While the people in Northern Ireland speak the Queen’s English, they have a very special dialect. It is so special that I have chosen to write it all down, just in case you decide to visit this amazing wee country. Imagine my day of discovery.
The first thing you should know is everything is ‚wee’. If you have some friends and you are meeting for a coffee, you aren’t really meeting for a coffee, you’re meeting for a wee coffee and a scone. If you are super lucky, you might even get a ‘gravy ring’! As we all know, spillages happen in coffee shops all the time. What happens next? Well naturally you would go and report the mishap to the staff there. What they say might confuse you. You would hear something along the lines of ‚No Baw’. This is very common and it simply means no bother or no problems. After the coffee shop, you go and meet your friends for a day out shopping. You walk to the meeting point and your friends call over ’bout ye!’. This is a short and friendly way of asking ‚what about you’ loosely translated as how are you. The conversation turns to cars and you overhear your friends chatting about their car. Billy says to Michael that his car is ‚banjaxed!’, Michael exclaims ‚boys a dear‚. His car needs a new battery and an oil change and apparently, it’s ‚while dear’. This might sound exotic but it’s really very simple. Billy’s car is broken and Michael says it is rather expensive. Your other friend arrives and says to you all ‚no worries lads, I’ll run ye over!‚ this means he is offering to bring you there in his car. In the car, you’re all discussing the price of the car parts needed to fix Billy’s car and Michael says ‚the price a thon’s terra’. Thon means that and terra can be understood as terrible. They chat a wee bit more and finally you all arrive at the shopping centre. Now you might be a little hungry and luckily in a shopping centre you are catered for well. You could choose ‚spuds’ or ‚champ’ if you fancy something hearty or maybe just stop for a wee ‚poke’.
My favourite has always been a filled soda. Billy is still understandably wound up to high doh about his car, so you all decide to take him shopping for some new gutties and while you’re having a hoke around the bargain bin at TK Maxx you find the perfect pair. Billy thinks the gutties are great but Sammy comments that they are wick and asks you why yous are faffin around in the shops when there’s ‚hussies to be pulled the night’. I was a bit confused but a wee bit of explaining, I understood we were going to go to a pub that evening. So while we were in the clothes shop, Sammy suggested I bought a better coat. When I asked why he thought so he replied that it was going to be baltic tonight and wearing the one I had with me, I would be ‘foundered’. Instead of asking this time, I just nodded and went with the flow. We then left the shopping centre, equipped with our new clothes and made our way to Sammy’s car. He drove like a buck eegit and we nearly didn’t make it, blasting past the peelers all the way. We were all worried that he was lost but in the end he just drove up to the front door of the pub, put the car in park and said ‚ at’s us nai’.
But truthfully, the only way you will ever get the full effect of this wonderful dialect is to go there and stay for a while. You will love it and all the people will love your attempts to copy the language.
Wee – Means small, cute, dainty, fragile.
Gravy ring – Small ring shaped doughnut covered in chocolate and sprinkles
No Baw – No problems, no bother
Bout ye! – What about you, how are you, what’s new
Banjaxed – broken, broken down cars, broken engines / motors.
Boys a dear – wow, oh dear, oh my word, golly gosh
While dear – very expensive, wildly dear, highly priced
I’ll run ye over – to give someone a lift, bring them somewhere in your car
Thon – informal way of saying that
Terra – terrible
Spuds – potatoes
Champ – mashed potato with chives
Poke – small waffle with ice cream in it
Wound up to high doh – it means someone has been aggravated a lot and is upset because of it
gutties – training shoes i.e. Nikes, Adidas type shoes
hoke around – looking for something, searching
wick – something is not great, looks odd
faffin – messing around, loitering without intent
hussies – young ladies on a night out
on the pull – searching for a date, new boyfriend or girlfriend
Baltic – means something is very cold, like the ocean
Foundered – really cold, shivering from weather
Buck eegit – a very silly person, slang for idiot
Blasting past – driving very quickly, like a rocket
The peelers – informal way of saying the police
At’s us nai – one of the funniest ways of saying that’s us now, meaning we have finished what we set out to achieve for this day.