How to Speak English Like the Irish

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some Irish turns of phrase.

Benny Lewis, Writing for
5-minute read
Episode #267

The Lovely Accent

Our Irish accent is what really sets us apart from the pack though!

Other English speakers have this strange thing they do where they put their tongue between their teeth and blow a buff of air over the tongue. They call it the “th” sound.

We do away with that unpleasant noise in Ireland! To us, the “th” sound is simply replaced with a “t” (unvoiced) or a “d” (voiced). So do ya see de tirty tree and a tird trees over dere? Dat's roy! Sounds way better, doesn't it?

My friends across the pond (both the Atlantic and the Irish Sea) seem to love putting consonants together that never belonged next to one another in the first place--l and m, for example. How can you say these so quickly at the end of a word? It's totally unnecessary! So to us Irish, a film is pronounced “fill-um.” The Irish name Colm has two syllables, “Coll-um.”

Further, you end words in hard consonants! It's like an abrupt and unexpected car crash! Let's take things easy shall we? The “t” at the end of the word “right” is softened almost to a “sh” sound in the Emerald Isle, or even done away with altogether in North Dublin, and pronounced “roy.”

We also "ch" up our t's and "j" up our d's in certain words. So the second day of the week is “Chooseday”; a tube is a “choob.” “Due” (d-u-e) is pronounced just like “jew” (j-e-w).

And if you are spelling words for us, instead of imitating a pirate when you get to the 18th letter (aaaarrrrgh!), just say it like “or” please.

This article is only a small summary of the many differences between Irish English and other brands of English, but hopefully it explains why we Irish sound so charming when we speak. So, soften your consonants, "trow" away your 'th's, and stop giving out that you don't understand us.

Fluent in 3 Months

Benny Lewis runs the Fluent in 3 Months website where you can learn more about Irish, follow his travels, watch his videos, and buy his Language Hacking Guide to help you quickly learn any of 21 different languages.

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network and the author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and The Grammar Devotional.


How to speak English like the Irish



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