How To Speak Fluent Norn Iron.

It’s fascinating how we speak English on both sides of the pond but the interpretation can be so different. A few years ago I had to go to a conference in Dallas and during a lull in the proceedings I was asked what was a typical Sunday afternoon like in Northern Ireland (usually pronounced Norn Iron). I replied innocently “Well, you gather the whole family around, Granny, Kids, Mum, Dad and we all share a joint…and have a nice relaxing afternoon..” Everyone went “WHAT?” and I said “well, yes, of course, even Granny likes to suck on a bit of a joint occasionally, never done her any harm…”

It seems in America a joint doesn’t mean a joint of meat…nor does ‘rubber’ mean something you give your kids before they go to school, they use ‘erasures’, we call pants trousers and for us pants are underwear only, not too sure about knickers as that’s ladies only..

So it occurred to me that perhaps one or two of you might one day find yourselves in Norn Iron and wish to pass yourselves off as natives and avoid making some major faux pas, so I thought I might pass on the following expressions for you to drop innocently into conversations.. Of course you canny say any expression in monotone, the Irish accent is very commonly described as lyrical. What that really means is that a typical sentence sounds more musical and sing-songy than American English, you have to practice saying them with a swing pitch and ALWAYS end your sentences with the pitch swinging upwards..

Lesson One.

Do you think I came up the Lagan in a soapy bubble? This means do you think I was born yesterday, not entirely sure of the origins of this but there is some connection with Moses in his basket.

Have you been out raking the roads all night long? You can’t crawl out of bed in the morning, your head hurts and your guts rot because you have been out on the piss all night long, your Ma will come in and ask you this…and not with a lot of sympathy..as she tosses you out of bed..

Boggin’, Mingin’, Mankin’. Messy and horrible, as in, I’m not going to use that bath, it’s boggin (as in bog) or my socks are really mankin; ie they smell so much that guys in Radioactive Protection Suits have come along to remove them…

I’m nipping out to get me messages… Not a Norn Iron way of reading your email from an Internet Cafe but me Ma would say this to me as a child, it means she’s nipping out to the shop to get her groceries.. I think this came from the habit of writing shopping lists and the list looked like messages..

Yer man.. Not YOUR man or any ones man for that matter, just some guy, as in ‘Look at yer man staggering down the street, he’s had a skinful, so he has” and incidentally, you should always add a “so he did” or “so he has” or “so I will” or “so I am” onto the end of all sentences as it’s the law in Norn Iron – so it is.

The dog’s bollocks (or the mutts nuts). Brilliant, fantastic, excellent, great…why the dogs bollocks are so great is a mystery but they must be because even the Queens corgis lick theirs all the time.

Are you all red up? meaning have you finished your work, usually it comes from your Ma after you’ve taken all morning to tidy up your room..

The suns splitting the tree’s. It’s sunny, at least that’s what’s implied. Usually, it must be said, it’s given as a response to get rid of you so your Ma can have some peace and quiet, it could be bucketing down and your Ma would still say the sun was splitting the tree’s to get rid of you..

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