About Ireland 🇮🇪 Special in the English World

Ireland stands out in the English-speaking world

That’s right! Talking about the green island — well, green, white and orange, if we want to get technical. Ireland is one of the most recognizable and influential English-speaking countries out there. Here we’ll explore some of the reasons behind that bold statement. We’ll also take a quick look at the geography, culture, and other aspects of this modern Celtic nation. Let’s do it!

Read more: the Actual English World; Geography

Profile & Stuff — Geography of Ireland

One thing that can get confusing about Ireland is … well, what it is. There’s the island (and smaller isles) of Ireland, yes, which holds two different countries on it. One — the one we’re talking about — is the Republic of Ireland, or Poblacht na hÉireann if you want to get fancy (we’ll just call it Ireland for simplicity’s sake). The other is the United Kingdom, which lays claim on the island by way of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland itself is a bit confusing, not necessarily a country, but maybe a special county, a semi-autonomous region, we don’t know for sure. 

Anyway, Ireland (the republic) is a bit easier to define. Unlike its Great British neighbors, Ireland is still in the EU. The rest of the UK sits just across the Irish Sea and the two entities have impacted each other for millennia now. Don’t check the watch on that one. 

Ireland’s capital is Dublin, which is also the biggest urban area. Even though about 40% of Ireland’s people live in this one region, there are still other major towns like Cork, Limerick, and Galway. Irish people themselves are pretty homogeneous, being in not too big of a place. Still, immigrant communities are present and well on the island, with many coming from other parts of Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and Brazil of all places.

rock formation beside sea under white sky, cliffs of Moher on Irish coast
Cliffs of Moher – Henrique Craveiro

Historically, Ireland has been divided into provinces. Namely, they are Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster. Today they don’t serve much of any administrative purpose, although they do hold value in other ways. Locally, the country is divided into 31 entities; that’s 26 counties, 3 cities, and 2 city-and-counties.

The climate in Ireland is temperate and maritime with mostly mild, cool weather. It can get super rainy but isn’t super snowy. These were great conditions for vast forests, although most of those have been cut down. Most the landscape these days is hilly and pastoral with green fields. A majority of the land is set aside for agriculture. There’s a general central plain that culminates in more highland areas around the edges, especially in the west. Much of the coast is rocky with cliffs. Cliff diving, anyone?

Irish Identity

What’s the craic, lads? C’mon, give me your best Irish accent! We all know it when we hear it, and that’s due in part to the iconic culture of this place. Common social values in Ireland have to do with their unique sense of humor, storytelling, and folklore, an interest in politics and philosophy, admiration for wit, open expression, and the arts, as well as a pride for (and conflict with) the tricky history of the nation. Who really wants to bring up Protestant discrimination, foreign conquest and assimilation, or the several devastating famines? Not me, my friend. 

This sense of pride, though, is one of the very reasons so many Irish abroad are quick to claim their origins. Often, even those with distant Irish descendants are happy to claim where their ancestry. This could be due in part to Irish last names being pretty easily identifiable. 

A lot of them come from Gaelic origin, with names like O’Reilly, O’Hara, MacDonald, McAvoy, Murphy, Flanagan, Kennedy, etc. Oh, and the Normans had something to do with it (Kilpatrick, Kilkenny, Fitzpatrick, Fitzgerald), and the Welsh (Walsh). But hey, there’s a lot more to it. Some of the most iconic parts of Irish culture come from Gaelic roots, such as certain musical styles, dance, dress, and sports. I mean, hurling and Gaelic football are mostly an Ireland thing.

.

Farming and small-town life are also significant aspects of Irish identity, given all those agricultural fields we mentioned earlier. Counties play a role in many people’s identities, shaping things like accent and team affiliations, among others. Dublin is a major cultural and arts center, tied in as one of Europe’s most important financial and technology hubs too. It’s also had a lot more English influence over the years as compared to rural Ireland, so Anglo-Irish ID is a bit stronger than elsewhere in the country. 

Irish Folklore

cute lady dressed in St. Patrick's Day outfit as a leprechaun, Irish folklore is known all over the English world
Respect the Lep – pxfuel

Irish folklore has also played a huge role in popular world folklore, especially in places like the U.S. and UK. Just think of how big Saint Patrick’s Day and shamrocks are outside of Ireland. Other major characters popularized (at least partially) by Irish storytellers include fairies, pixies, mermaids, the shapeshifting Pooka, the headless horseman, Dullahan, and most noteworthy of all, yes, leprechauns! Don’t know why I got all excited on that one.

