"bold" in Hiberno-Irish

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Sat May 15 11:40:01 UTC 2010

> FWIW, in BE, _bold_ in the meaning, "Audacious, presumptuous, too
> forward," is commonly used by both adults and adolescents to describe
> the actions and attitudes of adolescents, since they no longer obey
> the rules of childhood, but have yet to learn to conform to the rules
> of adulthood.

What Wilson describes here might be close to the sense of the phrase "rude
boy" in Jamaican English, where "rude" has (as has been argued for "bold"
with regard to Hiberno-Irish) a quite distinct meaning from that which it
possesses in SE.

Part of the reason why this thread interests me is that for some time I've
been fascinated by a collection of cant texts, the best known of which is
"The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" as it's usually referred to (though
the original text actually begins, "De night afore Larry was stretch'd")
which suddenly appear in Dublin in the 1780s.  As a result, I've become
interested in lexical, syntactic, and phonological markers which distinguish
Hiberno-English from SE.

Unfortunately, I haven't managed to find much written which directly
addresses this topic.

Another example would be a quatrain which is found in Cork about the same
time (and eventually ends up, through a complicated series of
transformations, outside Tom Sherman's bar room in Laredo in 19thC America):

                My jewel, my joy, don't trouble me with the drum,
                     Sound the dead march as my corpse goes along;
    `            And over my dead body throw handfuls of laurel,
                     And let them all know that I'm going to my rest.

"My jewel, my joy" (and one could add, "my soul") seem to be locutions which
are part of Hiberno-Irish but not SE, to the extent that they, or variants,
become one of the standard signals of Irishness in English drama from the
early eighteenth century onwards.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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