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HollyElise 28th July 2003 04:38

Hello everyone! :)

I have heard the word "craik" used by both the Irish and Scottish to mean "good conversation" or something close to that, varying a bit in context.

But as i am thinking about using it in a piece of work that will be published, i need to make absolutely sure i have the story straight or the frustrated teachers of the world are going to want to slap my hand with a ruler.

So tonight i did a little investigating of the word using online dictionaries and glossaries... a harder task than would first seem! And checking both Scots and Gaelic dictionaries i can only come up with:

"craik: croak, the corn craik or landrail"

whereas if i look up "conversation" i get "crack" in Scots, and if that is the case, why do both the Irish and Scottish use the word "craik?"

Now i just CANNOT use the word "crack" in the U.S. without it getting mistaken for drugs and carrying with it bad connotations, and it will not be enough to but a clarification in parentheses. Is it appropriate for me to use the word "craik?"

Thank you for responding!!!!

Polwarth 28th July 2003 09:17

I recall that the Irish spelling is 'craic'....

In the Scottish dictionaries I've seen it spelled both the Irish way and 'crack'....

I know very little about Gaelic, Scots or Irish, but presumably the words are very similar in both languages, and it has become assimilated into the Lallans/Scots language.... but don't quote me on this! :D

[Edited by Polwarth on 28th July 2003 at 12:19]

ScabbyDouglas 28th July 2003 09:26

I spoke to a guy who had done extensive research on the crack/craic thing.

He said that the word "crack" was widely-known and used to mean good conversation and banter across Ireland, and into Scotland and England, proabably as along ago as the 19th century.

The spelling "craic" was introduced relatively recently in an attempt to back-form an Irish Gaelic word from the original word. Secondly, the emergence of "crack" cocaine made this distinctive spelling more attractive, particularly when trying to explain that although the "crack" was "mighty" it did not necessarily imply that a visit from the local Narcotics constabulary.

Lastly, I think you will have more joy searching on "craic" rather than "craik" - the craik as you have determined is in fact a bird.

Hope this helps...

ScabbyDouglas 28th July 2003 10:23

Just remembered
The Scottish Song "The Wark o The Weavers" which dates back to the early part of the 19th century - published by David Shaw - who died in 1856, has the opening line

"We're a' met thegither here tae sit and crack, Wi oor glasses in oor hands..."

This would indicate an early widespread use of "crack", in Scots at any rate, meaning conversation. That's no to say that it wasn't originally an Irish expression, but the "craic" spelling was not known/used at that time.

HollyElise 28th July 2003 15:44

Thank you both, very much! This helps.

I have seen "craic" in conversation, but i couldn't find it in any of the online dictionaries, either.

When i was searching yesterday i found an article on BBC Scotland, and i guess there is a huge project currently underway for a much larger online dictionary "that will put tens of thousands of Scots words dating back as far as 800 years on the internet."

Unfortunately, i could use it now.

I'm wondering now if it would be better for me to use the spelling craic so that it is not mistaken for a corn craik? Or is craic only Irish?

ScabbyDouglas 29th July 2003 08:24

In your context, I'd use "craic", I suppose.

Over here, I'd use "crack".

Part of me is a bit irked by this; the "Irish" spelling is already taken to be the more "correct" spelling by many eedjits, and will eventually supplant, I expect, the original word. Which isn't a great problem, but I confidently expect people who have never heard it pronounced to start calling it "crake", and eventually that will become the word that is used. Or maybe I'm just too pessimistic. D'you think?

Steaphan 29th July 2003 12:14

Whatever its origins, the word "craic" is used a lot in the Highlands now too. And it's also come into Scottish Gaelic in certain areas amongst the young when they say "deagh craic" .."good crack" .. a good laugh, good fun.
Interestingly though, I asked a Gaelic speaker from Uist if she ever used it, but she never has, so it seems to have been recently introduced (or re-introduced) from Ireland and perhaps was an Irish Gaelic word.

However, there is a word "cràicte" in Scottish Gaelic meaning "cracked" but used to mean "crazy" i.e Tha esan cràicte" He's crazy.

i wonder if that has something to do with it?

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