Last one here, I wanted to mention Samhain (Saow-in). This traditional Celtic festival where turnips were used to scare away bad spirits would later evolve into today’s Halloween. Most of us use pumpkins instead of turnips now, but popular media have brought this spooky celebration all over the world. And it all stems back to pagan rituals. Imagine that.

Irish = Catholic?

After Gaelic culture, few things have influenced Irish identity and development like Catholicism. We know there’s a whole lot of controversy here, but what can I say? This Christian denomination is so crucial that it has basically been used as a major distinguisher between who is an “Irish national” and who is an “Irish Brit,” or just “Brit.” Irish from the republic are nominally a lot more Catholic, while those in Northern Ireland are a lot more Protestant. It could seem like a trivial difference, but centuries of squabbling and prejudice have really driven the fork deep between the two sides. 

Even though it’s been a major issue, on and off, many Northern Irish still consider themselves as simply “Irish.” There’s steady talk of Irish unification too. I don’t know enough about it to voice an opinion, and I’m sure not everyone is open to that happening. Still, it shows how there is some mutual respect and cooperation between the two sides of the island. 

The color green is often associated with the country on an international level. Despite conveniently being the color of clovers, it also is associated with the Catholic Church within Ireland (orange is associated with the Protestants). 

Speaking the Gaelic

Irish Gaelic or Gaelige is a co-official language with English. It used to be the main language of the people up to about a hundred or so years ago. At different points in history, Ireland was under the control of Great Britain or England. The most recent time during the Industrial Revolution saw a rise in literacy and other factors that grew the English-speaking population substantially, kind of merking those poor Gaelic speakers. Well, not the speakers themselves, but you get it.

Nowadays, Gaelic has struggled to keep up since many don’t really see a need to learn it. Most fluent speakers happen to be older or from rural areas where Gaelic culture is still strong. Cities or areas that have significant amounts of Gaelic speakers are called Gaeltacht, I’ve gathered. Since it’s not really spoken outside of Ireland, and only spoken by a small percentage within its own country, you can understand why it’s a hard one to sell, especially to the youngsters. 

Still, the language is mandatory in schools and most people know at least as much Gaelic as I know Spanish from my high school classes. There’s also a sense of revival for Gaelic in some communities, much like there is for lots of endangered languages around the globe. Despite not being fluently spoken by many, the language itself serves a sense of Celtic-rooted identity. 

Many words, idioms, and expressions have made their way into the local variety of English. The Irish accent, influenced by Gaelic tongues, Norman and Anglo-Saxon dialects, English, and the several other Gaelic and Brythonic languages nearby have all shaped each other and meshed to influence the local version of English we all recognize today. Cool stuff. 

To hear some people speaking in Gaelic and with Irish accents, watch and listen below!

.

Further Reading

“Rumour Has It” [Adele] – lyrics for English students

Flag of England.svg
.
A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
.

New post with new lyrics! This time we’ll look at the song “Rumour Has It” by Adele from her album 21. Check these lyrics for your English understanding and learn a bit more about informal terms or cultural points. I’ve taken notes on significantly incorrect grammar or words, and explained more about informal or culture-specific terms. As always I put a short explanation of what I think the song is about, if you’re interested. I’ll also leave the video here on top if you want to listen at the same time. Happy reading!

She, she ain’t real

  • *she isn’t real…

She ain’t gon’ be able to love you like I will

  • “she won’t be able…” also, “she isn’t going to be able…”

She is a stranger

You and I have history, or don’t you remember?

  • To “have history” with someone means to have some past experience with them, usually a long and complicated one. It’s often used to talk about people who were in a relationship together.

Sure, she’s got it all

But baby, is that really what you want?

Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds

  • “Bless your soul” is an interesting phrase. Even though it sounds kind of religious, it’s used a lot to refer to someone who is clueless or making some kind of mistake. It can be for innocent mistakes, like when you’re talking to a child, or for bigger mistakes like an adult would make. A similar phrase is “bless your heart” which is more common in the South of the U.S. “I’d like to order a file mignon.” “Oh, bless his heart. He doesn’t know we don’t serve that here.” Also, having your “head in the clouds” means to be daydreaming, thinking of impossible or useless ideas, or thinking about faraway places. It can be either a negative or positive thing.

