garage’ is pronounced gar (as in car)- raj (as in Indian Raj).

But mangling the English language is not an exclusive talent, when I arrived in London the one thing I did notice and irked me somewhat was how Londoners say ‘three’, they say one, two, ‘tree’, and that threw me, I thought it was the Irish that were meant to say ‘tree’ instead of ‘three’ but that’s only the southern Irish, up north we pronounce ‘three’ proper and I’d spend ages pulling folk up about how they ‘spake’ the Queens English, the irony of this Norn Irish Git telling English how to speak their own language was not lost on me (or ‘dem). :p

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