Greenspeak - Ireland in Her Own Words is a best-selling and completely original type of popular reference work. As the title says, it deals with all kinds of words relating to Ireland, which - taken as a whole - tell the story of the country.
Although it is in the form of a dictionary, it also functions as a dictionary of famous quotations (not to mention many new ones unearthed by the author) and as a thesaurus. There is even an extensive list of abbreviations and acronyms - useful if you are seeking employment in Ireland, but haven't lived there.
The author, Paddy Sammon, set out to create a dictionary which would be irresistable to the reader: and in fact, since being published in Dublin in September 2002, many readers have confirmed that, once they have consulted Greenspeak, they just cannot put it down.
The book also works as an encyclopaedia of all things Irish: whether you are searching for details on Irish music, history, science, politics, biography, language, literature, genealogy, the theatre, poetry or Irish-related movies; the lyrics of Irish songs; Irish ghost stories or drinks, you'll find it in Greenspeak if it is in any way related to a word we use in Ireland.
The book is extensively cross-referenced and thus can be used with ease by those in education; if you are simply looking for quotes, or for the Irish backgrounds of the people who left Ireland and gave their names to words in the English language: Barnardo homes, foley artist, furphy, Gregg shorthand, donovanosis, brannigan, murphy.
The information in the 2,000 entries has been distilled from thousands of books, magazines, newspapers and recipes, as well as reliable websites relating to all things Irish. The result is that Greenspeak is far more than the sum of its parts: its 240 pages are a feast for word-lovers, crossword solvers, Gaelic games enthusiasts and the homesick, who deep down never left Ireland!
The three indexes include a thesaurus of all the vocabulary used, listed by subject. So you can now - for the first time - find synonyms with an Irish flavour for all the words you need. There is an index of all the Irish - and other - people mentioned in the text, with dates, and places of birth. There are special entries with epitaphs and famous last words.
Greenspeak includes words from all four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht, and explains where the commonest words came from. Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway and Waterford all figure in the quotations. In fact, there are references to all thirty-two counties on the map of Ireland.
What are the yellow pages called in Ireland? When did Ireland change over to the euro? What is Samhain? Which Irish poet in one of his famous love poems uses the word gazelle?
Greenspeak is highly entertaining for its quotations alone. You will find entries on medieval hairstyles, as well as on The Chieftains, on Jonathan Swift as well as Séamus Heaney. On the best-selling book of house plans which has transformed the look of the Irish countryside, and on Irish antiques such as Waterford crystal, Dublin silver and furniture such as Irish Chippendale.
The Celtic or Gaelic backgrounds to many words are explained. You'll find words which came into the English language in Ireland from French (gossoon), Greek and Latin, as well as words "made in Ireland" which you can find in Russian and Japanese. You'll find business and economic terms (who first used the term entrepreneur?); there are examples of slang, literary words, words for horses (Connemara pony), dogs (Irish setter, Irish wolfhound) and even an explanation of Kilkenny cats.
Greenspeak makes a virtue of being both accurate and entertaining. It has longer entries on common words (slogan) and concise explanations of more specialized ones (findrinny, amperagus, tanistry, ziggurat).
This book makes an ideal gift, for Christmas; birthdays and anniversaries; St Patrick's Day and Halloween. You can be sure that the recipient will consult it daily for years to come, and remember you for giving it.
The publishers of Greenspeak made this work a pleasure to use. The size of the pages is so designed as to allow the book to stay open on the page which you consult. There is a beautiful cover, evocative of nine things which are unique to Ireland; the paper is of excellent quality, but light enough to allow visitors to carry home multiple Greenspeaks; and there are many intriguing illustrations, including some photos from the author's own collection.
For the scientifically and computer-minded there are entries on one of the most used Websites, yahoo.com, on quaternions, on big-endian and little-endian numbers, and on the Irish connection of a chemical element found in the periodic table (berkelium).
There is material on the Irish festival of Halloween, on the Claddagh ring, and on the name of an Irishman whose invention is used in weather forecasts and by sailors all over the world (Beaufort).
Dublin and Cork have long been important centres for the study of medicine and public health, and there are many medical and surgical terms of Irish origin to be found here.
You will find in Greenspeak up-to-date information on the administrations in both parts of the island - the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland: extremely useful if you are searching for your Irish roots.
The entries include words which will be well known to all Irish people, as well as some whose Irish connections will come as news to some: concentration camps, splitting the atom.
This is a wordbook which will be used for years to come, and will be found in libraries and on the desks of all those who write about Ireland. The Irish diaspora is a major interest of the author's and there are references to American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand words with Irish links, as well as those of Irish origin used in England, Wales, and Scotland.
If you are writing or publishing something about Ireland, do include it in your bibliography! If not - just tell your friends!