She made a fool out of you and, boy, she’s bringin’ you down

  • She’s “bringing him down,” meaning she is making him feel worse or making his life worse. “Make a fool out of someone” is a good phrase too, meaning to make someone else look foolish or silly.

She made your heart melt, but you’re cold to the core

  • If your “heart melts” this means that you fall in love, basically. I think this is the same in many languages, but being “cold” is being heartless, without emotion, and without care for others. So cold to the core (to the center, deep down) is super cold, as emotionally cold as possible.

Now rumour has it, she ain’t got your love anymore

  • *“she doesn’t have your love…” Saying “rumour has it” is a popular way to start talking about a rumor or gossip. It let’s the other person know that what you’ll say is some kind of gossip. The spelling here is standard British, “rumour,” while in the U.S. (or North America?) it’s spelled “rumor.”

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

She is half your age

Poor guy, this is how rumors spread, Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

But I’m guessin’ that’s the reason that you strayed

  • To “stray” means to go off or run away without warning, usually in secret. We use this word to talk about pets a lot, like a stray cat or dog.

I heard you’ve been missin’ me

You’ve been tellin’ people things you shouldn’t be

Like when we creep out when she ain’t around

  • *“when she is not around…” To “creep out” or “creep” as a verb means to go places, usually secretively under cover of the dark. It has the idea of a snake, cat, or other creature crawling around at night. To be “around” just means to be present somewhere. So he creeps out when his girlfriend isn’t around.

Haven’t you heard the rumours? (Bless your soul)

Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds

You made a fool out of me and, boy, you’re bringin’ me down

You made my heart melt, yet I’m cold to the core

But rumour has it, I’m the one you’re leaving her for

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

All of these words whispered in my ear

Tell a story that I cannot bear to hear

  • This isn’t really a slang term, but learners might not be familiar with it. If you “cannot bear” something, it means you can’t stand it, you can’t handle it, you can’t take it, it’s too much, etc. Yes, it is spelled the same as “bear,” the animal.

Just ’cause I said it, it don’t mean that I meant it

  • *“Just because I said, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…” To “mean” something means to be sincere about it. For example, “I said I’m sorry. I mean it.” This is different from using “mean” to talk about a meaning or definition. “Hola means Hello in Spanish.”

People say crazy things

Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it

Just ’cause you heard it

Rumour has it (Rumour)

And the lyrics repeat.

Alrighty. This is not the typical romantic song. The story that the lyrics tell is a juicy one, like a soap opera. We have Adele secretly running around with a guy, seemingly her ex. He seems to have moved on, or they sound like they broke up. Still, he is going out with her at night, probably cheating on his current girlfriend, but won’t accept Adele during the day. It sounds like the guy left Adele for a younger woman, maybe someone shallow and outwardly pretty (she’s got it all, she ain’t real), but he secretly still likes the singer of this song. They seem to have a long history and some kind of real connection. The lyrics put us in this weird space where we don’t know if she’s upset and wants to forget this guy or if she is proud that he still wants to be with her deep down. She’s obviously been affected by him, since he did make her heart melt and no one can love him like she can. It’s a different take on romantic relationships, betrayal, and secret desires. Good stuff.

Tell me, y’all, what songs do you want me to explain? I’m waiting on my first comments here and I would love to do a song that you guys are interested in. What do you say? Comment what you thought of this song. Do you love Adele? Does this sound like a relationship you’ve been in? Tell me your thoughts, or email me directly at tietewaller@gmail.com

“Carnies” [Martina Topley-Bird] – lyrics for English Students

Flag of England.svg
.
A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
.

Fun and games are coming to town … and all the crying and drama that go along with them. Read the lyrics and explanations of “Carnies” song by Martina Topley-Bird, and learn some new English terms! And don’t forget to read a fuller explanation, comment, and watch the music video below–>

Ferris wheels and cotton candy

  • I’ll stick some images here in case you don’t know these.
A Ferris wheel, Photo by Amanda Cottrell on Pexels.com

The folks try to stall as the kids get antsy

  • “Folks” is another word for people in general. Usually used to talk about a certain group of people together. It can also be used to talk about one’s parents. “I’m going to visit my folks this weekend.” To “stall” is to hesitate or stop completely. In a more figurative way, it also means to distract from the main point. “Stop stalling and just tell the story!” And “antsy” means restless, like when someone can’t sit still.

