After twenty years, I still can’t understand my husband!

As I write on this blog most nights I realise that at times my Irish/English does not translate. There is an ocean between Ireland and some readers, which can result in minor misunderstandings at times.
This is quite understandable.

But I wonder do you all realise that within our small country of approximately four million people, we have a myriad of regional accents and expressions. There are also major differences in personality traits from county to county.

I was reminded of this yesterday.
We were at our family Sunday lunch. It was a very lively affair, with a lot of “interaction” to say the least. All of it was good natured for a change.
Then my husband said “Is anyone inviting anyone to Christmas dinner?”.
“What”, I thought to myself, “in the name of God is he talking about?”.

There was a puzzled silence and someone said “What?”.
Then we all began speaking, “Oh ye I’m goin to bring a homeless fella”, said one of the girls.“I’m heading to the airport to see if there’s anyone stranded there”, I added.
“What on earth are you talking about?”, asked my son.

I looked at my husband and saw he was looking at my two eldest children aged nineteen and twenty two.
I burst out laughing.
“Oh you mean have they a boyfriend or girlfriend?”, I said.
He smiled looking in their direction, “Well, have you?”.

As they confirmed they would definitely not be bringing anyone to dinner, I began to think.
People in Cork, speak so differently to those from Dublin.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/2444500954/">infomatique</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

A Dubliner would have asked them straight up.

It reminded me of when I met my husband first.
We were on holidays in Cyprus. With him was his brother, who at times I could not understand at all.
Even though I knew he was speaking English it sure didn’t sound like it.
On return to Ireland I went back to my job in Dublin, and he returned to Cork.

When he would ring my house phone, my family would shout, “Tric, yer man is on the phone, I think he wants ye, but I haven’t a clue what he’s really sayin”.

I remember my visits to his house. They owned a shop, which was very busy on a Sunday morning. I was happy to help out, but there was one drawback, I did not speak the language.

He came from a small village, and I was quite the novelty. The girl from “the big smoke”. The “Dub”,(spoken as if I came from a faraway land). The queue at my till was always longer than at the other till.
As they would arrive with their goods it was a nightmare. I could definitely hear the “hello” and I’d usually catch “soyerthegirlfriend”, (so yer the girlfriend) but after that I was lost.
I didn’t know if they were speaking to me or asking a question about the groceries.
Somehow I managed but it was not easy.

Within the house it was just as bad. His Mum and Dad spoke at 100 miles an hour.
They also spoke very differently to how I did.
His Mom would say “Tric, comeereiwantye”.(come here I want ye).
I would walk over to her and sit down, not realising that what she meant was “listen to this”.photo credit: iamadonut via photopin cc
Sometimes I would just sit there listening to them speak, nodding my head smiling, until there was silence and I’d blush knowing somewhere in all that talk, something was addressed to me!

Thankfully over time I learned the lingo and nowadays wonder why I had such difficulty.
However my lessons were much needed, as when we married I left my straight talking Dubliners with the flat accent
and moved to the, talk around the houses, Corkonians with the sing song lilt.

For a time I really struggled with the differences.
It was not actually the accent which upset me, but the indirectness of the people.
The first time I really noticed it was at work.

I was nursing at the time and on the ward was an elderly lady. She had numerous children, among them three daughters.
Their mother was recovering from a broken hip.
She was not in need of hospital care but unless she had help at home she would require admission to a nursing home for convalescence care.

At visiting time one afternoon, I asked one of the daughters what was their plan, as we would be looking to discharge their mum within the week. She said that was great news and she would discuss it with her sisters.
That evening another daughter came in and I hoped she would approach me with an update. She didn’t so I raised it with her and she said she hadn’t been speaking with her sister but they would talk about it and let us know.

It went on like this for days.
At all times they said things like “Oh yes nurse, thank you, we are just trying to figure it all out”.
Or “It’ll be great to have her home we’re delighted”.
Yet when I asked who was taking her they’d say, “Ah we’ll get back to ye tomorrow nurse, thanks very much”.

After three days of this I had had enough. I told the other nurses on the ward that we needed to pin them down to an answer.
The others nurses looked at me and then one said, “Oh we’ve sent an application to the nursing home, they haven’t a notion of taking her home”.
I was amazed. Why had her daughters not just said that? I could not understand it.
At the time I was very cross, but now having lived here for over 20 years I understand. It is just their way.

