Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ian Sansom has a good ear

I noted in an early post about Ian Sansom that engaging author's tendency to have the characters of his novels set in Northern Ireland use the word just at the end of a sentence. I contrasted this to the usual North American English practice of placing just before the word or phrase it governs. This feature of Sansom's dialogue, I wrote, "punctuates the novel and lends it a suggestion of authenticity."

Today I am pleased to be able to report that people in Northern Ireland really do adhere to that pattern, as in the following, from the taxi driver who took me from Cookstown this afternoon to view the stone circles of Beaghmore:

"I'm from an island a mile that way just. Originally."
And why shouldn't a visitor enjoy a country's speech as well as its sights? My favorite of many examples on my current trip has been this exchange between a man and a woman on the bus to Cookstown:

"It's the wet season in my country."

"End of the summer." (Understanding nod)

"A lot of tropical storms there."

"Oh, aye."
Why did I like this so much? Because the woman who uttered that ubiquitous Northern Irish interjection/affirmation "Oh, aye" was from the Philippines.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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15 Comments:

Blogger The Clandestine Samurai said...

New culture is always intriguing.

September 03, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

You went to Cookstown but you skipped Carrick? On behalf of the town we consider ourselves snubbed.

Just dont go to Larne. No, really, dont. Makes Trenton look like Firenze.

A...

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

To jump countries, one of my favorite memories of Edinburgh was listening to a kilted bagpiper by John Knox's church -- an Asian bagpiper.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Gerard Brennan said...

My favourite mix so far has been the Russian/Broad Belfast blend.

An exclamation of disbelief relayed in pub conversation.

Belfast style - "Here's me, Wha'?"

Russian-Belfast - "Here is me, vot?"

Brilliant.

gb

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're right, CS, and Irish culture more than some, perhaps, because we in America have our heads packed with ideas of what Irish culture is like. Nice to see the real thing. I do have to say that some of that we think of as typical Irish traits seem accurate, and very much positively so. People do seem friendly and ready with a joke when we (North) Americans would give a dull and straightforward answer. I must say that (occasional) Irish tendency is a more pleasant, stimulating and amusing way of delivering information.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Criminy, Adrian, are you impatient. Just for that, I'm not going to tell you what I had for lunch at the Joymount Arms today.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I did not go to Larne, though the driver/guide on my excursion along the Causeway Coast did have some interesting things to say about Larne, shipping, industry and so on. I guess the place has its attractions as long as one does not visit there.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger meryl's musings said...

I am so envious! Ireland is one of my goals in life -- just not sure when I'll achieve it. Enjoyed reading about the stones. Oh, aye!

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, that sort of thing always makes me feel good about the host country, that its culture is attractive and vital enough that immigrants want to learn it.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My favourite mix so far has been the Russian/Broad Belfast blend.

An exclamation of disbelief relayed in pub conversation.

Belfast style - "Here's me, Wha'?"

Russian-Belfast - "Here is me, vot?"

Brilliant.

gb


Aye, brilliant. A number of my fellow guests at my guest house are older Scottish ladies, by the way, so I've really been getting the ayes from all sides this week.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Meryl, you won't be surprised to learn that I think your goal is a worthy one.

The stones are worth a visit. I may post a comment a later about Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments. For now, though, I'll say that the visit to these stone circles made me reflect on why I find such manmade monuments more moving than natural wonders.

September 04, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Oh Peter, you should have told me you were going in. I could have had the whole clan down. I assume - since it was a weekday (and school has started) - that neither of my nieces was working. At least I hope that was the case.

Did you go to the castle or did you think twice about that scheme once you saw the old pile?

Seriously you should have let me know, my mum would have had you in for tea and shortbread, she's only a wee dander up from the pub. Next time mon ami

a...

September 04, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, I have a thing for Norman architecture. I like the Tower of London and, unless I'm getting my churches mixed up, St.-German-des-Pres in Paris is of a similar period, so I visited the castle.

Blast! I thought that amid the occasional remarks about the Joymount Arms and the castle I'd come right out and said that Carrickfergus was on my itinerary. Your sister was not in (I don't know if the young women who were serving and working the cash were your nieces), but I can tell you that dulse makes a brilliant garnish for salmon. And I know dulse. My father was from New Brunswick. We'd see dulse drying by the side of the road when we'd visit the Maritimes, and he'd buy bags of the stuff.

I washed down my salmon with a pint of a creamy, dark Irish stout whose name I don't quite recall.

September 05, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

You know David Roskies and you know dulse, what a weird inter connected world we live in.

When I took my then 4 year old daughter to Carrick Castle she said that it reminded her of the "real castle at Disneyland"

A..

September 05, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That little girl will be probing the nature of reality and image before long, mark my words.

September 06, 2008  

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