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Irish Slang – Ignorant

old Irish man laughingSo you think you’ve got a handle on the English language. So ya think you’ll take a holiday (that’s vacation to you, Mr & Mrs USA) to Ireland and understand what folks are saying.

Think again.

Although Ireland is a predominately english-speaking nation, there will be moments when you’ll wonder whether that’s true or not. It’s not the Irish language, but the way the Irish use English that is truly unique. One of the things that tickled my ears the most when I first moved here and that tends to confuse our stateside guests is some of the slang. Below is the twentieth installment in my series of common Irish slang that used to confuse us when we first arrived.

Ignorant – Rude.

If an Irish person has been confronted with rudeness, they will refer to that person as “ignorant.” You might hear something along the lines of,

“I went into a shop just as they were about to close and your man was so ignorant!”

The speaker does not mean that the man doesn’t know his trade or that there was some other information he should have had, they mean that he was very rude.

Wifey and I were a bit bewildered the first few times we heard the word used this way, wracking our brains to figure out exactly what the party in question didn’t know. Stateside visitors are often painfully aware of their lack of knowledge of local customs, politics, culture and (where applicable) language . . . this is NOT the “ignorance” the Irish person is referring to.

My suspicion is that this use of the word comes from class divisions and educational opportunities. Perhaps families that could afford to further their children’s education displayed signs of gentility and manners taught in these schools that poor families did not have – leading to an opinion that bad manners are the result not of someone’s character, but of their lack of education; ignorance.