Hiberno-English

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Hiberno‐English or Irish English1 is the set of English dialects natively written and spoken on the island of Ireland (Latin: Hibernia), including within the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland.2 It comprises a number of sub-varieties, such as Ulster English, Dublin English, Cork English and Limerick English.

English was brought to Ireland as a result of the Norman invasion of the late 12th century. Initially, it was mainly spoken in an area known as the Pale around Dublin, with mostly Irish spoken throughout the rest of the country. By the Tudor period, Irish culture and language had regained most of the territory lost to the colonists: even in the Pale, "all the common folk… for the most part are of Irish birth, Irish habit, and of Irish language".3 However, the English conquest and colonisation of Ireland in the 16th century marked a revival in the use of English. By the mid-19th century, English was the majority language spoken in the country.a It has retained this status to the present day, with even those whose first language is Irish being fluent in English as well.

Modern Hiberno-English has some features influenced by the Irish language and it also retains some archaic English elements. Most of these are more used in the spoken language than in formal written language, which is much closer to Standard British English, with a few differences in vocabulary. Unlike the United States and Canada, Ireland does not have its own spelling rules and uses British English spelling.

Vocabulary

Loan words from Irish

A number of Irish-language loan words are used in Hiberno-English, particularly in an official state capacity. For example, the head of government is the Taoiseach, the deputy head is the Tánaiste, the parliament is the Oireachtas and its lower house is Dáil Éireann. Less formally, people also use loan words in day-to-day speech, although this has been on the wane in recent decades and among the young.5

Derived words from Irish

Another group of Hiberno-English words are those derived from the Irish language. Some are words in English that have entered into general use, while others are unique to Ireland. These words and phrases are often Anglicised versions of words in Irish or direct translations into English. In the latter case, they often give a meaning to a word or phrase that is generally not found in wider English use.

Derived words from Old and Middle English

Another class of vocabulary found in Hiberno-English are words and phrases common in Old and Middle English, but which have since become obscure or obsolete in the modern English language generally. Hiberno-English has also developed particular meanings for words that are still in common use in English generally.

Other words

In addition to the three groups above, there are also additional words and phrases whose origin is disputed or unknown. While this group may not be unique to Ireland, their usage is not widespread, and could be seen as characteristic of the language in Ireland.

Grammar and syntax

The syntax of the Irish language is quite different from that of English. Various aspects of Irish syntax have influenced Hiberno-English, though many of these idiosyncrasies are disappearing in suburban areas and among the younger population.

The other major influence on Hiberno-English that sets it apart from modern English in general is the retention of words and phrases from Old- and Middle-English.

From Irish

Reduplication

Reduplication is an alleged trait of Hiberno-English strongly associated with stage-Irish and Hollywood films.

  • the Irish ar bith corresponds to English "at all", so the stronger ar chor ar bith gives rise to the form "at all at all".
    • "I've no money at all at all."
  • ar eagla go … (lit. "on fear that …") means "in case …". The variant ar eagla na heagla, (lit. "on fear of fear") implies the circumstances are more unlikely. The corresponding Hiberno-English phrases are "to be sure" and "to be sure to be sure". In this context, these are not, as might be thought, disjuncts meaning "certainly"; they could better be translated "in case" and "just in case". Nowadays normally spoken with conscious levity.
    • "I brought some cash in case I saw a bargain, and my credit card to be sure to be sure."

Yes and no

Irish lacks words that directly translate as "yes" or "no", and instead repeats the verb used in the question, negated if necessary, to answer. Hiberno-English uses "yes" and "no" less frequently than other English dialects as speakers can repeat the verb, positively or negatively, instead of (or in redundant addition to) using "yes" or "no".

  • "Are you coming home soon?" – "I am."
  • "Is your mobile charged?" – "It isn't."

Recent past construction

Irish indicates recency of an action by "after" is added to the present continuous (a verb ending in "-ing"), a construction known as the "hot news perfect" or "after perfect".9091 The idiom for "I had done X when I did Y" is "I was after doing X when I did Y", modelled on the Irish usage of the compound prepositions i ndiaidh, tar éis, and in éis: bhí mé tar éis/i ndiaidh/in éis X a dhéanamh, nuair a rinne mé Y.

