Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A dummies guide to speaking with an Irish accent

C'mere, you'll be talking like Bono in no time, grand altogether
By BERNIE MALONE , Staff Writer

Published Tuesday, April 12, 2011

All right, so this instant Irish accent in a mouth spray might not work but
we've put together some helpful tips for a passable Irish accent
Photo by Google Images

Read more: A guide to how to understand Irish speak or slang

Read more: The worst Irish accents in Hollywood movies

Okay so you're not going to sound like an true blue Dub (Dubliner) by the
end of this article you might just get closer than Tom Cruise in "Far and
Away" or God forbid Sean Connery in the "Untouchables"

This brilliant guide to top tips for an Irish accent will have you sounding
more like "The Commitments" than "Darby O'Gill" and that has to be a good

1. Learn the Irish vocabulary

This is by far and away the most important thing to learn when pulling off a
good Irish impression. Vocab is paramount and I don't mean begorrah and
diddly-eye. Irish people have a whole different dictionary.

One of the most obvious is the Irish people's use of the word ³grand². The
question "How are you?" is generally answered with "Grand, thanks" which
doesn't mean $1,000 or a big piano it does in fact me "fine".

Here's some other examples -

Em - This is generally used by the Irish instead of "um" or "uh" while
pausing to think. This is definitely one of the most commonly used noises.
Remember this one.

Cheers - Although this is a drinking toast it is also a aloha-like
multi-purpose word which can mean hello, goodbye and thank you.

Lad - this means any male and when pluralized means any group of females or

C'mere - literally this means "come here" but it also means "listen" and
just a friendly "hey". It can be used to get someone's attention or just
start a sentence.

Right - This is another multi-purpose word. Used like 'C'mere'. For example
"Right, yours was a pint?", "Right, I'm off home".

Bollocks - this literally means testicles but has become a word with which
to express anger. For example if you missed your train you might exclaim
"Bollocks". It can also mean rubbish. For example "That lad is talking utter

Bastard - Although this literally means a child born out of wedlock it can
also be used to express anger and as an exclamation. For example "where's my
bastard coat?"

Eejit - Idiot, but harsher.

Knacker - This can be used to describe an undesirable person or being
exhausted. For example "Jaysus look at that knacker" or "I'm bleeding
knackered, I need a kip".

Food 101

Chips = French fries
Crisps = chips 
Biscuits = cookies

2. The Irish sound

It's impossible to say what an Irish person sounds like as there are 32
different accents and dialects to boot in this small  country. Although
there's only 4.5 million people in the Emerald Isle the variety of accents
is baffling. The most obvious difference is that between Northern Irish
people (think Gerry Adams) and southern (think Bono).

Soft vowels

The Irish generally make fun of how the Americans elongate their vowels in
the same manner that Americans usually make fun of Texans.

Here some phrases to show you the difference.

Americans say "How are you?" Irish say "Ha-ware-ya?" / "Hawareya?"

The response to this question is not "good" or "fine", by the way, it is
"grand" or "grand altogether".

Hard consonants

Enunciate, this is the most important thing. Americans have a habit of
slurring constants, while Irish though they run words together tend to
enunciate their consonants. For example Americans tend to say coulda,
woulda, wanna instead of pronouncing the whole phrase.

Lyricize your inflection

This is probably the most difficult thing to learn - the rhythm and tone of
the accent. This has a lot to do with having an ear for it. Varying pitch
accounts for the different feel of the Irish accent and its commonly
described as lyrical. This means that a sentence sounds more musical or
sing-songy than American English.


The best way to learn is to practice. Although you could hire your very own
dialogue coach a better solution might be to watch some Irish movies and try
to focus on their accents and mimicking them. Some great movies to watch are
"The Butcher Boy", "Circle of Friends" and "The Commitments"

Try to copy some of these lines. Record yourself saying them and you should
be able to find the faults in your own accent.

Warning you will be lousy at first but keep trying it can be quite fun.

3. The Irish spelling

If you're really going for the all Irish experience you'd better change your
spellings too. Although mostly spellings in American English and the English
from across the pond are the same there are some differences.

Add the U

For some very odd reason the Irish and English use extra u's. Just some
examples being armour, behavior, colour, favour, honour, humour, parlour and

Change the Z

Another difference is that the English and Irish use "s" more often that
"z". For example crystallized, industrialized, memorise realized, recognised
and specialized.

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