|Source:||A Pocket Guide to Northern Ireland [.mobi (Kindle), .epub (iPad, etc.)]|
|Author:||War and Navy Departments, Washington, D.C.|
THE Ulster accent may at first be hard to understand. The upper-class Irishman speaks like the upper-class Englishman, but the speech of the shop and the farm and the public house is not the speech of England, Scotland, or America.
In its richest form, the Irish version of English is a brogue, and there is a brogue for every county in Ireland, just as we have a Brooklyn accent, a Boston broad “a”, and a Texas drawl. Many of the expressions may strike you as funny; some of them may not be understandable. Remember that many of your expressions will strike the Irishman as funny—even if he is too polite to laugh—and that he has a hard time understanding you too.
The moving pictures have brought some Americanisms to Ireland. You will find that the young people use and understand terms such as “okay,” “oke,” “guy,” and “scram.” But they will also invite you in for “a squib of tea,” and refer to an unmarried man or woman well over 40 as a “boy” or a “girl.” Only married people who have children are called men and women; bachelors and spinsters remain juvenile until the end of their days. You will learn that the word “friend” has a very special meaning. It means a cousin of some degree (a member of the clan) who is about one’s own age. There are obligations, particularly in the rural districts, that go with the relationship; relatives have mutual obligations to help in farm work, to come to the rescue in financial troubles, and to be on hand to assist in such important ceremonies as weddings and funerals.
When an Irishman says: “I am after drinking my beer,” he doesn’t mean he is about to do it or that he wants to do it; he means, quite sensibly, that he has just finished doing it. When he says his wife is a “homely kind of person” he is paying her a compliment; he means not that she is ugly but that she is cozy, kind, and unassuming. He is likely to be vague and optimistic in giving you directions: “Just up the road a bit” may mean a long way, and a “five-minute walk” a jaunt of several miles.
You probably know that English and Irish drivers of motor cars (not “automobiles”) travel on the left side of the road. You may not know that a drug store is a chemist’s shop; that garters are “sock suspenders,” and suspenders “braces” or “galluses”; that a street car is a “tram”; that a “stationer” sells writing materials and newspapers, and a “draper’s shop” clothing.
The Ulsterman will be tolerant about your ignorance of Ireland; it is only fair play to be tolerant about his ignorance of America. If you live in Buffalo and he inquires if you know his uncle in Los Angeles, don’t laugh at him—you’ll pull an equally bad boner about Ireland before the hour is out.
This book comprises a selection of articles from the (British) Army Bureau of Current Affairs' WAR and CURRENT AFFAIRS pamphlets, all relating to America and, more particularly, to the relationship between the British and Americans during the Second World War.
"Our enemies are trying to make trouble between the British and the Americans during the war; they are certain to try it after they have been defeated, in the hope of escaping once more from the consequences of their crimes against humanity. It is our business to understand and work with the United States now and in peace-time; that means for us all at least to like and understand the Americans we meet."