A similar construction is seen where exclamation is used in describing a recent event:

  • "I'm after hitting him with the car!" Táim tar éis é a bhualadh leis an gcarr!
  • "She's after losing five stone in five weeks!"

When describing less astonishing or significant events, a structure resembling the German perfect can be seen:

  • "I have the car fixed." Tá an carr deisithe agam.
  • "I have my breakfast eaten." Tá mo bhricfeasta ite agam.

This correlates with an analysis of "H1 Irish" proposed by Adger & Mitrovic,92 in a deliberate parallel to the status of German as a V2 language.

Reflection for emphasis

The reflexive version of pronouns is often used for emphasis or to refer indirectly to a particular person, etc., according to context. Herself, for example, might refer to the speaker's boss or to the woman of the house. Use of herself or himself in this way often indicates that the speaker attributes some degree of arrogance or selfishness to the person in question. Note also the indirectness of this construction relative to, for example, She's coming now

  • "'Tis herself that's coming now." Is í féin atá ag teacht anois.
  • "Was it all of ye or just yourself?" Ar sibhse go léir ná tusa féin a bhí i gceist?

This is not limited only to the verb to be: it is also used with to have when used as an auxiliary; and, with other verbs, the verb to do is used. This is most commonly used for intensification, especially in Ulster English.

  • "This is strong stuff, so it is."
  • "We won the game, so we did."

Prepositional pronouns

There are some language forms that stem from the fact that there is no verb to have in Irish. Instead, possession is indicated in Irish by using the preposition at, (in Irish, ag.). To be more precise, Irish uses a prepositional pronoun that combines ag "at" and "me" to create agam. In English, the verb "to have" is used, along with a "with me" or "on me" that derives from Tá … agam. This gives rise to the frequent

  • "Do you have the book?" – "I have it with me."
  • "Have you change for the bus on you?"
  • "He will not shut up if he has drink taken."

Somebody who can speak a language "has" a language, in which Hiberno-English has borrowed the grammatical form used in Irish.

  • She does not have Irish. Níl Gaeilge aici. literally "There is no Irish at her".

When describing something, many Hiberno-English speakers use the term "in it" where "there" would usually be used. This is due to the Irish word ann (pronounced "oun" or "on") fulfilling both meanings.

  • "Is it yourself that is in it?" An tú féin atá ann?
  • "Is there any milk in it?" An bhfuil bainne ann?

Another idiom is this thing or that thing described as "this man here" or "that man there", which also features in Newfoundland English in Canada.

  • "This man here." An fear seo. (cf. the related anseo = here)
  • "That man there." An fear sin. (cf. the related ansin = there)

Conditionals have a greater presence in Hiberno-English due to the tendency to replace the simple present tense with the conditional (would) and the simple past tense with the conditional perfect (would have).

  • "John asked me would I buy a loaf of bread." (John asked me to buy a loaf of bread.)
  • "How do you know him? We would have been in school together." (We went to school together.)

Bring and take: Irish use of these words differs from that of British English because it follows the Gaelic grammar for beir and tóg. English usage is determined by direction; person determines Irish usage. So, in English, one takes "from here to there", and brings it "to here from there". In Irish, a person takes only when accepting a transfer of possession of the object from someone else – and a person brings at all other times, irrespective of direction (to or from).

  • Don't forget to bring your umbrella with you when you leave.
  • (To a child) Hold my hand: I don't want someone to take you.

To be

The Irish equivalent of the verb "to be" has two present tenses, one (the present tense proper or "aimsir láithreach") for cases which are generally true or are true at the time of speaking and the other (the habitual present or "aimsir ghnáthláithreach") for repeated actions. Thus, "you are [now, or generally]" is tá tú, but "you are [repeatedly]" is bíonn tú. Both forms are used with the verbal noun (equivalent to the English present participle) to create compound tenses.

The corresponding usage in English is frequently found in rural areas, especially Mayo/Sligo in the West of Ireland and Wexford in the south-east, along with border areas of the North and Republic. In this form, the verb "to be" in English is similar to its use in Irish, with a "does be/do be" (or "bees", although less frequently) construction to indicate the continuous, or habitual, present:

  • "He does be working every day." Bíonn sé ag obair gach lá.
  • "They do be talking on their mobiles a lot." Bíonn siad ag caint go leor ar a fóin póca.
  • "He does be doing a lot of work at school." Bíonn sé ag déanamh go leor oibre ar scoil.
  • "It's him I do be thinking of." Is air a bhíonn mé ag smaoineamh.

