We may all be speaking the same language, but the differences between American and Irish English are big enough that sometimes translation is needed.

For example, the other day some friends said: “We were just talking about our cribs”

In America, you might think they were talking about the beds their babies sleep in. Or you might think they were using slang to talk about their houses. But either way, you would be wrong. Baby beds here are cots, and the slang for someones house is usually “gaff”. So what was the conversation about? Nativity scenes. In Ireland, they are called cribs, because crib is a word for animal feeding troughs.

All of this makes sense until we start singing “Away in a manger” (which incidentally is sung to a different tune here). In Irish English, the first two lines contradict each other: “Away in a manger, no crib (manger) for a bed”. Evidently “Away in a manger” was written by an American. If it had been written on this side of the ocean, it would definitely be “Away in a manger, no cot for a bed”.