It is in stark contrast to a very similar situation I came across as a student nurse in Dublin.
We were looking after a mother with a very large family of about nine or ten children.
She had been a wonderful character in her day, but sadly had Alzeimers and was very aggressive at times.
Her family visited everyday in shifts.
The day came to discuss her discharge. I spoke to two or three of them together and asked what their plans were.
Would they take her back home or would she be going into a nursing home?
I still remember their answer.
Loudly and with a smile they said, “Ah Jaysus nurse, we all love Ma to bits, but there’s no way any of us are takin her home. She’s murder! Would ye blame us?”.

Decision made in one easy step. The Dublin way!

As the years have passed I don’t usually notice these differences, but at times I do.
Sometimes it makes me laugh other times I despair. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lori_greig/5331407245/">Lori Greig</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

However I married a Corkonian and it was some of these very characteristics which drew me to him.
Hopefully it was my Dublin ways which attracted my husband to me.

I’d ask him if I’m right but I’d never get a straight answer!

photo credit: infomatique via photopin cc
photo credit: iamadonut via photopin cc
photo credit: Lori Greig via photopin cc

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41 thoughts on “After twenty years, I still can’t understand my husband!

  1. I can relate so much to this! My boyfriend is a Dub, I’m a Limerick/Cork hybrid and we live in Roscommon. It’s all very exotic.
    I totally agree on the different senses of humour though! It took us a while to get used to it with each other’s families. He still doesn’t understand my dad. A great read.

    1. Lovely to “meet” you. You really are exotic! I love your title. It reminds me of “Janeymacs” something regularly said by myself. I’ll be over to visit asap, put the kettle on!

      1. You too! I love seeing other Irish people on here. Sure don’t we all know each other really in Ireland? I moved from a tiny village in limerick to here and found out I was replacing a teacher from the same village I came from.
        And they think I talk really fast! It’s all coming out now, like therapy haha!

  2. The Limerick accent, the real inner city Limerick accent is the same, it’s all slang and lingo spoke in high pitched one million words per minute bursts. For a small island we have a lot of accents.

    I have cousins in Kerry with rural Kerry accents mingled with Irish and slang that I can just about interpret, I’m fond of putting on an English accent and telling them ‘Speak the Queens English, my good man and none of that nonsense.’ But not when they have drink taken….I like my front teeth the way they are.

  3. Oh my goodness, I found myself reading this whole post with an Irish accent in my head. I love it. We have the same problems here in the States. I grew up in the South West, deserts and wide open spaces. I find myself living in the South East now, with giant pine trees and lots of greenery. And very very different ways to ask for the same things. It has been a learning experience.

  4. I second what Charlene said. Not only was your writing hilarious, but so was the accent I was trying to incorporate. I love your sense of humor in this. It brought a smile to my face from start to finish.

  5. Bwahahahaha! This had me laughing out loud in a coffee shop. Possibly my favorite of all your posts yet. I could just hear your beautiful Dublin accent in my head the whole time (oddly enough, you sounded just like my lovely Irish friend, Niamh).

    1. 🙂 Some day I’ll have to do an audio so you can all hear me and really perfect the accent. I’d say working off Niamhs is a good start though although my parents come from the North so I have a bit of that in there too.

  6. I call a spade a spade. Life’s too short to faff about trying to make things sound pretty – you often end up giving the opposite message, or get seen as a hypocrite. My grandfather was a Dubliner, and he was as direct as they come 🙂

  7. so funny tric and i completely understand, no pun intended. one of my best friends here is from donegal, and when she leaves me a voicemail i almost always have to call back and say i see you called but have no idea what you said. )

    1. I read this earlier and it’s brought a smile to my face since. My cousin actually commented on how difficult it was for her leaving Donegal and moving to Dublin years ago and It reminded me of your comment. She is from Donegal and lived with girls from Cork.

  8. Oh, I think that’s a great idea. I would love to hear you speak. I love the Irish accent……which one I’m not so sure of now…;) A lovely post with such a warm feel to it. How we can misunderstand each other even in our own countries let alone oceans apart. I know I’ve had a few hiccups here being mis/understood and also mis/understanding. Rich languages. Love it. Look forward to the audio. 🙂 x

    1. I actually lived in Perth for 15 months many years ago, so I think I am amazing at doing the accent. Probably as amazing as you all are at the Irish accent! 🙂

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