I have a bit of the Irishman in me.

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
I'm setting up a new thread as I'm going off on a tangent.

I was told:

I have a bit of the Irishman in me. (for personality)

Would this be used out of the blue, without an aforementioned personality of the people?
Could you say
I have a bit of an Irishman in me.
I have a bit of a Japanese in me.

?
 
  • AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    Not unless you're a cannibal. The indefinite article means that you're talking about a specific person. In this usage the definite article paradoxically means you're talking about the class, not an individual.

    Also note that you can't call a Japanese person "a Japanese".
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Then how about saying

    I have a bit of the Japanese in me
    or
    I have a bit of the American in me
    ?

    Should the sorts of personalities be mentioned before in order to be able to use the phrases?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think the construction 'a bit of the (person [gender specific*] name) is normal. 'A bit of Irish', 'a bit of Japanese', 'a bit of (adjective)' is fine. I can't imagine anybody saying 'Englishwoman or (Irish) man/woman in me'.

    'The + adjective' is used in the expression 'That's the (Irish/Japanese, whatever) in you!' My mother used to annoy me very much by ascribing all my faults to the Irish' in me. I thought this was rich considering her family was responsible for half of it.

    I wonder how often people talk of themselves in this way.
     
    Last edited:

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I wonder whether your apparent obsession with this concept (based on the spate of recent threads) is driven by some sort of expectation that English might share the Japanese form where the word for "Japanese person (made up of Japan + person)" is different and easily distinguished from that "Japanese language (Japan + language)" in a way that does not happen in English:) Or perhaps you feel excluded from the group of nationality adjectives where the indefinite article can be used:D
    This is independent of the acceptability of "I am a {nationality adjective}." which is the other discussion:)
    I am a British.:thumbsdown:
    I am a Japanese.:thumbsdown:
    I am a Canadian.:tick:
    I am a German.:tick:
    I am a French.:thumbsdown:
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I have a bit of the Japanese in me
    or
    I have a bit of the American in me
    These are extremely odd sentences in AE too. I think they are too odd to use. I don't really know what "a bit of the American" means, and I don't think anyone else knows either. Whatever it is, I am sure I don't have it "in me".

    "I have a bit of Japanese (blood) in me" is possible, but even that is uncommon. Usually people talk about their ancestry or their heritage. They might say "I am a little bit Japanese." But "have...in me" is an un-natural way to say "my ancestors were from...".

    We use that expression, but in a different way: a figurative way. We say things like:
    - I have a bit of the wanderer in me.
    - I have a bit of the scholar in me.
    - I have a bit of the housewife in me.

    These statements mean that these stereotypes match our personality.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Roger on all that. I am just a bit of after-depth-of-language-ish. Finding something that is not inscribed in dictionaries or grammar primers is exciting. Thank you all for your wonderful help.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    I agree with dojibear and others here. If you want to use an article and a nationality, you could say:

    I have a bit of the Irish temperament in me.

    Of course, that would depend on your listeners' knowing what you're talking about. Or on your subsequent explanations.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    [...]
    'The + adjective' is used in the expression 'That's the (Irish/Japanese, whatever) in you!' My mother used to annoy me very much by ascribing all my faults to the Irish' in me. I thought this was rich considering her family was responsible for half of it.
    [...]
    Would anyone say, "That's the Irishman in you" also? Sorry, I'm obsessed with this.:)
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Nobody says that, in my experience. It is not idiomatic and what would they say to a woman? or to somebody whose nationality doesn't have a -man/woman form? It isn't 'Irishman': it's simple 'Irish': Irish blood, ancestry, stereotypical temperament or tendencies.
    Let's say I have a friend who has a Japanese grandfather. She's extremely good at wrapping gifts. Would I say 'that's the Japanese man in you!'? No, of course not.
     
    Last edited:

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    But you would say "That's the gentleman in you," wouldn't you? Or "That's the Frenchman in you"?

    I trust Hermione on the answer here because Ireland and Irish people are right there near Great Britain; I don't trust my American knowledge/experience, and the only Irish person I ever knew was my mother. But is "the Irishman in you" really never used? It sounds okay to me.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    It sounds idiomatic enough to me in BE, if clearly spoken by a male, or referring to one.

    I take the point that a female wouldn't say it.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Just a thought, nobody would say 'You have a bit of Ireland in you' or 'You have a bit of Japan in you,' would they? To talk about their personality.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    I have never heard any Irish person, or any person connected to Ireland, say this. I can't think of any typical characteristics of Irish people that might make someone say this either.