From Old and Middle English

In old-fashioned usage, "it is" can be freely abbreviated ’tis, even as a standalone sentence. This also allows the double contraction ’tisn’t, for "it is not".

Irish has separate forms for the second person singular () and the second person plural (sibh). Mirroring Irish, and almost every other Indo European language, the plural you is also distinguished from the singular in Hiberno-English, normally by use of the otherwise archaic English word ye [jiː]; the word yous (sometimes written as youse) also occurs, but primarily only in Dublin and across Ulster. In addition, in some areas in Leinster, north Connacht and parts of Ulster, the hybrid word ye-s, pronounced "yis", may be used. The pronunciation differs with that of the northwestern being [jiːz] and the Leinster pronunciation being [jɪz].

  • "Did ye all go to see it?" Ar imigh sibh go léir chun é a fheicint?
  • "None of youse have a clue!" Níl ciall/leid ar bith agaibh!
  • "Are ye not finished yet?" Nach bhfuil sibh críochnaithe fós?
  • "Yis are after destroying it!" Tá sibh tar éis é a scriosadh!

The word ye, yis or yous, otherwise archaic, is still used in place of "you" for the second-person plural. Ye'r, Yisser or Yousser are the possessive forms, e.g. "Where are yous going?"

The verb mitch is very common in Ireland, indicating being truant from school. This word appears in Shakespeare, but is seldom heard these days in British English, although pockets of usage persist in some areas (notably South Wales, Devon, and Cornwall). In parts of Connacht and Ulster the mitch is often replaced by the verb scheme, while Dublin it is replaced by "on the hop/bounce".

Another usage familiar from Shakespeare is the inclusion of the second person pronoun after the imperative form of a verb, as in "Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed" (Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene IV). This is still common in Ulster: "Get youse your homework done or you're no goin' out!" In Munster, you will still hear children being told, "Up to bed, let ye" [lɛˈtʃi]

For influence from Scotland see Ulster Scots and Ulster English.

Other grammatical influences

Now is often used at the end of sentences or phrases as a semantically empty word, completing an utterance without contributing any apparent meaning. Examples include "Bye now" (= "Goodbye"), "There you go now" (when giving someone something), "Ah now!" (expressing dismay), "Hold on now" (= "wait a minute"), "Now then" as a mild attention-getter, etc. This usage is universal among English dialects, but occurs more frequently in Hiberno-English. It is also used in the manner of the Italian 'prego' or German 'bitte', for example a barman might say "Now, Sir." when delivering drinks.

So is often used for emphasis ("I can speak Irish, so I can"), or it may be tacked onto the end of a sentence to indicate agreement, where "then" would often be used in Standard English ("Bye so", "Let's go so", "That's fine so", "We'll do that so"). The word is also used to contradict a negative statement ("You're not pushing hard enough" – "I am so!"). (This contradiction of a negative is also seen in American English, though not as often as "I am too", or "Yes, I am".) The practice of indicating emphasis with so and including reduplicating the sentence's subject pronoun and auxiliary verb (is, are, have, has, can, etc.) such as in the initial example, is particularly prevalent in more northern dialects such as those of Sligo, Mayo and the counties of Ulster.

Sure is often used as a tag word, emphasising the obviousness of the statement, roughly translating as but/and/well. Can be used as "to be sure", the famous Irish stereotype phrase. (But note that the other stereotype of "Sure and …" is not actually used in Ireland.) Or "Sure, I can just go on Wednesday", "I will not, to be sure." "Sure Jaysus [Jesus]" is often used as a very mild expletive to express dismay. The word is also used at the end of sentences (primarily in Munster), for instance "I was only here five minutes ago, sure!" and can express emphasis or indignation.

To is often omitted from sentences where it would exist in British English. For example, "I'm not allowed go out tonight", instead of "I'm not allowed to go out tonight".

Will is often used where British English would use "shall" or American English "should" (as in "Will I make us a cup of tea?"). The distinction between "shall" (for first-person simple future, and second- and third-person emphatic future) and "will" (second- and third-person simple future, first-person emphatic future), maintained by many in England, does not exist in Hiberno-English, with "will" generally used in all cases.

