Welcome to our Indie Spotlight series, in which TNBBC gives small press authors the floor to shed some light on their writing process, publishing experiences, or whatever else they'd like to share with you, the readers!
Today, Victoria Costello is sharing a little insight into how Irish slang and how it ended up finding its way into her forthcoming book Orchid Child.
Ten Bits of Irish Slang That Found Their Way in My Novel
As a third-generation Irish American author inspired by my grandparents’ journey across the Atlantic to replicate their lives in fiction, the Irish voices I heard while researching and writing this story felt oddly familiar and unfamiliar—at the same time. Capturing their vernacular, as an outsider, was a daunting challenge I hope I met reasonably well. But hanging out with the Irish characters I created was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Be it a sexual inuendo, or a simple put down, nobody delivers their slang as artfully as the Irish. Here are ten that made it into my forthcoming novel, Orchid Child.
1. eejit To my ears, eejit adds an extra layer of scorn to the tamer idiot. Such as when Liam, an Irish teenager, uses it with his younger, American friend, Teague, who complains about being drawn into Liam’s computer hack of the mental health clinic where both are patients. “You’re the one who gave me the password, eejit.”
2. feckin’ No translation needed, with or without the apostrophe. As when Ellen, the apothecary’s daughter, frets about having to put off her wedding due to the outbreak of violence connected to the 1920 Irish Rebellion. “Ellen pictured walking down the aisle wearing Mam’s dress. If the feckin thing still fit. Between her nausea and bulging middle, Ellen felt less like a bride every day.”
3. craic Meaning the news. As when the novel’s two brothers, Colm and Michael, trade information to escape a British attack on their town, one asks “What’s the craic?”
4. Jacks, Tans, both refer to Brits in a not nice way, but Jacks conflates the Union Jack with the Irish word for toilet, while Tans refers to the notorious mercenaries known as the Black & Tans, who ravaged the Irish population during the rebellion.
5. yoke, works like an all-purpose thingy, such as when the Druid Chief, Finn tells Teague to “pick up that yoke for me.”
6. beor Meaning slut. Used by Archie, an English grad student studying at the same Irish university where the novel’s protagonist Kate, a disgraced neuroscientist, is conducting the study she hopes will salvage her career. As in “…the ginger beor who got the boot from her lab in NYC because she slept with the boss.”
7. gobshite Slang in the UK, AU, and Ireland, for a big talker, someone the speaker considers as dumb as shit. Used contradictorily by Archie when he describes Kate as “a gobshite with a massive brain.”
8. dinger, mot, lashing One more dishy sentence from Archie, now talking about his one-night stand with Kate. “She’s a right little dinger who’s quite the mot after a good lashing.” So many words for a fallen woman, and yet not a one for the fallen man?
9. PP Ryan, a small-town shrink, is at a pub with his old friend, Dermot who asks for advice on how to please his unhappy wife. To which Ryan says, “Derm, I think you better take that one to your PP.” Meaning, the parish priest, of course.
10. A nun’s gee. This last nasty bit of slang fit the character so well, I felt compelled … A relative of Kate’s is talking about the united front presented by Kate’s mother and aunt in a family quarrel back home, when he says, “Those two were as tight as a nun’s gee.”
Orchid Child is Victoria Costello’s enchanted family saga; a story told in three voices, one per generation, over a century. Publishing June 13, find out more here.
Victoria Costello is an award-winning writer and educator living in Ashland, Oregon. Her non-fiction work has appeared in various publications, including the Huffington Post, and her debut title, A Lethal Inheritance, A Mother Uncovers the Science Behind Three Generations of Mental Illness was released in 2012 with Prometheus books. Orchid Child is her first work of fiction.
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