Dublin Days: Having the craic without sounding thick

Author: Meg Morrison '13

Meg Morrison

Aw lads, getting used to Irish accents is one thing, but sometimes their unfamiliar slang can make you feel like a right eejit. From telling a friend to “Cop on!” when he’s being thick for asking for a lift to your mate’s gaff, there’s no question that Irish English can sometimes seem like a foreign language.

The most important word to know might be craic. Pronounced “crack,” it means fun, gossip or good conversation. Instead of “What’s up?” you might ask your friends, “What’s the craic?” Other possible greetings include “Hiya!” and “Howya?” From there you can go on to have the bants (banter) or a DMC (deep, meaningful conversation).

You should also know that jumpers are sweaters, presses are cabinets, rashers are bacon and deadly/savage is cool. Mix these up and your Irish friends might slag you. Even if they don’t, you’ll probably be scarlet when you realize your mistake.

The Irish sometimes add -o to various words, but it doesn’t change the meaning. Deffo means definitely and a sambo is a sandwich, but the -o can be added to names as well, as our friend Nicko can confirm.

After that it starts to get more complicated. Jell-O is jelly and comes cubed rather than powdered, jelly is jam and jam is still jam, as far as I know. Gas is petrol, while “That’s gas!” means you find something funny or entertaining.

When it comes to baked goods, all hell breaks loose. When I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, my Irish roommate, Lauren, insisted that they were biscuits and that the soft, flaky things I called biscuits were scones. We agreed that digestives were flat, often covered in chocolate and almost always served with tea, but could never agree on the difference between biscuits and cookies.

And then sometimes a slight change can completely alter the meaning of a phrase. You have the chats with your friends but chat up someone you might like to get the shift with at some point. By the way, getting the shift is kissing, far less scandalous than getting a ride. (If you’re laughed at for asking for a ride rather than a lift, this is why.)

If you find any of this confusing, you’ll know how I felt when I first got to Dublin. And if you understand it all perfectly, all I can say is, “Fair play to ya!”

Meg Morrison ‘13 spent her junior year at Trinity College Dublin through Notre Dame’s Office of International Studies Dublin program. She is the magazine’s summer and fall intern. Contact her at mmorri12@nd.edu