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"Shirts or shorts"


"Tirty-tree 'n' a toord" in Ireland

By the River Nore nearby Kilkenny In Irish English the soft "th" sound is pronounced as a hard "t."

I asked a couple of Irish friends if they could hear a difference. No, they said; it's the same sound.

It is normal that the subtlety of some variations of a local language will be lost to a foreign listener; but in this case it seems that the phonemes are identical.

One day I was down at the river with my friends J_ and M_. Later in the pub we were talking about it.

J_ had caught a fish—one to keep, that is, and one that he had let go, too small. "One and a half." M_ had entangled her line, reeled in various oddments, and gotten a bubble bobber stuck high in a tree the other side of the river Nore.

At the pub, over the pool table, M_ said "I got three," heading up to the part about the detritus she'd reeled in.

"No," J_ said , you got a tree."

  —20 May 2002