We obviously don't have time here to go word by word through the dictionary, pointing out how Irish folk say things differently. However, here are some good quickie tips, boyo:

  1. Soften your vowels. Perhaps the best example of how vowels in the Irish argot are softer is contained in the schoolhouse recitation of the alphabet. American kids begin with "ay, bee, see . . ."; Irish kids begin with "ah, bee, see . . . ." Let's begin with perhaps the first phrase you'll utter in your Irish disguise: "How are you?" That's should come out: "Ha-ware-ya?" Note that in this particular example, the "a" in "hawareya" is actually long, like the "a" in "bake." That's because the pronunciation of the "a" is generally the reverse of the U.S. accent. Other examples of the phenomenon are: "Tomato" (pronounced "ta-mah-toe"); "Basil" (pronounced "bah-sil") The same phenomenon often holds true for the i's: the Irish will say "v-ih-tamin" not "v-eye-tamin" - with the "i" sound from "if" not "hike."

  2. Harden your consonants. One of the first things that you'll notice about the speech pattern of Europeans is that they sound like they enunciate much more clearly than Americans. The best way to improve your enunciation is to focus on your consonants and hit them hard. In other words, stop slurring; no "shoulda, woulda coulda." A good way to practice this elocution is to read aloud, aspirating loudly on each consonant.

  3. Lyricize your inflection. This is perhaps the most difficult lesson to teach a foreign ear, but we hope that simply by mentioning it, we'll alert you to the sound so that you can work on it. The Irish accent is very commonly described as lyrical. What that really means is that a typical sentence sounds more musical and sing-songy than American English.

  4. Watch movies that feature Irish accents. These include: The Butcher Boy, The Commitments, The General, My Left Foot, The Snapper, The Van, and Waking Ned Devine. Watch these flicks with a tape recorder handy and recite each line in your own attempted Irish accent into the box. When you are speaking, focus on the three portions of speech that we have emphasized: soft vowels, hard consonants, and lyrical inflection. Then play the tapes back and listen to your attempts.

    SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW speak with an Irish accent?