Friday, March 30, 2007

Irish Words

It's the ordinary language that makes me happy in Ireland. I used to know an Irishman who would say 'Anything strange?' instead of the bland English 'Any news?' Hearing the latter, my mind goes black; the former sends my entire life flashing before my eyes. Anything strange? Yes, everything. And, as I left yesterday, one of my hosts said, 'Safe home.'


  1. Well, did you enjoy your visit to dear, old Dublin? I hope so. I heard a few minutes of your interview on RTE radio on Wednesday morning. I couldn't listen to it all, as you came on just as I pulled into a parking spot with my two sprogs in the back and a doctor's appointment pending. I plied them with snacks to buy some time, but I had to go. The skinny guy, Ryan, sounded a little hostile. Was he? Not overly fond of the chap, to be honest. It's obvious that he thinks he's the smartest, funiest guy on radio. At least, that's the way he comes across.

  2. Not wildly hostile, Neil, just a little excitable and he tried to cover too many subjects. Dear old Dublin was, as ever, fab.

  3. 'Anything strange' and 'safe home' very ordinary usage all right. As I tried to describe before, it's the Celtic sap flowing through the filter of the English language. I'm struggling to think of other examples but I spose I'm too close to the language to notice. My grandfather occasionally would express indignation with the charming, 'Shit on yeh,' though I'm not sure that quite counts. My grandmother's occcasional phrase regarding said grandfather was, 'You can take the man out of the bog, but you can't take the bog out of the man.'

  4. On a very related issue, have you read The Poor Mouth by Flann O Brien, or perhaps his greatest work, At Swim Two Birds, Bryan? Joyce described him as a genius possessed of the true comic spirit, which would be hard to disagree with.

  5. I have, Andrew. A pint of porter, as I recall, is your only man.

  6. My thoughts about Dublin are of walking aimlessly about the greyish afternoon streets in that delicious fuggy daze brought on by two or three lunchtime pints of Guinness, thinking romantic Joycean thoughts about fried offal and humid nightblue fruit. I don't generally go in for daytime boozing but in Dublin it seems the bestest thing.

  7. Have The Poor Mouth open in front of me for the first time in a while....
    "I cannot truly remember either the day I was born or the first six months I spent in the world. Doubtless, however, I was alive at that time although I have no memory of it, because I should not exist now if I were not there then and to the human being, as well as to every other living creature, sense comes gradually."

    I'm reminded a little of the wondrous writings here of Amanda Marcotte, and possibly also the Professional Philosopher.

    Just glancing at the next page and if I'm not careful I'd end up quoting the whole book, but a thousand apologies for I can't resist,
    "Isn't it the bad sign that the hens are in the nettles?"

    Wisdom unsurpassed.

  8. The Professional PhilosopherMarch 30, 2007 4:50 pm

    I admit to being well impressed with the stuff about being alive during a period of which he has no empirical knowledge, and this is genuinely thought-provoking; is it enough to assume one's birth and very early life merely on the basis of one's present existence? I admit, however, to finding the stuff about the hens in the nettles to be bordering on the superstitious. In what sense is this to be perceived as the bad sign?

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