Saturday, March 3, 2012

365 Days of Twinipedia - Day 76

Day Seventy-six of Twinipedia:

Fact #76
We are Irish. Pretty much 100% Irish. We come from Kellehers', Hayes', and Buckleys'...Now those are some Irish names. And we have heard the saying "Irish Twins" our whole lives since our older brother and sister are considered Irish Twins. I thought it would be fun to look up what exactly the definition of Irish Twins is and here is what I found.

  • At, the term is said to be used more generally to refer to any siblings born close together, particularly within the same calendar year.   The term is not used in Ireland.
    • Irish Twins is defined as a term originally used to mock the fertility of Irish Catholic families. It references a perception about families of Irish Catholics who may not use birth control (and thus may have children in quicker succession)  Irish twins in Latin is plurale tantum  
  • At the term is defined as a word used to describe two children born to the same mother in the same calendar year or within twelve months of each other. The phrase originated as a derogatory term associated with Irish immigration to the United States and England in the 1800's. The implication was that large groups of close-in-age siblings were the result of uneducated, poor Irish Catholic families' lack of birth control as well as self-control.  In modern use, the term is not intended as an insult, but rather a description of siblings born close together. Irish twins are not actually twins and they are not the same as having twins, which are defined as two siblings born from the same gestation.  Also Known As: Irish triplets when three children are born to the same mother within three years.  Examples: A mother gives birth to one baby in January of 2007 and another child in December of the same year. Or, alternatively, a mother births a child in August of 2007, becomes pregnant again in October, and gives birth to another child in July of 2008.
  • At, they share that What it means to be Irish Twins is easy enough to explain. It refers to siblings born in the same calendar year, or otherwise less than twelve months apart. It’s clearly a deeply derogatory comment about the stereotypical fecundity (and lack of contraception) of Irish Catholic families. It’s probably twentieth-century, but I can find little evidence that would help to tie it down (it may be relevant that it isn’t listed in the 1984 edition of Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English). So far as I can tell from the places I’ve found it, all online, it’s primarily an American expression; it’s also known in Britain, but it doesn’t often find its way into print, no doubt because it is considered offensive.  

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