It is important not to put yourself under too much pressure in conversation, particularly amongst large groups. Indeed, visitors to Ireland can struggle in Irish conversations, sometimes because they do not know what to say and other times because they don’t know what is being said! Here are a selection of conversation fillers that can be used almost indiscriminately during a chat. They can be split roughly into two blocks.
Those that kind of make sense:
• I know, I know, I know: Whether you know or not, this makes it sound like you care about what is being said.
• Where would you be going? This response is tailor-made for when a person tells you about a great deal they got down at their local Penneys/Lidl/SuperValu/family-owned menswear store.
• Don’t get me started: When you agree (or pretend to agree) with the speaker’s anger over a certain subject.
• Ah sure you’ll get that: Like the above, and perfect for when the speaker sounds exasperated by a certain topic.
• Small towns and built-up areas: ‘Ah sure, you’ll get that’, except more for the urban area.
• Chickens today, feathers tomorrow: ‘Ah sure, you’ll get that’ except more for the rural area. Neither ‘small towns’ nor ‘chickens’ should be used when the person is talking about a matter of some gravity. I mean, on the occasion of a death in the family, no one will draw comfort from you telling them ‘chickens today, feathers tomorrow’!
• It is what it is: Doesn’t matter if you don’t know what ‘is’ was in the first place, this is perfect for just saying ‘that’s that’.
• Ah stop: While sometimes you genuinely wish they would, ‘ah stop’ is a nice vanilla-flavoured filler to any chat.
• Exactly! A nice reinforcement for a concluding point, but if you don’t know what they are talking about, this should be avoided, as such certainty on your part when announcing ‘exactly’ often leads them to asking ‘so, what do you think?’
Those that kind of don’t make sense:
• You know yourself: Either we’re telling them that they are aware of what they are talking about, throwing out a deep metaphysical statement or we’re just filling the conversation.
• Are sure look! Look at what? There’s nothing to look at! But that doesn’t stop us telling you to anyway!
• Sure listen! Well, they are listening, it’s called a conversation so we don’t need to remind you! It doesn’t stop us, however.
• Would ye stop? Stop what? Listening? Nodding your head in agreement? Replying with occasional nods of affirmation? In fact, nothing, we want you to stop nothing!
• Come here to me: Don’t, you’re near enough. It’s just something we say to keep you listening.
• Like: Originating somewhere in Dublin before spreading nationwide, ‘like’ is oft put at the end, middle or beginning of a sentence like. Absolutely no comparison is being made. In certain parts of the capital it is pronounced ‘loike’ as in ‘loike, I really loike a few scoops, loike.’