Irish Cant or De Gammon

For Irish Travellers, the language you speak can have varying names according to the family you belong to.

Mincéir Thari can be called Shelta, Cant or De Gammon. It is an ancient indigenous language
formed using the Ogham technique that gradually developed towards its present form under the pressure of contact with Irish and Hiberno-English. Mincéir means Traveller and Thari means talk, so this might be translated as ‘Traveller talk’.

The closest living language is old Irish, which was spoken in Ireland pre 1200s. While the
language is practiced mainly through oral tradition, with very little written history of it, the words for ‘priest’ and ‘God’ shown in old, pre-Christian documents in Ireland show shared lineation between the languages. The language is widely used today and the majority of people who speak it also speak English. There are different dialects of Irish Cant and in Ireland alone, there can be differences in words commonly spoken across the country and differences in spelling between people.

Thank you to Dr Sindy Joyce, Oein DeBharduin and Chris McDonagh for support with these translations.

Are you good? Ar munya dil?/Ar munya hu?
I'm good Mydil Tome/Munya
What name did you take? Munika Bug astúrt, lit?
My name is... Mydil munika...
Take a cup of tea Bug a gushach weed
Will you get me a cup of tea? Will ya Bug mi’dil a gusach a weed
One, two, three Ain, do, tré

If you are a teacher, take a look at our teaching resources.

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