Hiberno English - mylinguisticsstory


Vocabulary Derived From Irish



(from bean s, 'literally 'fairy woman')

* Cant

(from caint) talk

* Colleen

(from ciln) girl (usually Irish)

* Crack

(from craic) fun, a good time. He's good crack.

* Galore

(from go leor) plenty, enough

* Gob

(literally beak) mouth

* Poteen

(from poitn) hooch, bootleg alcoholic drink

* Smashing

(from is maith e sin) that's good

* Smithereens

('from smidirn) little pieces

* Whiskey

(from uisce beatha literally 'water of life')


 Most Hiberno-English dialects are rhotic.

 /t/ is not plosive where it does not occur word-initially; instead, it is often pronounced as a slit fricative [ θ̠]  The distinction between w /w/ and wh /hw/, as in wine vs. whine, is preserved.

 The distinction between /ɒː/ and /oː/ in horse and hoarse is preserved, though not usually in Dublin or Belfast.

 A distinction between [ɛɹ]-[ɪɹ]-[ʌɹ] in herd-bird-curd may be found.

 The vowels in words such as boat and cane are usually monophthongs outside of Dublin: [boːt], and [keːn].

 The /aɪ/ in "night" may be pronounced in a wide variety of ways, e.g. [əɪ], [ɔɪ], [ʌɪ] and [ɑɪ], the latter two being the most common in middle class speech, the former two, in popular speech.

 The /ɔɪ/ in "boy" may be pronounced [ɑːɪ].

 /eɪ/ often becomes /ɛ/ in words such as gave and came (becoming "gev" and "kem").

 /dj/ becomes /dʒ/, e.g. dew/due, duke and duty sound like "jew", "jook" and "jooty".

 /tj/ becomes /tʃ/, e.g. tube is "choob", tune is "choon".

Grammar Derived From Irish

Like other Celtic languages, Irish has no words for "yes" and "no", instead the verb in a question is repeated in an answer. People in Ireland have a tendency to use this pattern of avoiding "yes" or "no" when speaking English:   "Are you finished debugging that software?" "I am." "Is your mobile charged?" "It is." Irish speakers of English use a "does be/do be" (or "bes", although less frequently) construction to indicate this latter continuous present:    "He does be coding every day." "They do be talking on their mobiles a lot." "They bes doing a lot of work at school."

Characteristic expressions

- Arra

which may be translated as "alright, yes/no".

- Come here to me now


Come here and I'll tell ya something

are used to mean "Listen to this" or "I have something to tell you".

- To give out

to somebody is to scold that person.

- Will

is often used where English English would use "shall" ("Will I make us a cup of tea?").

- A soft day:

referring to a rainy day with that particular soft drizzle, and an overcast sky, but relatively bright.

- Fecking

is an all purpose expletive slightly less offensive than the English word fucking. In old Dubliner slang, to feck is also slang for "to steal".

- Yoke

is typically used in place of the word "thing". It is also a slang term for an ecstasy tablet.