In the most recent Presidential debate, the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, invoked the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln. I remember watching and enjoying the film, quite literally, in a packed theater in Northern Ireland and was glad for the opportunity to think back to what the movie taught me. It wasn’t surprising that Spielberg told part of Lincoln’s story well, exposing the man’s flaws or struggles and including Lincoln’s tenuous family relationships during the height of political tension. Dialogue played a central role in the film, which is probably as it should be with such a brilliant rhetorician as Lincoln. One of the surprises of the film was, of course, that it was Republicans who led the charge to free the slaves. It was the sort of film that gave me goosebumps, that even made me proud (and also saddened) to be an American. Good stories, if we let them, will break our hearts while giving us enough hope to carry on. Though I haven’t followed through, I left the theater that day wanting to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Bible-of-a-book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
I didn’t grow up as a racing fan. In fact, I used to joke that that a competitive activity wasn’t a “sport” unless there was some sort of spherical object involved. But there was still something about attending the biggest car race in the world for the first time back in 2012 that felt like a cementing of my hoosier identity.
Some time late summer or early fall of 2015, I remember tweeting my lament that the media kept giving Donald Trump so much attention. It was essentially my belief that he wasn’t a serious candidate, that this was all a big game to him, and that the primary season would show that. How could everyone else not see that? After all, those who are labeled as early front runners often don’t win. Around that same time, I also wrote a blog post — motivated by a kind of realpolitik instinct — that predicted that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would cruise to their respective Republican and Democratic nominations. I thought those two individuals, more than any others in the race, had the names, history, money, and power to move convincingly toward the White House.
In case you read my interview with Darryl yesterday and struggled with some of his word choice, or if you’re planning a trip to Northern Ireland in the near future, or for the just-plain-fun-of-it, I’ve listed some of the common words and phrases used in Northern Ireland and their appropriate American “translations.” I remember that in what was somewhat of a lonely year for me, noticing the language differences was one of the little joys I experienced every day. Yes, of course, the Northern Irish speak English, but as one would expect, they rely on different slang, pronounce words differently, use words that Americans would know but rarely use, etc. I suppose this is a bit of an informal linguistics project, which is funny because I tried to take a linguistics class in grad school, and I lasted all of one day before dropping it. I’m sure my list isn’t completely exhaustive, and the words and definitions are listed in no particular order:
My In the Fray essay about Northern Ireland from a couple days ago focuses a lot on the Protestant side of things. Below, you’ll find an interview I conducted a couple years ago with Darryl Petticrew, a Catholic friend of mine. Darryl grew up in Ardoyne, a part of Belfast that is mentioned in the essay. I think you’ll find the transcript of our conversation interesting:
Me: “What was growing up in Ardoyne like? How often did you cross over into the likes of, say, the Shankill?”