Cruisin’ For A Fair Irish Bruisin’
ONE PROBLEM THAT I HAVE, among the multitude I must admit, is one that can be both embarrassing, along with the potential for getting my head kicked in.
I have the habit, unconscious though it may be, of slipping into whatever accent I hear around me. It’s a sort of a Zelig thing (Old Woody Allen movie, look it up). If I am conversing with someone from Louisiana it will take me just a few minutes before I find myself starting to talk like someone straight out of the bayou.
If I was on the other end of that conversation I would think that this fool (me) was either making fun of me or just plain nuts. I am not trying to make fun of anyone and, well – let’s not go there, OK?
This little linguistic quirk of mine has surfaced with a multitude of accents. I’ve endangered myself with people from a number of foreign countries.
The immediate problem is this: I am in Ireland – a land where the various accents are so easy for me that I find myself with a nice lilt in my voice before I’m out of the shower.
I learned how to do a good basic Irish accent decades ago while doing Improv in Comedy Clubs. I learned to do a small armada of gibberish languages and accents to use in our shows. But that, as they say, is another story for another day.
I let my fake Irish accent bob to the surface just the other day when we were visiting the “World Heritage Site” of Newgrange – a 5000 year old monument and tomb.
Visitors are led by their guide into the tomb down a very narrow passageway. Judging by the height of the passageway none of the people 5000 years ago were over 5’2” tall. On our way out of the tomb, at my last opportunity, I lifted my head to see what was ahead and BONG I smacked my head into the stone slab door frame. Of course, two feet ahead of me was another guide, a little old lady in heavy duty boots and sunglasses. She saw me whack my head and exclaimed in her beautiful Irish lilt, “Oh, watch yourself there, darlin’.” Without thinking (my normal state of affairs) I responded with, “Oh, now. Its good thing I’ve got me own head made out of granite as well.” She laughed and gave me a playful slap on my shoulder. Evidently I passed.
I’m just afraid I’m going to do something like that, whether I bang my head or not, and do it with the wrong person, and get myself knocked into the Irish Sea. Of course, if the other guy is an American I’m OK if I do the Irish thing. He might even find it charming.
To make it more authentic I have added some actual Irish pronunciations. Example: Words that have a th in them. In the U.S. we say, “He slides into third base.” In Ireland it comes out (bear with me), “He slides into turd base.” Another thing is, if the clock says that it is 10:30 PM, the American says that it is, “Ten Thirty PM,” but in County Mayo and in Dublin they will tell you it is, “Half Ten.”
We have six weeks yet to our Ireland sabbatical and I am working hard to keep my tongue and my brain under lock and key.
“Until I see you again let the fair winds blow your way and your path be smooth as your whiskey.”
Now just imagine that hokey, and totally fake, little aphorism being delivered by a real Irish lad. You do that and I’m going to go superglue my lips shut before someone does it for me…
Just remember the old Irish Blessing:
May the Road rise up to meet you
May the Wind be Always at your Back
May the Sun Shine Warm upon your Face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And Until We Meet Again (if we do)
May God Hold You in the Palm of His Hand. (tightly)
Appears you may need a Blessing. 🙂
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