Vocab Lessons

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another procrastination post!  My  first exam still isn't for five days and I also found out that my finance exam is open book/note so I'm having an even harder time motivating myself to study.  Instead, I've decided to give a little vocabulary lesson.  The U.S. gets a lot of flack for basically forcing it's culture upon other countries.  Living in a country like Ireland, however, has shown me that even with all of the exposure to McDonald's and the Jersey Shore, the U.S. hasn't been able to impose all of it's words and phrases around the world.  These are just some words that have different meanings at home and I thought I'd take some time today to share them.

1.) Jumper - Here a jumper is a sweater. At home a jumper is an overall dress that little girls wear.  This one isn't too hard for me to remember since I don't think many people wear American styled jumpers after the age of five.  And using "jumper" to mean sweater has been used in the U.S. just not very often by me.

Irish Jumper
American Jumper

2.) Biscuit - A biscuit in Ireland is a bit like a cookie but usually without anything in or on it. To me they are kind of like a cross between a cookie and a cracker.  They are also sometimes known as "digestives" here which I think is the worst name for any type of food.  In the U.S. a biscuit is more like a dinner roll.  Also, biscuit is one of those words that if you say it enough times it doesn't even sound like a real word... just in case you were wondering.
American Biscuit

Irish Biscuit

 3.)  Chips - I'm sure this is one everyone knows but I guess it can't hurt to point it out.  Chips in Ireland are french fries in the U.S.  What we call chips at home are called crisps here.  I have a hard time saying "crisps" so I generally just call everything chips.  I do love the fact that Ireland has "Chippers." Chippers are basically shops that just make chips and sell them any way possible.  They have dozens of different dips and sauces to douse your chips in. On any given night you will see hundreds of people at these places after a night out dancing.
Delicious by any name

4.) Boots - At one point or another before coming to Ireland I had been exposed to most of these terms I am listing.  The one term that caught me completely off guard, however, was "boots".  The night before my first frisbee practice at UCD I got an email reminding me to bring some warm clothes, plenty of water and "don't forget your boots!"... umm boots? How am I ever going to play frisbee running around in boots?!  Is this some kind of resistance training where you wear something really heavy so when you put on normal shoes you run quicker?  Fortunately with the magic of google I realized that boots here are cleats at home.  I averted disaster and showed up with my cleats in hand and acted calm and cool the next time boots were mentioned.  I even helped some of my less informed friends when they were confused by the word. 
Not for playing frisbee


5.) TK Maxx - No, that's not a spelling mistake.  TK Maxx here is the Irish/UK version of TJ Maxx.  Myself and a friend were so confused by this little change that did some research to discover that there was at some point in the UK another store that started with TJ so they simply changed the letter and renamed the store.

<- Very original ->

6.) School - If you say that you are in "school" in Ireland, people will assume that you are still in high school.  While in the U.S. everything is called school, here you would say college or university. At home if someone were to text you saying 'where are you?' you would say "I'm at school" while here you would say "I'm at college."  It's funny because I remember the first time I heard it the Irish way I thought it sounded so strange but now it's almost second nature.  I have enough trouble with looking young so I need to remember that I'm in 'college' not 'school'.

7.) Kid - I've been told the American usage of "kid" is strange to some Irish.  Even at home it generally means someone younger or closer to childhood, however we still use it all the time.  "I'm meeting up with some kids from school" to me means 'I'm going out with some friends from college', while an Irish person is probably picturing me running around with a bunch of 15 year olds at a playground. 

8.) Ride - One I won't go into great detail about but it drives me crazy.  The word "ride" is used here in a strictly sexual sense.  It's one of the hardest things to take out of my vocabulary and it usually causes me to stutter around sentences that involve bicycles, buses, cars, trains, etc.  I've gotten much better but it's still something I have to actively work on remembering.  I also feel like I sound snobby when I say "I cycled into town" or "I got a lift from a friend" so I'm not sure how that's going to go over when I head back state side.

 9.) Craic - Pronounced like "crack"... not to be confused with crack cocaine.  In Ireland "craic" is used all the time and in many different ways but it is generally used as a term for fun, or what's up. It's just a general way to greet someone and see what's going on.  If someone came up to you and said "How's the craic?" they are not questioning the quality of a recent alleyway purchase you may have just made, they are just asking you how things are going.

10.) Yard - When my roommate back in Boston told me about playing sports in her garden when she was younger I kept thinking, "wow your mom must hate you for stomping all over her flowers."  To me a garden is where you grow flowers and vegetables.  A garden in Ireland is called a "yard" in the U.S.  To the Irish a yard is a concrete slab most likely located in a questionable neighborhood.

11.) Football - I thought this one was easy.  There's American Football and then there is European Football, known as soccer in the U.S.  Of course Ireland never makes anything that simple.  Depending on where you live in Ireland "football" can be referring to soccer or it can be referring to "GAA football" which is an entirely different sport.  Those who call the Irish version "football" will often call the European version soccer like Americans do.  There's also the problem that many Irish also follow American football so when someone brings it up, no matter what, some type of clarification is needed.

Well.  That killed a solid two hours that I should have been using to study.  Also, only two weeks til I head home for Christmas.  This is great since I just got a strong urge to go snowboarding which is not really a possibility here.


  1. Hey Erin! Great post, and very educational! Not sure I'll need to use any of the Irish version of the words any time soon, but will think of you when I hear them!

    Glad to hear you're doing well and coming home for Christmas!

    Your blog is so fun to read, I've always been so impressed with your ability to go anywhere and do anything! You're quite a young woman!

  2. Brid Ridge-McNultyDecember 7, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Erin! I like I like!! What about 'press' instead of cupboard...or what would 'youse' say for that? Or have you considered the hotpress for the airing cupboard, or a press in the kitchen for storing things in? Also, kecks or runners instead of sneakers?...

  3. I always enjoy reading your blog and this one made me giggle :) miss you & see you soon!