Once is sometimes used in a different way from how it is used in other dialects; in this usage, it indicates a combination of logical and causal conditionality: "I have no problem laughing at myself once the joke is funny." Other dialects of English would probably use "if" in this situation.

Pronunciation and phonology

Major dialects and accents

Modern phonologists often divide Irish English into five major varieties:9394

  • Northern Irish English (or Ulster English) here refers collectively to the varieties of the Ulster province, which has been influenced by Ulster Irish as well as the Scots language, brought over by Scottish settlers during the Plantation of Ulster. Its two main subdivisions are South Ulster English—spoken in south Armagh, south Monaghan, south Fermanagh, south Donegal and north Cavan,959697—and Mid-Ulster English, which is spoken in the area north of this, including the main cities of Belfast and Derry, and has more speakers.
  • Local Dublin English (or Popular Dublin English) here refers to a traditional, broad, working-class variety spoken in the Republic of Ireland's capital of Dublin.
  • Non-Local Dublin English here refers collectively to non-localised and more recent varieties of Dublin and the surrounding eastern region of Ireland, including middle-class Mainstream Dublin and post-1970 youthful New Dublin (or Fashionable Dublin). The once-briefly fashionable Dublin 4 accent (popularly known as "DART speak" or, later, "Dortspeak") is a subset of New Dublin, originating from more affluent and middle-class inhabitants of southside Dublin, who rejected traditional notions of Irishness, regarding themselves as more trendy and sophisticated Dubliners; however, the accent became quickly noticed and ridiculed, falling out of fashion by the 1990s.98
  • West and South-West Irish English here refers to rural varieties of Ireland's West and South-West Regions.
  • Supraregional Irish English (or Supraregional Southern Irish English) here refers to a variety originating outside of Northern Ireland that crosses regional boundaries throughout the Republic of Ireland.

Vowels and consonants

The following charts list the vowels typical of Irish English dialects as well as the several distinctive consonants of Irish English.9394 Phonological characteristics of overall Hiberno-English as well as of the five aforementioned sub-divisions of Hiberno-English (Northern Ireland; Local Dublin; Non-Local Dublin; West & South-West Ireland; and Supraregional Ireland) are all listed in the charts below:

Other phonological characteristics

In Irish English, consonant clusters ending in /j/ are distinctive: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/ (as in cute), /hj/ (as in huge), and /mj/ (as in mute).

The naming of the letter H as "haitch" is standard, while the letter R is called "or", the letter A is often pronounced "ah", and the letter Z is often referred to as "e-zed" in working-class Dublin and Belfast accents or parodies of same. Some words gain a syllable in Irish speech, like film, which becomes "fillum".

See also

Notes

  1. ^ According to the 1841 census, Ireland had 8,175,124 inhabitants, of whom four million spoke Gaelic.4

