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It's common at this time of year for adults to ask small children What's Santy bringing you? (awkward as this is for those of us who don't celebrate Christmas). Is this pronunciation of Santa unique to Ireland?

  • Of course there is a very funny line about "Santy Clause" in the movie Comnfort and Joy, but that is set in Scotland. – GEdgar Dec 19 '11 at 23:16
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    Sorry to break it to you, but Santy (Santa) doesn't exist anywhere. Don't tell the kids though. – slim Dec 20 '11 at 13:47
  • It would not be at all surprising to hear someone in the US say (to a small child) "What is Santy gonna bring ya?", or something of that nature. Or, in a sarcastic tone, ask an adult "Aw, was Santy mean to you?" when the queried party expresses some sort of post-Christmas dissatisfaction. In this latter case, using "Santy" vs "Santa" helps to reenforce that it's all tongue-in-cheek. – Hot Licks Oct 11 '15 at 21:56
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    It should be noted that in the US saying "Santy" vs "Santa" tends to mimic the rural drawl of folks from the Smoky Mountain region and points more or less due west of there, the traditional "country music" region. It fits so well that one might not even notice the difference if listening to someone with a "country" accent (whether real or synthetic). – Hot Licks Oct 11 '15 at 22:03

13 Answers 13

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I live in the US, and I have heard "Santy" from an aunt of mine. She was born in the US as well.

..... added ........ The Oxford English Dictionary, in the entry "Santa Claus" has 6 quotations with "Santy", starting from 1925. And some of those are American: Dreiser, Faulkner, etc.

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As an Englishman who lives in Ireland with an Irish wife and kids I can say that I never heard it until I came to Ireland. It's possible that it's more common in Dublin than in the rest of the country but I could just be making this up...

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  • We said it growing up in the northwest. So possibly it's generational rather than location. – Alan B Jun 6 '12 at 15:47
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I've heard it once in my life here in the U.S. We certainly have no shortage of such diminutives - dearie, doggy, Marty, Lindy - but that's one that seems to have dipped its toe in the Atlantic and decided the water was too cold to cross over.

A notable outlier is Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, in which the characters refer to the St. Nick character as "Sandy Claws".

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  • There's two scenes in Home Alone where Daniel Stern's character Marv uses 'Santy'. In one scene he says, "Santy don't visit the funeral homes, little buddy," and in another scene he says, "It's Santy Claus, and his elf." – David DeMar Dec 28 '16 at 5:45
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I have lived in Canada and USA for most of my life and I've never heard 'Santy'.

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    I've lived in the UK for all of my life (and thus probably heard more Irish people speaking), and I've never heard 'Santy'. But I will just say I think there's an increasing tendency for younger people to append -ee to words in general (or convert an existing final syllable with it). And there's always been a tendency to do this when speaking to babies and children. It may not be particularly "Irish" at all - perhaps OP just happens to be in a socioloinguistic group where this form has caught on with a number of "new parents". – FumbleFingers Dec 19 '11 at 23:12
  • I remember it from my own childhood, and I seem to remember older adults asking it. (I remember quite clearly because answering was a pain. I don't do Christmas.) But I've also heard it more recently. – TRiG Dec 19 '11 at 23:53
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There was a 1933 American cartoon short named "The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives".

Here it is on YouTube.

The first words spoken (by the small boy protagonist; in an American accent) are "Santy Claus!"

So, no, the pronunciation is not unique to Ireland, although from other people's answers, it seems to be rare in modern times.

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North-Eastern UK dialect allows for "Santy Claus", especially in Sunderland, where I'm from.

What do you want from Santy this year?

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There is an instance of 'Santy' in the (at least formerly) popular children's Christmas special Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too. Tigger says 'Santy', though I'm not sure if he's supposed to represent a demographic that speaks as he does. Having been raised on Winnie the Pooh, it would not surprise me if a person said 'Santy'.

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Adding to Ste's answer that Santy is used in Sunderland, it's also heard in Tyneside. It's mostly used by the older generation, in my experience.

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the Marx Brothers, through Chico's Italian-American-esque dialog in A Night at the Opera (USA, 1935), hints of either "Santy" or "Santa" clause. I always thought he was referencing the "Santy" version. the interpolation of "i" is the dialect-mangling, but the "y" suffix has no origin in the dialect (that I'm aware of).

Groucho: "That's in every contract, that's what you call a sanity clause."
Chico: "You can't a fool a me there ain't no sanity clause"

Additionally, the classic (ahem) film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (USA, 1964) has an 'a' in the title and and an 'a' in the spelled lyric, but the song Hooray for Santy Claus is pronounced and transcribed as Santy.

S-A-N-T-A, C-L-A-U-S
Hooray for Santy Claus!

You spell it S-A-N-T-A, C-L-A-U-S
Hooray for Santy Claus

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS2khYJZKwA
  2. http://www.marx-brothers.org/info/quotes.htm
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I've often heard it pronounced "Santy Claus" in old B&W movies and old-time radio shows. I think they did it to give a "down-home" effect, even here in the States. But nobody that I know here says Santy.

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In America, mostly the south, it's said ever now and then.

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    Welcome to ELU. Do you have any other references or examples to support your assertion? Anecdotal evidence is fine as far as it goes, but for future reference, please note that it's not likely to constitute an authoritative answer on its own. – JHCL Oct 11 '15 at 22:12
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If you've never seen a 1985 film called "Lost in America," I highly recommend it. The movie's hilarious.

Why am I mentioning a 30-year-old film? Because there's a very funny, memorable scene involving Garry Marshall and the phrase "Santy Claus." The scene takes place in Las Vegas, quite a distance from Ireland!

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    Welcome to EL&U. Your post doesn't answer the question and reads more like a comment. Please make sure that you take the tour and visit our help center for additional guidance. You can post a comment when you have more than 50 reputation points. – user140086 Jan 2 '16 at 2:26
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That smacks of shamrock and ethnic. It is certainly not the norm here in the USA.

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    Do you have any sources for this answer? – American Luke Dec 16 '13 at 18:08

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