When you're new to Belfast, the accent can sometimes be a little different. Tejinder is here to share some of the most common phrases you might hear when you move here as well as what they mean. You'll be speaking like a local in no time!
When I moved to Belfast, it took my Canadian brain a while to adjust to the common vernacular used in Belfast. I slowly picked up on some of the common phrases and words that are used here, and over the past year and a half, I have also come to find out how and when to use these certain words/phrases.
In contrast, some words that I would use on the daily back in Canada are not used here, like saying something is “cool”, or “awesome”. If I am angry about something in Canada, I would often say “I’m pissed off” but I’ve heard people in Belfast say “I was raging’”, which you may hear a lot too.
So, for new students coming over to Queen’s, here is a quick list of words and phrases you will hear ALL the time (after you finally get used to the accent!)
Now, I don’t know if it was just me, but when I was looking at accommodation options before I came to Queen’s, I saw the word ensuite all over the website. I had never heard of this word in Canada, and I had to Google it before I understood. Ensuite refers to when a bathroom adjoins directly to a bedroom. So, if you’re on the Queen’s Accommodation website, “ensuite” refers to having a bathroom attached to your bedroom!
Craic (pronounced “crack”):
At first, I was taught by my fellow Belfast-ians that “what’s the craic?” is a common phrase, meaning “what’s up?” - and this is completely true. However, the word craic is actually quite versatile, as I slowly discovered. Craic can mean good fun, partying, joking around. So, examples of sentences with this word could be “come over! It’s gonna be good craic”, or “she’s great craic”. Later, I heard one of my friends asking me a question when we saw a bunch of people eating doughnuts: “what is the craic with those doughnuts?”, which she explained as asking “what is the deal with those doughnuts?” AKA where is everyone getting those doughnuts?! Before I make it any more confusing, I will leave it at that - just know that the word craic is commonly used in these contexts, in case you hear it!
The word “wee” does mean small, tiny, or of a small amount, which I already knew. However, this word was not in my commonly used daily vocabulary. On one of my first days in Belfast, I was told by a lovely receptionist to “take a wee seat” while I waited and asked by a cafe barista if I “would like a wee flavour shot in my coffee”. Many of my friends from Belfast use the word wee, even when the item they are referring to is not small! Just know that this word is oftentimes used to talk about something quick (such as “let’s go for a wee coffee”) or short (such as “gonna run to Tesco for a wee shop”), but can also be used otherwise.
Contrary to your previous knowledge of the word, when someone in Belfast tells you “that’s grand”, it does not mean that whatever they are referring to is awesome, magnificent, or great. It actually means that it is just fine or good. Many times, if you ask people in Belfast how they are doing, they will answer “oh, grand”, which usually means just fine. I quickly realized this when people would say something was grand but their expression and further discussion did not match the description!
In contrast to the word “grand”, the word “class” is used to describe something that is well-liked, or awesome (which is the “Canadian” equivalent of this, I have come to assume). One time, a Belfast friend of mine described a new song she liked as “class”. Or when I’ve told someone I’m from Canada, they might say “oh, that’s class! I love Canada!”. I guess it means that the subject of discussion is of a “high class” in that person’s eyes? Hopefully!
This word is used to refer to a group of people, quite often. Instead of saying “you all”, “you guys”, or “you lot” etc. people in Belfast often just say youse. For example “will youse be coming over at 5pm or 6pm?” or “can half of youse come over here and look at this..” (this sentence was actually used by my professor while teaching us anatomy!).
This is not an entirely comprehensive list, but just some very common slang and vocabulary I was unaware of when I first moved to Belfast. I hope it helps new students who may struggle at first (much like I did) about understanding the context and meaning of these words and how to use them!
Dentistry| 2nd year | Canada
I am a 24-year-old Canadian girl through and through! I came to Belfast in Sept 2017 to start my degree in Dentistry. While I do have a degree from Canada (in Biochemistry), coming to Belfast has been an entirely new experience. I am part of the Canadian American Student Association and I am also a Residential Assistant, so if you see me around, say hi! I love reading, sports, singing but above all, I am a coffee fanatic, so I am always up for a chat over a delicious cup of coffee!
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