Sunday, October 24, 2010

directions in irish

looking south towards Strand Street Great and the river
I never realized how much linguistics plays a part in cultural differences. Even though Americans and Irish both speak English (hey so do the English for that matter!) we still have a hard time understanding each other. That last post had me thinking about Irish directions. I have been lost plenty of times in the last two months, most notably the horrible day we spent trying to find the Social Welfare offices. I found out quickly that the way Irish people give directions is drastically different than I am used to.

I like to be told every single moment of my journey so that I don't have to feel apprehensive and I can be sure I am on the right track. I like to know what landmarks to look out for. I like to know the name of the street I should be turning onto. I like directions to be so informative that I can draw a map in my mind and then hang onto the image until I arrive safely at my destination...Not so with the Irish. I dont think they know how apprehensive we Americans can get. They often tell me how long to walk instead of how far. They say to "walk for twenty minutes". As if everybody has standardized legs and pacing. As if Little Old Gran and Daddy Long Legs walked it off and they both got there in twenty minutes flat. Here is what I mean:

Directions In America
Me: Excuse me. Do you know how to get to the ILAC Centre? I want to go shopping.
American Lady: Sure. Take this street north [pointing] for about five blocks, turn right at the stoplight on Upper Abbey Street. There is a McDonalds and a Penney's on the corner. Then walk one block and take a left once you pass H&M. There will be big glass doors at the entrance and it says 'ILAC Centre' in the window so you'll know. If you pass the River Island store you've gone too far.

Directions In Ireland
 Me: Excuse me. Do you know how to get to ILAC Centre? I want to go shopping.
Irish Lady: Sure. Stay on this road here. You'll want to walk for five minutes. It's right there.

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