A couple months ago I was writing a short story (which turned into a novella) titled, The Viviparous Quadripeds of Aynu-Mosir. This is a steampunk story set in The Memory Thief novel series about an Ainu man (aboriginal Japanese) who is raised in an Irish neighborhood on a moon colony. I wanted a lot of old-timey Irish slang. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to use Gaelic, it was more that I wanted regional dialect. There are common English words that I don’t think about having an Irish origin or usage, but I needed reminders for what those were. I ended up stumbling upon a few great websites that I wanted to share in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
Below are some of the useful websites I found.
1. Irish Abroad
My favorite words from this site were: arse, arseways, bloody, bogtrotter, bushed (tired), cake-hole (mouth), drawers (underwear), gawk (stare), gobshite (idiot), gowl (idiot), piss up (night of lots of drinking), puss face (foul tempered person), scutters (diarrhea), shenanigans (mischief) and there was so much more.
2. How to Cuss Like a Leprechaun
I used this website not so much for the Gaelic but for the translations. There were old saying on there that translated to things like “By God!” and “May the cat eat you and the devil eat the cat!”
3. The Power and Humour of Great Irish Curses!
I was looking for curses and insults that sounded fun and funny. I ended up using:
May you all go to hell and not have a drop of porter to quench your eternal thirst.
To hell with you.
May all the goats in Gorey chase you to hell.
4. Irish Insults
The two slang terms that I found to be the most appropriate for my writing is “ye bleedin’ thick” which basically means “an idiot” and “pox.”
5. Irish proverbs
This site is full of sayings like: If you lie down with dogs you’ll rise with fleas. It also has toasts and other sayings.
6. Irish proverbs
This site is full of sayings like: It is better to be a coward for a minute than dead the rest of your life.
7. Darby O’Gill and the Little People
It has been forever since I watched this movie. I was doing Irish research and was specifically looking for the word “bregorra” and what it means. I couldn’t spell it but I remembered it from this movie. The exclamation means “by God.” I asked my younger sister if she remembered this movie and she did. She found the entire script online.
8. How to Speak English Like the Irish: Quick and Dirty Tips by Grammar Girl
I pretty much love all Grammar Girl posts. I like how she breaks things down. She is to Grammar as Joseph Smith is to the Mormon religion. And what I mean by that isn’t that she married multiple wives. She is a grammar disciple. So when I saw her post on how to speak English like an Irishman, it was perfect for what I was researching. I especially liked the idea of “amn’t” a contraction of “am not.”
By the time I got done with my Irish research I was able to use some of the vocabulary appropriate for the characters as well as come up with an Irish steampunk saying of my own:
May all the automatons in the Eastern Arm of the Milk Way chase you to hell and the devil swallow you arseways.
—common Irish American curse in on asteroid and moon colonies
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I have decided to release the Viviparous Quadripeds of Aynu-Mosir for free on March 16 and 17 in honor of the Irish holiday. If you missed the sale and are interested in purchasing the novella after that date, it will be priced at 99 cents on Kindle.
Purchase a copy on Amazon or Smashwords.