Agus anois an aimsir – Bíonn na Gaeil ag caint ar an aimsir an t-am ar fad. Irish people talk about the weather all the time. This conversational trait is shared by people from Wales, Scotland and England. It is deeply imbedded in the languages and cultures of these islands. Neighbours greet each other with “cold day” or “a fine soft day” as they pass on the street. Family members ask each other “do you think it’s going to rain?” before going outdoors. This statement of the obvious may seem puzzling to some. The remarks are not as inane as they appear and definitely not akin to saying “I’m on the train” on the mobile phone.
A remark about the weather is an acknowledgment, a form of greeting. It is a useful starting point to conversation between strangers. Translated it means as “I’m ready to talk”. The unspoken rule is to agree, “yes, it’s freezing” in response to “cold day” even if you have just stripped to a t- shirt.
A possible explanation lies in the weather itself. We don’t have a reliable dry season, a monsoon season or any other period of predictable weather. The weather is an ever changing scenario. There is uncertainty about everything from whether to carry an umbrella to the outcome of major sporting events. Decisions in disparate areas such as agriculture, fishing, sport are frequently weather based. Over the centuries deliberations have enriched the languages and cultures of these islands.
Comments about the weather are used as an opening to conversation on social networking sites by people from Cork to Donegal, from Manchester to San Francisco. The topic of weather may even be spreading into space, I quote a recent remark tweeted from space by Astro_Soichi on Twitter.
“Washington D.C. Weather is getting better”
It looks as if talk about the weather is as popular as ever.