Mar dhea, moryah — a sceptical Irish interjection

May 14, 2012

The Irish phrase mar dhea /mɑr’jæ/, /mɑrə’jæ/ “mor ya” is characteristic of Irish English speech. It’s a sceptical interjection used to cast doubt, dissent or derision (or all three) on whatever phrase or clause precedes it. Mar dhea literally means as were it, i.e., as if it were so.*

Sometimes mar dhea is translated as forsooth, but I’m not sure this is helpful. Better to consider it an ironic insertion similar to As if!, Yeah right!, or a sarcastic indeed or supposedly. Bernard Share, in Slanguage, describes it as an “expression of sardonic disbelief or dissent”, while P. W. Joyce says it’s:

a derisive expression of dissent to drive home the untruthfulness of some assertion or supposition or pretence, something like the English ‘forsooth’, but infinitely stronger [English As We Speak It In Ireland]

Mar dhea has been anglicised in many ways, for example moryah, mor-yah, maryahmara-ya, maryeah, mauryah, maureeyah, muryaa, moy-ah, and moya. It’s a testament to its popularity in Hiberno-English, the diversity of Irish pronunciation, and the difficulty of finding precise orthographic correspondence between the two tongues.

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Bookmash: Time, love and summer

March 4, 2012
[click to enlarge]

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Time, love and summer

A woman speaks
About time, love and summer:
Arrow in the blue;
Land of milk and honey,
Sixpence in her shoe.

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With thanks to the authors: Anaïs Nin, Paul Davies, William Trevor, Arthur Koestler, Bríd Mahon, and Maura Treacy; and to Nina Katchadourian, whose Sorted Books project started it for me.

Update: More, from Twitter: a gardeny one by @HarrietRycroft, and a stargazing one by @ozalba.

City of Lu has joined in, with a brace of funny examples.

Jessie Jessup has gone full throttle nerd swoon for book mash poetry — and offers six more here.

Chris Galvin felt National Poetry Month was the perfect excuse for her second book spine poem. And another: ‘Old Beijing‘.

[bookmash archive]