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New book reveals Irish origins of popular Scouse words

albert dock-n
Many of Liverpool’s slang words derive from the Irish language

IT may not be common knowledge, but a new book reveals that many Scouse words and expressions actually derive from the Irish language.

According to Liverpool-born Irish teacher and journalist Tony Birtill,  Liverpool’s ‘Scouse’ dialect was influenced by the fact that the Irish language was spoken by thousands of people in the city until the beginning of the last century.

Walton native Birtill has collected together evidence of this in a new book entitled Hidden History – Irish in Liverpool/An Ghaeilge I Learpholl, which he launched at the weekend as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival.

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He explains: “‘Ter  ar wack’ is usually regarded as a rather old-fashioned Liverpool-slang farewell. But when written ‘tabhair aire, a mhac’ it makes perfect sense to an Irish speaker, and is pronounced in a very similar way to the Scouse.

“It means ‘take care, son.’ The language of poorer, marginalised sections of the community is often viewed with distain by people who are better-off.”

The book also describes how 24,000 Irish residents in Liverpool signed a petition to the Vatican in 1842, requesting more Irish-speaking priests for the city as they could not speak enough English to attend confession.


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One comment on “New book reveals Irish origins of popular Scouse words”

  1. Eamon Ryan

    Not just Scouse but international English owes much to Gaelic expressions. The word "smashing" probably originates in the Irish Phrase "Is maith sin". The word "shanty" as in "shanty town" comes from "sean tí" (old house). "Dig" is probably from the gaelig "tuig" (understand). "Fore" in golf comes from the Gaelic "faire" (beware). There are many other examples.


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