    I suppose you could have a scenario where an Irish person is dancing tango and they're placing their arms really incorrectly. That person could jokingly say "Ah, that's the Irish dancer in me there" - because in solo Irish dancing there are no arm movements. But in cases like that, you would have to refer to something more specific than just "Irishman".

    If someone were drunk and another person said "That's the Irishman in you" well that would be taken as very offensive, because it is referring to a stereotype others have of Irish people.

    I hope that's helpful :)

    PS. "You have a bit of Ireland in you" is even more strange. Like you have some geographical feature of the country in you. :confused:
     
    Last edited:

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, Tegs, and thanks for your further input. It looks as though this usage is divided. Some say yes, some say no. You may be right, like you said, it's more plausible if you add a specific type of person.

    Right, a location in you is funny.:)

    Thanks again for your message, Tegs.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Syntactically and semantically, is the following sentence acceptable without 'the' and Englishman instead of 'English'??? If it's okay, which does it describe his personality or his heritage? I just heard someone say this.

    I have a bit of Englishman in me.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I think the thing about "A bit of the Irish in me/you" is that people say it quite often whether it's literally true of someone's ancestrty or not. I hear it now and again, usually meant warmly about someone's character. (It could be said negatively too: CONTEXT makes a huge difference here)

    But I never heard Irish MAN, for all the reasons already outlined above. And all of that's even more true of English because I can't recall anyone claiming English behaviour this way. Maybe if I lived in a different country I'd hear ex-pats say it about themselves if they were behaving in a sterotyped English way .. but I don't know. Even then I wouldn't expect "man" we don't need that to denote cliches about racial sterotypes.

    It might help you if you clarify that people talk about their actual heritage in a different way to how they might claim a bit of the stereotype. (Or be accused of being the sterotype). There are two (three) quite distinct contexts there. I am part Welsh because my grannie was from Wales but I would never say "It's the Welsh in me" to describe my family tree.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Good, and thanks, Suzi. Please allow me to ask you to clarify further:

    [1] That's the English in you. [personality]
    [2] It's the English in me that (does something) [personality]
    These two constructs require noun, i.e. Englishman/woman herein. I stand to be corrected, as I hear these too. I guess people get confused.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Good, and thanks, Suzi. Please allow me to ask you to clarify further:

    [1] That's the English in you. [personality]
    [2] It's the English in me that (does something) [personality]
    These two constructs require noun, i.e. Englishman/woman herein. I stand to be corrected, as I hear these too. I guess people get confused.
    Yes. I'm a man and I would use "Englishman" in both. I don't believe I'm confused.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "That's the Irishman in you"
    That's the Spanish in you! is something I hear a lot from my mother , as I have never been what she would call (and what she would have liked me to be) an English gentlewoman. The Spanish comes from my father's side, not hers, by the way. As the others have said this is a reference to my personality: my mother perceives me as more Mediterranean than English in character.

    This is all stereotyping, of course.:)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    These two constructs require noun, i.e. Englishman/woman herein.
    A few decades back, all of these sayings would be about "the Spanish blood in you" or "the Japanese blood in you". The missing noun is "blood". All these nationalities are traditionally adjectives modifying the noun "blood".

    Most people believe that people inherit some traits from ancestors. That is traditionally expressed as blood: "My blood is 1/2 Korean and 1/2 European".

    In modern scientific terms we might say "half my DNA is Korean and half my DNA is European". But DNA was discovered less than 70 years ago, while these expressions are much older.

    "I have some English in me" does not mean "I have a tiny little Englishman/woman living inside me". It means "My blood is partially English, because some of my ancestors were English".
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Could anyone please help me understand what 'In this usage the definite article paradoxically means you're talking about the class, not an individual' in post 2? I particularly cannot see paradoxically here. Your help would be highly appreciated. (I know 'class,' I know 'individual,' but I can clearly understand the whole sentence)

    Hiro
     
    Last edited:

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Does the use of paradoxically refer to the use of 'class?' Which is a group, and the noun could be written 'a (noun).' But because it represent the class; hence, the (noun)?
     
    A quote from the movie Casablanca:

    Captain Renault:
    I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Run off with a senator's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the Romantic in me.

    Rick:
    It was a combination of all three.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Thansk, london calling. Just like I expected. It should sound literal; you have a little mass of geographical Ireland in your bodoy.:)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top