St. Patrick's Phrasebook Festive Looking but Not that Helpful


st patricks phrasebook iphoneNot so much a book as maybe a pamphlet, St. Patrick’s Phrasebook by Subsonic iPhone Apps provides iPhone/iTouch users with audio pronunciations of “essential Irish Gaelic phrases” that may come in handy this St. Patty’s Day.

Four categories are included — Greetings, At the Bar, Flirting, and Irish Sayings. Within each category are about four or five phrases (22 in all) and include things such as “hello,” “Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” “I’m Irish. Are you?” and “kiss me.” The phrases are displayed in English with the Irish Gaelic phrase spelled out phonetically below it. Tapping on the phrase will reveal an audio pronunciation of the phrase.

Luckily, this is just for fun and isn’t quite the same thing as needing a phrase book to find bathrooms or hail taxis while vacationing in another country. Since it’s probably safe to assume most of us here stateside won’t actually be in a bar in Ireland celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, it is not essential than we know how to order a pint in Irish. But to have a bit fun and possibly impress our more witless friends or unsuspecting strangers, the St. Patrick’s Phrasebook is a way to at least try to learn an Irish Gaelic phrase or two.

I say “try” because unless you’re a quick study with super hearing and highly advanced auditory processing skills, you’ll be lucky to figure out anything more than “hello” — even with the luck of the Irish.  There is no way to adjust the speed of the pronunciation recording and the translator isn’t attempting to speak slowly, plus the phonetic spellings don’t seem to match up with the pronunciation.

In my case, no matter how many times I tried listening to and repeating the more complicated phrases in St. Patrick’s Phrasebook, the bigger laugh I got. “Do you come here often?” comes out sounding a lot like “I mean ta choke a realtor.” That might engage a fellow bar-goer in a conversation about the struggles to buy and sell real estate in the current housing market, but it makes a lousy pick up line.

For my purposes, if the translator had been male and sounded like Liam Neeson (or actually was Liam Neeson), then I could have at least swooned over the voice. But alas, it’s a female voice and one that sounds very much like my high school French teacher. Ok, this lady’s speaking Irish Gaelic not French, but she’s just as boring.

Since obviously St. Patrick’s Phrasebook wasn’t intended to be an introduction to learning the Irish Gaelic language, its shortcomings can’t be taken all that seriously. If you want to goof around a bit with phrases like “green beer” and try to incorporate them in conversation, it’s likely nobody around you will have any idea what you’re saying or if you’re even saying it correctly. Its actual intent aside, it does display a cute little green top hat and shamrock icon on your menu, which I guess could be considered quite festive for 24 hours and it would render your iPhone un-pinchable.

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