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By kennatim

The first time I heard the phrase “your man” was in a phone conversation with my Irish cousin. He was referring to my good friend Luke whom he had met at a Gaelic football game when we had first met as well. I was intrigued by the phrase, mostly because of the distinctly Irish pronunciation: “Yer maan Luke.”

Now most Americans writing about Irish slang would immediately be drawn to the word “craic.” Craic is a word that means fun that can be used in a variety of different contexts: “What’s the craic”= “What’s up,” “Any craic last night?”= “Did you have fun,” etc. Based upon the pronunciation bearing striking similarity to an illegal drug, it is a tough phrase for foreigners to get used to.

To me, “Yer man” embodies Irish culture in a way that “craic” does not. My cousin Joe has been kind enough to take me on a couple trips exploring Ireland. We went up to the North, exploring the still-divided city of Derry and stopping at small towns along the way. A week later we took the long drive south to the Dingle Peninsula and a portion of the Ring of Kerry. This beautiful area of spectacular scenery was only made better by a beautiful day and some of the freshest fish and chips consumed steps away from the boats that had caught it.

Spending time with Joe was when I heard the phrase used the most. But I have heard it plenty from my Irish roommates, in classes, and just about everywhere in everyday life. Why it so peculiarly reflects Irish culture is it’s use. Similar to the American phrase “your boy,” it describes good friends. But it is also used very frequently with a sarcastic tone. For example, I once heard someone mention “Yer man Graham Dwyer.” Graham Dwyer is a former architect that was recently convicted of a brutal and sadistic murder in a case that consumed Ireland. Once in the mall, I witnessed a man, most likely just very drunk, lying in the middle of the hall right as the police arrived. I went, did my shopping, and when I returned to get a new SIM card and leave, he was still there. When I asked the phone kiosk employee what had happened and why he had been laying there for over 30 minutes, he explained that he was not sure what “yer man” was up to.

Irish people are very laid back, somewhat sarcastic, and have a very tongue in cheek tone to their conversations. They approach serious topics with a level of humor to make them easier to swallow. It is a set of attitudes that I am very fond of. “Yer man” embodies of the many reasons I am so happy I chose Dublin to study abroad.

By catrionaschwartz

Although I came to Italy a complete beginner, over the past few weeks I’ve able to learn a decent amount of Italian. More often than not I will start a conversation with a local in Italian, and finish it in English, but considering the number of people that speak English here, and the fact that I’ve only taken Italian for a couple of weeks—it isn't too surprising.

There have been a couple little quirks I've learned about the language over the weeks including to pieces of slang that are fun and tell you something about the country. The first is ‘pronto,’ which means ‘ready’ in Italian and is how many people answer the phone here. The origin of the usage is from when all calls had to go through an operator. The operator would ask you if you were ready for them to transfer the call, and you would reply ‘Pronto.’ While Italy isn’t technologically behind, I feel like technology has infiltrated less aspects of daily life in Italy than in the US, and this somewhat antiquated phrase goes along with that idea.

Another fun one is the phrase in bocco al lupo, meaning in the mouth of the wolf. This phrase is basically the Italian equivalent of break a leg! As my Italian teacher said, all Italians are superstitious, even if they say they aren’t. The phrase is meant to avoid jinxing someone by wishing them luck. The proper response is, ‘crepi,’ or ‘crepi il lupo,’ which means: I hope it (the wolf) dies. Considering Rome’s founding story involves a pair of baby twins being suckled by a she-wolf this phrase rings true to Italian culture to me.

This last one isn't a phrase so much as an etymological note. Every day, along with ‘si’ and ‘grazie,’ the word I probably use most is Ciao. Who would've thought though that the origin of this sweet greeting is actually, ‘I am your slave,’ from old Venetian Italian. Apparently such a greeting was so common, the phrase blurred together and came to mean hello. First of all that says a lot about the Roman Empire and Venetian Empire. Second of all, how funny is it to think that everyone walking around, going to the local bar (which is what coffee shops are called here) and saying Ciao, and it actually meaning ‘I am your slave! Good morning!’

Basically Italian is turning out to be pretty fun.

By kathleenmccarthy1

One of things that has come up a lot lately is how people will have a hard time understanding me when I get back to the US. This is because I’ve been talking like an Irish person for some time now and much of it is completely indecipherable to Americans.

The most important term to know in Ireland is the word “craic” (pronounced like ‘crack’). It basically means fun, but can be applied to a lot more situations. For example, the most common greeting in Galway is “Hiya, what’s the craic?” This really just means “Hey, what’s up?” In the evenings, you will hear kids saying to each other “Any craic?” to ask if they may be going out. Instead of saying that something was fun, Irish people will say that it was “great craic.” It can also be used to describe people. Someone who is exceptionally fun or easy-going might be told that are “the best craic ever.” It can also be used sarcastically. You might hear students on their way to the library say something like “I have to work on economics and all that craic.”

Irish people use a lot of adjectives that I would never imagine that I would use to describe anything, but alas, I have. The one that I noticed first was “grand.” Grand is used as a synonym for fine. So instead of saying “I’m fine,” people will say “I’m grand.” I noticed it first when I was trying to buy a cell phone and apologized to the guy working at the store for asking so many questions, to which he responded, “Oh, you’re grand.” What struck me about this was that it sends a message to people not from Ireland that something is better than it actually is, since we don’t drop the word “grand” for just anything. Another word that I’ve started using as an adjective is “class.” Class is probably the best adjective for anything. It trumps awesome and great and amazing and any other positive adjective you can think of. Someone would probably say, “That’s a class film.” When talking about a movie they like, or “He’s a class player.” when talking about someone who is good at rugby or another game.  Or, if something really good happens and you tell someone about it, they might say, “That’s class.” Irish people also have a habit of saying "like" at the end of sentences so you might hear someone say "That's so class, like."

One of the funniest stories I have involving Irish slang is the one of how I learned about the word “deer.” The first day that I met my roommate, she was telling me about a place to eat on campus and said, “It can be deer, but it’s alright.” When I heard this I said, “I’m sorry, what?” “It can be deer,” she said, “but it’s not too bad.” “They use deer in the food?” I said. “No!” she said, “It’s just deer!” I told her that I didn’t know what she meant by that and she explained that deer simply meant expensive.

Learning Irish slang has probably been one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being here. I’ve begun saying a lot of things naturally over time and don’t even notice them anymore. I think that this has made it a lot less awkward talking to Irish people for the first time and also allowed me to fit in better overall. I am interested to see the response I will get from other Americans if I say, “Where is the craic?” back in the US.

Irish slang is so class, like! #GWU #GWAbroad