Global Irish Words

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    Thanks to the increased availability of digitally uploaded word lists and dictionaries, research into how far the Irish language has travelled globally has been made much easier. It is interesting that individual Irish language words have found new homes in Global English dialects. It is doubly interesting to see these words’ meanings extended to suit new conditions. The American writer Daniel Cassidy in his book How the Irish Invented Slang claims most American slang comprises Irish words in disguise. His claims have been challenged, but I suggest his work is still of value in seeing Irish words existing outside that language and in American English, Australian English and Newfoundland English where they sometimes serve new purposes. For example, he provides the word meitheal (as ‘mihal’) an Irish language word for a working party, usually of neighbours helping each other out at harvest time. Cassidy found it being used in the US in the 1930s and 40s by Kerry-born Michael Quill, one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union, as a code word for a union meeting in New York.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationTinteán
    PublisherDublin Institute of Technology
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2019


    • Irish language
    • Irish speakers
    • Irish words
    • words' meanings


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