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Things Irish people say but don’t mean

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By Anne Canaveera / November 24, 2015

When I came to Ireland, I had to get used to the way Irish people spoke. It wasn’t so much what they said, but more what they meant that I didn’t always understand.

If you take their words literally, you can feel confused or even upset sometimes. Irish people seem to have the ability to say things but don’t really mean them. And don’t even get me started on saying the complete opposite of what they think (that could be a whole new post!)

Here are a few examples:

“How are you?” / “How’s things?” / “What’s the Story ?”

The truth is, it’s just politeness and Irish people are not really waiting for an answer. Sometimes they can ask “How are you?” while passing you by and just keep on walking without waiting for any acknowledgement on your part.

Now, If you REALLY want to answer, the main thing to remember is to stay vague. So the best answers in that case are:

– How are you ? Not too bad / Grand / Not a bother

– What’s the story ? Not much

See you later

In fact, there’s little chance you’ll see them later. Most of the time it would be the following day or week, or never, who knows… I’m definitely guilty of this one. I think I said it to customers I had never seen before (and obviously never saw later or after…).

Come here to me!

Let’s get this straight: DON’T GO THERE. Whoever is saying that doesn’t want you to physically go up to him/her. It’s just a way of saying “I have to tell you something”. Very strange isn’t it? I really don’t know where this expression comes from, but I definitely didn’t learn that one at school.

F*ck off!

Everyone knows what it means of course, but sometimes it’s the way it’s said and it also depends on the context. Let’s take a simple example:

– Did you hear Paddy just won the lotto ?

– F*ck off!

Translation:  Really ? Are you serious ?

To go ” for one”

Yeah, nobody will be fooled by that one. Except me, when I still  believe my husband wants to go to the pub “for one”, and we end up staying until it closes… Irish people always say they go “for one”, but they never drink just “one”. It wouldn’t be very Irish after all…

It’s down the road / up the road / around the corner

Yes… It could be 10 miles away it would still be down the road. I live very close to the beach, and what I have to say is: “The sea is *literally* down the road from my house.” Just so they know it’s not that far away…
I wasn’t taught those things at school but I guess it’s all part of the joys of discovering a new culture. And after so many years, I use most of them myself !

 

Photo credit: Flickr

About the author

Anne Canaveera


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