Book reveals Scouse links to Irish

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Museum of Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool

A new book has revealed that many Scouse words derive from the Irish language.

Tony Birtill, Liverpool-born journalist and Irish language teacher, has authored Hidden History: Irish in Liverpool/ An Ghaeilge I Learpholl which describes how the Scouse dialect is influenced by the fact that Irish as a language was spoken by thousands of people in Liverpool until the end of last century.

The book outlines how a lot of phrases are similar in the two languages, such as ‘Ter ar wack’ which is regarded as an old fashioned Scouse slang for farewell.

When this phrase is written in Irish ‘tabhair aire, a mhac’ and pronounced in a very similar way to the Scouse version, the phrase makes sense to an Irish language speaker, Birtill writes.

He said: “’Tabhair aire, a mhac’ in English 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 word ‘shanty’, which means small, crudely built shack, originates from ‘sean ti’. In English this phrase means old house, and is also pronounced very similar to the English word.

Walton native Birtill also describes in his book how more than 24,000 Irish people living in Liverpool signed a petition to the Vatican in 1842 requesting more Irish-speaking priests for the city as the residents were unable to speak enough English to attend confessions.

About Kirsty McColgan, JMU Journalism