It’s a known fact immigrating to the U.S., Canada or Australia from Ireland has one clear advantage; both countries speak English. Although setting up home in a beautiful European country like France or Italy has its scenic advantages, the language proves to be an extensive barrier.
So the Irish tend to flock to places where they will be understood. Sounds like a plan! It is, until they disembark off a plane from Ireland and discover the natives of the country they just landed in have major trouble understanding what they are saying!
The following are real life examples of everyday words and phrases used by Irish people from across Ireland in conversations; words and phrases that have totally different meanings in countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia:
Jimmy in the Big Apple
Jimmy, a young buckoo (a young man) from Castleisland, County Kerry, arrives in New York. It’s his first night on the town with some of his American mates.
As they walk through the overpopulated streets of Manhattan, Jimmy, out of the corner of his eye, spots a woman he thinks is dressed “inappropriately”.
The Kerry man turns to his new friends and says, “Watch you wan la.” Jimmy’s American friends look at him confused. They look at each other to see if either of them understood this strapping (fine) young lad.
Jimmy had to spend the next 10 minutes trying to explain to them that “Watch your wan la” literally meant, “Look at the woman there.”
Jimmy’s version, “Watch your wan la,” had an attitude about it, an attitude that stated the woman was a mess, or he didn’t approve of her attire, or the woman was doing something he didn’t like. So “WATCH YOUR WAN LA,” can be used as a snide remark about someone (if it was a man it would say, “Watch your man la.”
Roisin in Vancouver
Roisin, a County Roscommon girl who just arrived in Vancouver, Canada, had a near run in with a woman she worked with in an ice-cream parlor on her very first day.
Roisin’s colleague was a mature Canadian who had been working in said ice cream parlor for a lengthy number of years. On her first day Roisin thought one of her colleague’s stories was amusing. Trying to pay her a compliment, Roisin said in response to the story, “You’re gas.”
Ice-cream parlor lady threw Roisin the eye.
Unsure whey she was getting such a dirty look from her friend, Roisin asked her did she say something to offend her. The colleague just walked away.
Later that afternoon Roisin discovered the woman thought Roisin was comparing her story to Gas, as in smelly and gross and full of s***.
Roisin quickly explained that in Ireland, “YOU’RE GAS" means, “you are funny.” All was resolved when the misunderstanding was cleared up.
Tom down under
Tom, from a rural part of County Mayo, during his first few weeks in Sydney, Australia, thought the folks were somewhat rude. Every time Tom asked them how they were doing, they would never respond. It took Tom several weeks to realize the question he put to them, “HOW’S SHE CUTTIN” (literally translated as how are you doing to either a male or female) was not being understood by the Australians. One girl finally asked Tom, “Who is the she you are referring to and what was she supposed to be cutting?”
Deirdre on 34th Street
Deirdre, a not so young woman from County Dublin was visiting her friends in New York. Deirdre, when asked what she thought of the Empire State Building, told her American friends it was "DYNAMITE.”
They asked her to repeat it again. She did. They were clueless to her meaning.
In Ireland dynamite can be used to either a) blow up something or b) to describe something as brilliant, wonderful, fantastic. Deirdre had no plans on her vacation to blow anything up. She simply meant the Empire State Building was “awesome”
Larry in beantown
Larry, a handsome young fella from Cork City had been in Boston only a few weeks when he agreed to go on a blind date. The pair arranged to meet at a bar at 10p.m. on Saturday night. However, the girl was a no show.
Bummed, Larry text his American friends the following, “I got a fifty.”
What Larry meant: he was stood up (as in only 50 percent of the couple was present).
Larry’s friends thought his new woman paid him $50 to leave her alone! Larry was quick never to use that phrase again.