The hail of the Irish
A while ago I met two Irish students of Spanish. I thought it might be amusing to ask them about typical Irish greetings, and the one they told me was ‘How is she cutting?’, with the supposed answer ‘Top of the bog’.
Of course I simply accepted this strange idiomatic exchange without even trying to analyse it. But later I decided to try it with other English speakers, who weren’t of Irish origin. To my surprise, no matter where in England they were from, they just stared at me in a funny way. I tried to explain what I meant and they confessed it was the first time they heard the phrase – it is very interesting how the ‘same language’ can be so different that it can actually hinder communication among their speakers.
Another seemingly strange method of greeting between Irishmen and women is asking the question “What’s the craic?”; “craic” (pronounced ‘crack’) being an originally Gaelic word for debauchery of any kind. The standard response to this question is “The craic’s 90”.
Perhaps the most famous Irish greeting of all is ‘Top of the morning to you’. Any Irish out there care to fill us in with the correct response? That’d be grand.