Irish English

Irish English

Irish English

Irish English


This volume provides an accessible overview of the English spoken in the Northern dialect regions of Ireland. The text begins with a basic overview of the location of the historical nine-county province of Ulster and the degree of contact its divergent peoples have had with the Republic of Ireland, as well as other areas of the British Isles and, more widely, within continental Europe and further abroad.

The volume also takes a complete inventory of the phonetic and phonological features of Northern varieties of Irish-English and its morphological and syntactic characteristics; the distinctive lexis of Northern Irish English; language contact and shift; and language changes in progress. Following a standard series structure, this book includes a survey of previous work, an annotated bibliography, and a selection of sample texts.


This volume highlights aspects of language and dialect in Northern Ireland that are in need of further research, especially those that might make suitable projects for student dissertations. It is also intended to be a reference tool for a general readership.

The book evolved from my enduring interest in this topic which started as a childhood game with my sister in which we mimicked different Irish English varieties for the amusement of our parents. Later, I became aware that they used expressions like for to instead of to that our generation did not – though, of course, at the time I had no idea why this might be (see §3.7.4) nor why my uncle from the Republic of Ireland was perceived to have a ‘softer brogue’ than they did (see §1.3). This curiosity was also fuelled by my exposure to other local language attitudes, starting with my mother’s enrolling us in elocution lessons where we worked hard to eradicate the distinctive Northern Irish [Əʉ, aʉ, αʉ] diphthong in MOUTH words (see § There was also my grandfather’s conviction that my cousins who went to a state school had ‘Protestant accents’ which his Catholic-educated grandchildren did not (see §1.4.3).

This book is designed to provide an accessible overview of research addressing questions like these relating to the distinctive phonological (Chapter 2), morphosyntactic (Chapter 3) and lexical/discourse features (Chapter 4) used in Northern Ireland. Since these are influenced by historical, socio-political and spatial factors, the book also includes discussion of the physical geography of the region and its social dynamics (Chapter 1), as well as its history and recent changes in progress with respect to the linguistic status of varieties spoken there (Chapter 5). The book concludes with an annotated bibliography of previous research (Chapter 6) and data samples collected during fieldwork (Chapter 7).

Newcastle University accommodated the fieldwork, research and writing-up phase of the volume by providing a sabbatical, the second . . .

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