The NY Times has a regular weekly feature consisting of humorous squibs about life in the Big City. Today’s had two of linguistic interest:
I was at a hip New York bar recently celebrating my boyfriend’s birthday.
At the table next to us were a group of out-of-towners discussing their plans to visit the Empire State Building the following day.
Needing help with transportation, one of the women turned to our party and said, “Do y’all ride the subway?”
Before we could answer, she asked a follow-up question: “Oh, wait, are y’all from here?”
Our group replied in unison, “Yes.”
The thoughtful tourist paused for a moment and then quickly rephrased her question: “Excuse me, do youse guys ride the subway?”
Jamie L. Rubin
Being a teacher and writer of Irish Gaelic—a minority language even in Ireland—and new to the New York area, I was eager to find out if there were other Irish speakers in the city. I found, to my delight, that a group met regularly in a Midtown bar.
Having first arranged by e-mail to meet them, I arrived at the bar and scanned the clientele. Indeed, around a table was a group deep in conversation, and I asked them in Irish if I could join them. “Why not?” came the reply in Irish, and I sat down with them and ordered a drink. It seemed strange to me that none of their names were familiar, but they seemed more than happy to talk to me, if a little puzzled.
After five minutes of inconclusive stop-start conversation, however, one of them finally asked me why I, a total stranger, had joined their group.
Beginning to realize my error, and somewhat embarrassed, I looked around the bar again. This time, behind a screen in the restaurant at the end of the bar, I found my Internet colleagues on their second bottle of wine and amazed to learn that I had, quite by accident, blundered into another group of Irish speakers.
The first group, no less astonished, came up to us before they left the bar and, amid much laughter, we wondered how many more of us were lurking around the city’s corners.
Brian Ó Broin