Excuse me, what’s Bertie Speak for Bord Snip Nua?

New edition of Dictionary of Hiberno-English includes more than 100 new definitions


Bertie Speak, Bord Snip Nua, Circling Shannon, Dubes - you know what these terms all mean, right?

Ok, maybe not - in which case the answers are at hand. The new edition of Dictionary of Hiberno-English, published today, includes more than 100 new definitions - the biggest number of new entries since the author Dr Terence Patrick Dolan’s tome was first published in 1998.

The entries acknowledge terms which have slipped into our daily lexicon and reflect the changing times.

Hiberno-English is the form of English commonly spoken in Ireland, and many of the words found in the edition have a distinctly Irish feel.

Only recognised as a fully-fledged dialect at the start of the 20th century, Hiberno-English is a combination of standard English with loan words and grammar from the Irish language, and also archaic English words that have fallen out of use in England but that remain in common use in Ireland.

The author, Emeritus Professor of English at University College Dublin, is a well-known broadcaster and guest lecturer.

l You weren’t sure what those terms - meant? Here are the definitions, along with a few more:

Bertie Speak: an idiosyncratic mode of speech practised by the former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, referred to on RTE Radio 1, 2009: “The most famous example of which was his immortal statement, ‘It took Ireland thirty years to become an overnight success’.”

Bord Snip Nua: slang term for the committee which reduced government expenditure. Ross and Webb, Wasters (2010), p206: “This quango was also targeted by An Bord Snip Nua.”

Builder’s tea: very strong tea, made on a building site over a gas-fire.

Celtic Bubble: phrase devised to describe the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger.

Circling Shannon, a euphemism for being unwell and incapable of action, arising from an incident which took place at Shannon airport in 1994 when the Russian President Boris Yeltsin was unable to leave the plane, while then taoiseach Albert Reynolds waited.

Dubes: Dubarry brand deck shoes, Irish Daily Mail, July 8th, 2010, p9: “Dubes are as much part of the South Dublin uniform as a Leinster jersey with the collar turned up and a Starbucks latte”.

Galway Tent: marquee set up by Fianna Fáil at the Galway Races to entertain supporters.

Ghost estate: unoccupied or unfinished housing estate, deserted because of the collapse of the construction industry as a result of the recession.