They sit there complaining there’s nothing else to do

So we pick up our coats and go down to the fair

  • Just a note, “fair” as a noun usually refers to a kind of carnival with rides, games, and snacks. For example, in many places in America, we have county fairs. The biggest kinds are World’s Fairs.
Some cotton candy, Photo by Mariana Kurnyk on Pexels.com

Who knows what we’ll find when we get there?

Eyes will be streaming, faces split in two

  • “Eyes streaming” has the sense of a river or stream flowing. This probably means that kids will be crying, probably because they don’t want to leave. “Faces split in two” reminds me of the classic symbol of theater or drama with a mask that is half happy and half sad. This imagery tells how people at the fair will be a mixture of happy and sad faces.
classic comedy/tragedy masks, at Foundry Brothers

Carnies have come to town

  • “Carnies” is the same as a carnival or fair. It is more of a British slang, if I’m not mistaken, since we don’t use it as much in the U.S. Saying something “has come to town” means that it has come or arrived in your area. Whether you’re talking about a town, city, or rural area, you can always use “come to town” to talk about an event coming to your area.

If they stay, will you hang around?

  • To “hang around” just means to stay or remain somewhere. She could also say “Will you hang?” and it means the same thing. A similar phrase is “stick around.” “Will you stick around for Christmas too?”

Lately where have you gone?

  • “Lately” is such a good word! I think it could be a little confusing for English learners. It is basically the same as recently, or in recent days. “What’ve you been doing lately (in recent days)?”

I’ve been waiting for so long

When will you come back?

Say what you want life’s too good to be true

Jump start me after I’m through the sunroof

  • To “jump-start” something is to give it a big push, almost like you’re so excited to start or to go somewhere. The idea comes from track racing. When someone jump starts, they start running before the race even begins. A “sunroof” is the part of a car’s roof that opens up so you can see the sky. The idea is of Martina jumping out of the roof of her car.
Someone “jumping thru their sunroof”, Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Soon I’ll be home but I don’t know if you will too

Carnies have come to town

If they stay, will you hang around?

Lately where have you gone?

I’ve been waiting for so long

When will you come back?

Carnies is such a fun word. As I said above, it’s more of a British slang from my understanding, since fair or carnival are more common in the U.S. Regardless, I feel like this song really captures the mysterious, fun, and dramatic sense of being at a fair. Fun, games, candy and rides go together with whining children and stressed parents. Besides all that, Martina seems to be missing someone in her lyrics, wondering where they went and if they’ll come back. Part of her wondering might be about the fair itself and when it will come back to her town. But she also seems to be remembering specific experiences with this “mystery person” of when they used to go to carnies, maybe when they were kids. It’s a song full of magical vibes and nostalgia, for sure.

Tell me what you think! Have you ever been to a carny? Is there something from your childhood that you feel nostalgic about? Let me know if you liked this song, and if there is another song you want to see here. Just shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!

And watch the video people 🙂

“20 Dollar” [M.I.A.] – lyrics for English students

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
.
Flag of Sri Lanka
.

AK’s and goat fry. Read the song lyrics below and learn some new English idioms, phrases, or cultural explanations. And don’t forget to watch the video and read more below!

War! War! War!

Talking about y’all’s such a bore

  • *Talking about you all is …

I’d rather talk about moi

  • “Moi” means “me” in French.

Like do you know the cost of AK’s up in Africa?

  • I’m sure you know, AK’s, or AK-47’s, are a type of assault rifle, probably the most referenced rifle in pop culture. Also, saying “up in” someplace is just a more colorful way to say “in” someplace. The “up” has no real meaning here.
AK-47 – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre
An AK-47 from Wikipedia

20 dollars ain’t s*** to you

  • 20 dollars isn’t… Saying that something “ain’t s**” or “isn’t worth s***” means it isn’t worth anything, doesn’t mean anything, or it has a super low value/cost.

But that’s how much they are

So they’re gonna use the s*** just to get far

  • To “go far” or “get far” usually means to become successful. “You have a great voice! You’re going to go far.” It can also mean to escape a current situation.

Is gold, diamonds helping ya?

  • *Are gold and diamonds helping you? “Ya” is a popular way for many English speakers to pronounce “you” informally.

Don’t you like my bandanna?

  • A bandanna is usually worn on the face of criminals, like bandits. It can also be used by liberation fighters, protestors, or rebels, which is what I assume M.I.A. is referring to.
Classic Black Paisley Bandana | Apparel @ Hoo-rag
A pandemic-style bandanna from Hoorag

My stains hang low, on my shirt’s like “Ay-ya-ya!

