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The Colourful Language of Northern Ireland
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If you're not bored already you're in the right place now!


Just a little background on the people of Northern Ireland which might help explain some of these uncharitable comments. Basically some of the people who live in this part of the world enjoy having a go at their neighbour. You may hear someone comment that "There was a great bit of valye" somewhere. This simply means that both parties enjoyed a good scrap. It isn't so much that they don't like each other - it is just that rivalry is more entertaining than the boredom of getting along.  ( Sometimes there is nothing good on T.V.) The same goes for verbal banter. One of the peculiarities of the Ulsterman is that the more he likes you the more likely he is to insult you.
Now I know I am going to get in trouble for the following but I'm going to write it anyway "just for the hellery". (This is another old Norn Iron saying.) See, they were always at it! I'm not making it up.

It is worth noting that the existence from earliest times of internal defences and fortifications  e.g. The Black Pig's Dyke (AD c.250) and the Pale (14th C.) indicate that one group of inhabitants of Ireland has been having a go at the other "since pussy was a cat". 
Many who have lived in this part of the world, or originated in it, seem to have made a career, or at least a pastime, of fighting. Indeed the sports teams of the University of Notre Dame in the USA bear with pride the name "The Fighting Irish".

I always enjoy a bit of irony. This is a good bit. The Scoti (see below) who inhabited a small part of the area that is now Northern Ireland were said by the Scottish chronicler John of Fordun to have been Christians even before the arrival in Ireland of the missionary Bishop Palladius, who predated St. Patrick. Either Fordun was lying, or they still needed a little work on "love thy neighbour" and "thou shalt not kill". These good people invaded Argyll and for centuries fought with their neighbours in what is now Scotland before eventually taking over the place. Whenever they tired of feuding with the Picts, Britons and Saxons, they would make the odd trip back to Ireland to fight with the Cruithne of Ulster.

Another little known fact is that at no time in history was the entire island of Ireland united and at peace...correct me if I'm wrong...

The Celtic people whose culture spread throughout Ireland around 800 BC appear to be the ones who started to make fighting a habit. Archaeologists believe from their finds that there was an intensification of warfare around 750 BC.

The Scots take their name from an Irish tribe (called the Scoti in Latin) who originated in North Antrim and settled in Argyll around 505 AD. From these settlers most of the clans in Scotland claim descent. The Scoti were involved in many skirmishes over territory down the years until around 843. Then, led by their king Kenneth MacAlpine, they defeated or assimilated the country's main inhabitants the Picts (also known as Caledonians). It is believed this was facilitated by marriage links between the two tribes. (Even Irish warriors don't dare to fight with their mother-in-law.)
It was about 950 AD when the Saxons first began to call the area to the north of them Scotland. Previously this was a name they had given to Ireland, being the original home of the Scoti.
Over the years the native Gaelic tongue of the Scots gave way to the Anglo Saxon language of Northern England, made popular by the court of Queen Margaret, Saxon wife of Scottish king Malcolm III, commonly known as Malcolm Ceanmore. This type of Northern English, with Viking influences, developed into Scots. So Scots, like English, has its roots in "Old English", the language of the Angles, a Germanic tribe who crossed the North Sea and became established on the east coast of England. In the 13th to 16th centuries links with France resulted in a number of French words also coming into the Scots language. "Footer" from "foutre" is a good example.
It is nice to think that maybe, just maybe, the descendants of some of the Scoti (now rather diluted) came "home" with the plantation of Ulster in the 17th century. Interestingly, most of Antrim and Down were not part of the official plantation and Scots had already returned to settle there some years beforehand after bargaining for land from a Gaelic chief. Towards the end of the century, after the official plantation had ended, many more Scots made the decision to return to Ulster as a result of famine and other unrest in Scotland.
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