References

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  2. ^ "Hiberno-English Archive". DRAPIer. IE: DHO. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Culture and Religion in Tudor Ireland 1494–1558, University College Cork 
  4. ^ Ranelagh, John O'Beirne (1994), A Short History of Ireland, Cambridge, p. 118 
  5. ^ Dolan, Terence Patrick (2004). A dictionary of Hiberno-English: the Irish use of English. Dublin, IE: Gill & Macmillan. p. xix. ISBN 978-0-7171-3535-6. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Easy Irish". IE: Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
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  9. ^ "Nuacht a hAon". IE: Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
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  23. ^ Collins Dictionary online
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  27. ^ "Mon, Jun 09, 1997 – Challenge led to a hooker revival". The Irish Times. 6 June 1997. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
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  33. ^ "A 'win-win situation' as Travellers design their own homes". The Irish Times. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
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  37. ^ Irish Herald newspaper 27.3.2009
  38. ^ Collins English dictionary online
  39. ^ Old English deofol
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  41. ^ Cf.Scots deil tak....
  42. ^ "A vine romance in Rioja country". The Irish Times. 25 September 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  43. ^ Cf. Scots deil a bit. Also in A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by Eric Partridge.
  44. ^ "What is an Eejit? | Notebook". Mad Eejits. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  45. ^ Collins Dictionary online
  46. ^ Irish Times 18.5.2009
  47. ^ Collins Dictionary online
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  49. ^ Oxford Dictionary online
  50. ^ Irish Examiner 30.4.2013
  51. ^ Oxford English Dictionary online
  52. ^ "Reports from Broombridge……". Come here to me!. 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  53. ^ Oxford English Dictionary online
  54. ^ Oxford dictionary online
  55. ^ "Brennans Family Pan – Brennans Sliced Pan | Brennans Bread". Brennansbread.ie. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  56. ^ Irish times 23.6.2012
  57. ^ Collins Dictionary online def. 15
  58. ^ Irish Independent 30.1.2013
  59. ^ oxford Dictionary online
  60. ^ "Wed, Jan 16, 2002 – Alone Again, naturally Unfringed Festival 2002". The Irish Times. 1 January 2002. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  61. ^ The Irish huist meaning "be quiet", is an unlikely source since the word is known throughout England and Scotland where it derives from early Middle English whist (cf. Middle English hust and Scots wheesht)
  62. ^ "Sat, Mar 07, 2009 – RTÉ set to clash with Ryan over his salary". The Irish Times. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  63. ^ "Labour's Burton says Ireland is 'banjaxed' – RTÉ News". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  64. ^ Oxford Dictionary online
  65. ^ SND: Bowsie
  66. ^ Terence Patrick Dolan (2004). A dictionary of Hiberno-English: the Irish use of English. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7171-3535-6. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  67. ^ Cf. Scots blab/bleb.
  68. ^ "Sat, Jan 04, 2003 – Heroic stoic of the island". The Irish Times. 1 January 2003. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  69. ^ Terence Brown, The Literature of Ireland: Culture and Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p.261; James Fenton, "Against Fakery: Kingsley Amis" in The Movement Reconsidered: Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and their Contemporaries, (Oxford: OUP, 2009), p.107
  70. ^ "The Chisellers (9780452281226): Brendan O'Carroll: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
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  73. ^ "Top tables". The Irish Times. 5 June 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  74. ^ "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  75. ^ "Ceann Comhairle refuses to apologise for calling TDs 'gurriers'". Irish Independent, 8 November 2012
  76. ^ Oxford English Dictionary online
  77. ^ SND Gurry
  78. ^ "Educating Rory lays foundations for a Hollywood blockbuster". The Irish Times. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  79. ^ ||oxford Dictionary online
  80. ^ "Bertie's role in the kitchen press". The Irish Times. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  81. ^ www.urbandictionary.om
  82. ^ SND: Rake
  83. ^ "Sole searching". The Irish Times. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  84. ^ Dolan, Terence Patrick (2004). A Dictionary of Hiberno-English. Dublin, Ireland: Gill & Macmillan. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-7171-4039-8. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  85. ^ SND: Shore
  86. ^ Dolan, Terence Patrick (2004). A Dictionary of Hiberno-English. Dublin, Ireland: Gill & Macmillan. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-7171-4039-8. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  87. ^ O'Brien, Kate (1953). Needlework through history: an encyclopedia. Harper. p. 37. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
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  89. ^ "Present Tense » Your handy guide to Irish cultural etiquette". The Irish Times. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  90. ^ A semantic and pragmatic examination ... – Google Books. Books.google.com. 1986. ISBN 978-3-87808-372-6. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  91. ^ Dialects across borders: selected ... – Google Books. Books.google.com. 2005. ISBN 978-90-272-4787-2. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  92. ^ Adger (2004)
  93. ^ a b de Gruyter 2004, pp. 90–93
  94. ^ a b Hickey, Raymond. A Sound Atlas of Irish English, Volume 1. Walter de Gruyter: 2004, pp. 57-60.
  95. ^ Burchfield, Robert (1995). The Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-521-26478-5. 
  96. ^ Hickey, Raymond (2007). Irish English: History and Present-Day Forms. Cambridge University Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-521-85299-9. 
  97. ^ Filppula, Markku (1999). The Grammar of Irish English: Language in Hibernian Style. Routledge. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-415-14524-4. 
  98. ^ a b c Hickey, Raymond. Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing: 2005, pp. 46-48
  99. ^ a b (de Gruyter 2004, p. 88)
  100. ^ (de Gruyter 2004, p. 84)
  101. ^ a b Hickey (1984:234)
  102. ^ Hickey (2007:?)
  103. ^ a b (de Gruyter 2004, p. 93)

Bibliography

External links


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