  • “Stains” might represent bloodstains, as with someone who has been fighting a tough battle. This phrase probably comes from a song by Jibbs called “Chain Hang Low.” It’s a hip-hop song that came out a year before this one, so it might have influenced M.I.A.’s lyric here. Stain rhymes with chain. That last “ay-ya-ya” is just something you might say if you’re stressed, upset, or confused. Listen to “Chain’s Hang Low” here.

Got monkey brains and banana

  • *I’ve got… “Monkey brains” or “banana brains” is another way of saying that someone has disorganized and wild thoughts, or that they’re a little crazy. A similar phrase is something is bananas. “This beat is bananas!”

I’ll hit you with my antenna

  • She is talking about a radio antenna. To “hit” someone, besides physically striking them, can also be to figuratively strike them. You can hit someone with a song, with some advice, or with your opinion, for example. Basically, M.I.A. will “hit” us with her music and her style on the radio. Also, hitting someone with a thin metal stick, like an antenna, makes me think of beating or whipping someone for discipline.

I put soap in my eye

Make it red so I look rawr-rawr-rawr!

  • I can’t tell if she’s saying “rawr” or “raw.” Either way, her red eyes will make her look scary, intimidating, or really cool. “Raw” in slang also has these meanings. “Rawr” is the sound a big cat makes, like a lion or tiger. Could be something to do with the Tamil Tigers, a guerrilla group in Sri Lanka that influenced M.I.A.’s family and ancestral country.

So I woke up with my Holy Quran and found out I like Cadillac

  • The way she says “Cadillac” almost sounds like she’s saying “Allah,” meaning God in Arabic. This plays with the previous line about the Quran. Cadillac is an American brand and a representation of a strong, American product. This line might mean that she read the Quran (the Arab/Eastern world) and decided she preferred the Cadillac (the American/Western world). Or, she read the Quran (religion) and decided she preferred a Cadillac (consumerism, buying things, earthly things). There could be a lot of interpretations from this quick lyric.

So we’re shooting until the song is up

  • If something “is up,” that means it ends. This is represented in the phrase, “You’re time is up.” Your time is finished.

Little boys are acting up

  • To “act up” is to be bad or misbehave. Kids are good at acting up.

And baby mothers are going crazy

  • This is related to “baby mama” which is a very popular way to refer to the mother of someone’s child. It has turned into a pop-culture reference to a certain class of people that is uneducated, has lots of babies outside of marriage, and is usually lower class or has bad taste. “What are you gonna do if you quit school? Turn into some guy’s baby mama?”

And the leaders all around cracking up

  • *And the leaders are all around … To “crack up” here means to laugh a lot, or laugh really loudly. “That joke always cracks me up!”

We goat-rich, we fry

  • *We’re goat rich… “Goat rich” isn’t a very popular term at least in American English. I can imagine that it refers to someone who has a lot of goats or livestock (animals for farming and produce). So M.I.A. and the people she represents are not rich in money, but have lots of livestock and make money in a simple, humble, and traditional way. In lots of poorer countries or regions, people still live off of trading and raising animals. Also, adding “rich” after a noun means that you have as much wealth as that thing. “I’m not Zuckerberg rich, but I make good money.”

Price of living in a shanty town just seems very high

  • *The price of … A shanty town is a type of improvised community for people who are either poor or live in extreme poverty. They are usually made of wood, tarp and other plastic, or anything sturdy enough to build a small improvised home. In some countries, these communities can be more dangerous, hold gang activity, trafficking, or just have bad sanitation. Another word for the same idea is “slum.” Shanty towns often start as temporary camps or communities that evolve over time into permanent neighborhoods or miniature towns. That’s why the price (emotionally, or for one’s wellbeing) of living in one can be high.
Shanty town along the Mekong River - Picture of Sundance Riverside Hotel,  Phnom Penh - Tripadvisor
A common shanty town/slum, TripAdvisor

But we still like T.I.

  • T.I. is a famous rapper from the U.S. who represents Atlanta, Georgia. This line can mean that even though they live in poor conditions, they still listen to American music, or hip hop, and still like to have fun.

But we still look fly

  • To “look fly” is to be dressed really nicely or have good style in appearance.

Dancing as we’re shooting up

  • Again, the “up” doesn’t necessarily have meaning. They might be shooting “up” into the sky, or shooting up a place (shooting it a bunch of times). This is similar to the idea to “beat up,” meaning to beat or hit a bunch of times.

