Hiberno-English

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Hiberno-English is the dialect of English spoken in Ireland.[1] English was first brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion of Ireland[2] in the late 12th century. England was unable to control the country, and English was only spoken by a small minority of people inhabiting an area known as the Pale around Dublin. It was first introduced into Ireland on a wide scale during the Plantations of Ireland and the implementation of the subsequent Penal Laws.[3]

Nevertheless, it is only since the early-to-mid 19th century that English has been the majority language in Ireland;[4] indeed, the subsequent English spoken in Ireland has been greatly influenced by the interaction between the English and Irish languages.

Contents

Phonology

Hiberno-English retains many phonemic differentiations, which have merged in other English accents.

  • With some local exceptions, /r/ occurs postvocally, making most Hiberno-English dialects rhotic.[5] The exceptions to this are most notable in Drogheda and some other eastern towns, whose accent is distinctly non-rhotic. In Dublin English, a retroflex [ɻ] is used (much as in American English). This has no precedent in varieties of southern Irish English and is a genuine innovation of the past two decades. Mainstream varieties still use a non-retroflex [ɹ] (as in word-initial position). A uvular [ʁ] is found in north-east Leinster.[6] /r/ is pronounced as a postalveolar tap [ɾ] in conservative accents. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Jackie Healy-Rae are both good examples of this.
  • /t/ is not pronounced as a plosive where it does not occur word-initially in some Irish accents; instead, it is often pronounced as a slit fricative [θ̠].[5] or sibilant fricative.
  • The distinction between w /w/ and wh /hw/, as in wine vs. whine, is preserved.
  • There is some variation with the consonants that are dental fricatives in other varieties (/θ/ and /ð/); after a vowel, they may be dental fricatives or dental stops ([t̪ʰ] and [d̪] respectively) depending on speaker. Some dialects of Irish have a "slender" (palatalised) d as /ðʲ/ and this may transfer over to English pronunciation. In still others, both dental fricatives are present since slender dental stops are lenited to [θʲ] and [ðʲ].
  • The distinction between /ɒː/ and /oː/ in horse and hoarse is preserved, though not usually in Dublin or Belfast.
  • A distinction between [ɛɹ]-[ɪɹ]-[ʌɹ] in herd-bird-curd may be found.
  • /l/ is never velarised, except in (relatively recent) South Dublin English, often derisively termed D4 English, after the area where the accent predominates.
  • The vowels in words such as boat and cane are usually monophthongs outside of Dublin: [boːt], and [keːn].
  • The /aɪ/ in "night" may be pronounced in a wide variety of ways, e.g. [əɪ], [ɔɪ], [ʌɪ] and [ɑɪ], the latter two being the most common in middle class speech, the former two, in popular speech.
  • The /ɔɪ/ in "boy" may be pronounced [ɑːɪ] (i.e. the vowel of thought plus a y) in conservative accents (Henry 1957 for Co. Roscommon, Nally 1973 for Co. Westmeath).
  • In some varieties, speakers make no distinction between the [ʌ] in putt and the [ʊ] in put, pronouncing both as the latter. Bertz (1975) found this merger in working-class Dublin speech, and a fluctuation between merger and distinction in General Dublin English (quoted in Wells 1982). Nevertheless, even for those Irish people who, say, have a different vowel sound in put and cut, pairs such as putt and put, look and luck may be pronounced identically.
  • In some highly conservative varieties, words spelled with ea and pronounced with [iː] in RP are pronounced with [eː], for example meat, beat.
  • In words like took where "oo" usually represents /ʊ/, speakers may use /uː/. This is most common in working-class Dublin accents and the speech of North-East Leinster.
  • Any and many is pronounced to rhyme with nanny, Danny by very many speakers, i.e. with /a/.
  • /eɪ/ often becomes /ɛ/ in words such as gave and came (becoming "gev" and "kem")
  • Consonant clusters ending in /j/ often change.[citation needed]
    • /dj/ becomes /dʒ/, e.g. dew/due, duke and duty sound like "jew", "jook" and "jooty".
    • /tj/ becomes /tʃ/, e.g. tube is "choob", tune is "choon"
    • The following show neither dropping nor coalescence:
      • /kj/
      • /hj/
      • /mj/

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