One more Irish idiom

31 May, 2011


Source: shop assistants, hoteliers, waitresses and other helpful people you may encounter on a weekend in, say, County Clare.

It is up to you, depending on the context, to figure out whether this means:

“Next, please!”

“What would you like to order?”

“Can I help you?”

“Please enter your PIN.”

“There’s your change…”

“… and your receipt.”

“Here is your hot drink.”

“Here are the keys to your room even though we don’t know your name and you haven’t paid us a cent.”

“Now” punctuates these interactions, demanding your attention, presumably to ensure you don’t wander off halfway through. In extreme cases, it may be the only word spoken throughout the entire transaction. Once you notice this, you can’t stop noticing.


  1. Now, now. Nothing unusual about it.

    • Ah now, that is a subtly different usage 🙂

  2. Hmm. I recently used “Now” in a shop to mean “I hereby present you with the sum of money appropriate for this transaction, thus saving you the hassle of having to tell me what that sum of money is. In showing that I already know what this sum of money is, I am subtly reinforcing the fact that I’m a regular customer here despite the lack of any flicker of recognition on your part. That or I’ve read the price list, but you *should* recognise me”.

    I think I might be from Clare.

    • Thinking about this a little more, there’s another phrase that’s even less logical than the usual “Now”, but still quite frequent. When you come across someone who says “Now then”, in an almost identical manner to just the usual “Now”.

  3. Becky, I believe this is a result of hiberno english, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiberno-English. The remnants of the irish langauge refusing to leave even when translated. 🙂
    Love when people notice these little things!

  4. […] “Now, what day have we here?” […]

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