And looting just to get by

  • To “loot” is to steal. It’s more of an old-fashioned word, and in the U.S. it reminds most people of pirates who would loot other ships. Also, “loot” can be an informal term for money, in general. Of course, to “get by” means to survive some situation or to get through something difficult.

With your feet on the air

Your head on the ground

Try this trick and spin it – yeah!

Your head’ll collapse when there’s nothin’ in it

And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind?

  • These four lines of the chorus were taken from a song by Pixies, “Where is My Mind.” Besides that, it’s just a really cool, trippy, interesting thing to put into a song. Listen to “Where is My Mind” here.

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

War! War! War!

Who made me like this?

Was it me and God in co-production?

My Devil’s on speed-dial

  • To have someone on “speed-dial” is to have their number saved and easily accessible. Basically, it means they’re the first person you call when you want something or they are your favorite person to talk to.

Every time I take the wrong direction

All I want is one thing and that is what you got

  • *that is what you’ve got. Or *that is what you have. To me, it also sounds like she could be saying “and that is what you want.” Either way, she wants what someone else has or desires.

Sometimes I go lose my mind, and I feel numb

There’s 24 hours in a day

  • *There are 24 hours …

I used to spilt it 8, 8, 8

That’s 8 – work, 8 – sleep, 8 for play!

Now I give it all it takes

  • To “give it all it takes” is to put in full effort, try as hard as you can.

Got people on the Internet with a new lack for the intellect

  • *You have people on … People on the internet have created a new way to be stupid, basically (lack of intellect). It almost sounds like she’s saying “a new life for the intellect,” but I’m not sure. “Lack” makes more sense to me, it sounds more like what she says, and it’s funnier.

People judge me so hard ’cause I don’t floss my titty set

  • *so hard because I don’t … To “floss” something means to show it off to others. This was before the “floss” dance, but it might be related (?). Titty is kind of a controversial word, and to lots of people, it can be offensive. I just wanted to note that it is a woman’s breast or boob.

I was born out of dirt like I’m porn in a skirt

  • I almost forgot to mention! So “dirty” can refer to something that is covered in dirt and has bad hygiene. It can also mean something that is naughty, sexual, or sleezy. So “dirt” here has a double meaning.

I was a little girl who made good, well au revoir, adieu

  • To “make good” is to make success or be successful at something. It usually has to do with monetary success. “Au revoir” and “adieu” mean See you later, and Goodbye in French. In many places of the English world, France is seen as a place that is rich, fancy, and high class. M.I.A. repeating French words in this song can be a reference to how other people might see her as fancy and high class now that she is making music on the radio and becoming famous. For her, this was especially true in the late 2000s.

I put people on the map that never seen a map

  • *that have never seen … Also, to be “put on the map” means that someone gets discovered by lots of people. They become a landmark much like the Statue of Liberty of Eiffel Tower (since we’re talking about France).

I’ve showed ’em something they’ve never seen

And hope they make it back!

  • “Make it back” here means to survive some wild situation, to come out on top, and to overcome. Think of a soldier “making it back” home after a war.

Then the lyrics repeat.

Sooo … This song is close and dear to my heart. It’s a song that made me fall in love with M.I.A., partly because of the weird and crazy instrumental, buzzing sounds, and her ominous chanting all throughout the song. But the lyrics are certainly a big source of my love for this song. It’s kind of a random song and the lyrics touch on multiple different issues. Most of the song is about M.I.A.’s newfound success and international fame, and how she is dealing with it. She talks about her humble beginnings, places she’s been and how hard life is in those places. She’s made success, but she doesn’t forget where she’s been. She definitely won’t let her listeners forget that there are places in the world where people make a living frying goats or where guns only cost 20 dollars, even if in the world of fame and fortune, that cost means almost nothing.

What did you think of this song? Can you understand her struggle between ridiculous wealth and cruel poverty? Do you know what M.I.A. stands for? Let me know in the comments! As always, if you want to send me a message or suggest a song for me to do next, please send me an email! tietewaller@gmail.com

Oh, and please listen to this song!

“Jesus He Knows Me” [Genesis] – lyrics for English students

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue

Watch the video below –>

D’you see the face on the TV screen coming at you every Sunday? _ See the face on the billboard? _ Well, that man is me

  • *Do you see the face…? He says Sunday as a reference to being a holy or spiritual figure.

