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Yet more Irish idioms

11 February, 2012

I’ve been living here for over three years now, and I’m still occasionally surprised by unfamiliar idioms.

British: “Yes you are!” “No I’m not!”

Irish: “Yes you are!” “No I amn’t!”

British: “It opens on Sunday? It used not to.”

Irish: “It opens on Sunday? It usen’t to.”

Hysterical laughter* the first time I heard “amn’t”, not because it is intrinsically funny, but because it revealed a gap in my language that I hadn’t been aware of. Brits, we have misplaced some perfectly logical contractions! Why do we have “isn’t” and “aren’t” (and indeed “hadn’t”), but not “amn’t” or “usen’t”, both of which are in occasional but unremarkable use in Ireland?

British: “Cups go in the cupboard.”

Irish: “Cups go in the press.”

British: “Towels go in the airing cupboard.”

Irish: “Towels go in the hot press.”

Irish houses may or may not also feature a clothes press** (wardrobe); I’m not too sure about that one. To my great disappointment, the fridge is not known as a cold press, and suggesting this to Irish people is met with sad puzzlement (and also arguments that the hot press is generally more hot than it is airy, and contains no cups).

For reasons that are probably only funny to the Irish, Hot Press is also a music magazine.

Irish: “Caurkrbildinawaydere, d’y’know”

The person is from deepest darkest Cork. I cannot help you; good luck.


* sorry Eoghan

** not to be confused with a trouser press.

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