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Speak My Language
Related to the Queen’s English but very definitely a distinct dialect of its own, fluent Dublinese has a tendency to confuse visitors from Poland, New York and Offaly alike. Don’t despair: you can now learn it in classes! Deadly, wah?
Máire Rowland, 02 Oct 2012
Have you ever been left bemused by the goings-on in Carrickstown? Are you unsure how to respond when you’re greeted at a Dublin bus stop by an individual with a head tilt and a muttered, ‘Staary bud’?
Well, wonder no longer. A group of inner-city Dublin locals are at hand to teach you the ins-and-outs, lilts and rhymes, abbreviations and colloquialosms of this arcane tomgue: stuff, in other words that will never be found in the Oxford English dictionary or uttered by your language teacher.
Part of the programme for The Fringe Festival 2012, My Fair Mot is a theatrical class in Dublinese, taught by proper experts in the field. In an Animal Farm-like reversal of roles, children aged between 11 and 15 from the Whitefriar Community Centre will be standing in front of blackboards imparting their wisdom to eager students.
The classes are designed with a particular emphasis on giving foreigners residing in the city and people from outside Dublin – those who don’t know their ‘bowsie’ from their ‘floosie’! – a grounding in the local dialect. French native Eleonore Nicolas is the brains behind the classes. “Dublin people are welcome of course,” she explains. “But they may have to learn phrases that they already know! That’s why we are promoting the class primarily for foreigners and people from the country.”
The idea for the lessons came about when Eleonore moved to Dublin and began working with children in the Whitefriar community centre.
“I was organising events for the children – but I couldn’t understand what they were saying to me! I’d ask them, ‘Sorry, what did you say?’ and then again and usually by the third time they would give up and go, ‘Aahhh!’ So that made me feel that I wasn’t building a relationship with them and because I am French I was an outsider and I just couldn’t fit in.”
Instead of throwing in the towel, Eleonore began asking the children for their help.
“I started to say, ‘So how do you say this?’, and, ‘What does this mean?’” she explains.” Then they started to teach me and we started to have a fun relationship! Oh so you say, ‘Howaya?’ you don’t say, ‘How are you?’”