On the cover of a magazine _ There’s no question why I’m smiling _ You buy a piece of paradise, you buy a piece of me

  • Buying a piece of paradise has the same feeling as buying a plot of land as if going to heaven were a business transaction.

I’ll get you everything you wanted _ I’ll get you everything you need _ You don’t need to believe in the hereafter

  • The “hereafter” is another way to talk about life after death.

Just believe in me _ ‘Cause Jesus, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ I’ve been talking to Jesus _ All my life _ Oh yes, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ Well, he’s been telling me everything is alright _ I believe in the family _ With my ever-loving wife beside me

  • Putting “ever” before some verbs can make them mean that something is lasting or persisting. “He is ever talking about that same TV show.” Ever-loving is the most popular usage, though, especially in music.

But she don’t know about my girlfriend _ Or the man I met last night

  • *She doesn’t know about… His wife doesn’t know about his undercover actions. It presents how, often, people who show to be perfect in front of others have problems and secrets like anyone else, even religious leaders.

Do you believe in God? _ ‘Cause that is what I’m selling

  • He’s using the image or idea of God to make money and fame.

And if you wanna get to heaven _ Well, I’ll see you right

  • “I’ll see you right” means that he’ll make what you want happen.

You won’t even have to leave your house _ Or get out of your chair _ You don’t even have to touch that dial _ ‘Cause I’m everywhere

  • “Don’t touch that dial” has been a popular phrase on TV commercials and programs where the presenter tries to keep the attention of the audience. “Dial” is another word for “remote control.” He’s “everywhere” references the omnipresence of God, being everywhere. However, he is everywhere in the sense of media, like on TV, magazines, radio, etc. He’s also making it as easy as possible to participate in his “scheme,” since you can even join inside your house from a chair.

Jesus, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ I’ve been talking to Jesus _ All my life _ Oh yes, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ Well, he’s been telling me everything’s gonna be alright _ Won’t find me practicing what I’m preaching

  • *You won’t find me… “Practice what you preach” is a common way to say that someone actually does (or should do) what they say they are going to do. “You need to practice what you preach, man.”

Won’t find me making no sacrifice

  • Double negatives! *You won’t find me making any sacrifices. He might be using incorrect grammar on purpose to show the ignorance or lack of professionalism of the types of people who try to cheat others.

But I can get you a pocketful of miracles

  • This “pocketful of miracles” sounds like it’s from a book or movie. Sometimes using “a pocketful” makes the object a lot more dreamy and positive. Think of that song “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield.

If you promise to be good, try to be nice _ God will take good care of you _ Well, just do as I say, don’t do as I do

  • It sounds like a church sermon! Except at the end, there is a twist. The ultimate phrase of a hypocrite.

Well, I’m counting my blessings _ As I’ve found true happiness _ ‘Cause I’m a-getting richer _ Day by day

  • To “count blessings” is to show gratitude or think of ways that you are grateful for something. He says, “I’m a-getting—” It’s an old-fashioned way to talk, but used nowadays sarcastically. It doesn’t really mean anything itself. “He’s a-running, he’s a-going!”

You can find me in the phone book _ Just call my toll-free number

  • “Call our toll-free number” is a popular phrase in advertising to get people to call and ask about a product. It means that the call is free.

You can do it any way you want _ Just do it right away

  • “Right away” means “right now,” just in case you didn’t know.

And there’ll be no doubt in your mind _ You’ll believe everything I’m saying _ If you wanna get closer to Him _ Get on your knees and start paying

  • “Him” with a capital “H” is used to refer to God or Jesus, generally. He plays with the idea of getting on your knees to pray, but he says instead to pay. Essentially, the “worship” is directed toward him and not to God. Again, hypocrisy.

Cause Jesus, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ I’ve been talking to Jesus _ All my life _ Oh yes, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ Well, he’s been telling me everything’s gonna be alright

  • It seems like he is two people in this song. Phil as a preacher is saying that Jesus knows he’s right and supports his claims. This is how corrupt religious leaders justify their followers’ having to pay for services, saying that “Jesus knows I’m right!” But, Phil as the singer of Genesis is saying that he knows what Jesus wants and, maybe, it’s to prove how corrupt these false leaders are. It might not really be about Jesus, but about pure intentions vs. corruption and hypocrisy, since I’m not sure if Genesis were ever religious or not.

And the lyrics repeat.

Watch and listen here: