Irish English - a brief introduction


A description of English spoken in Ireland is almost as complicated as a historical and political description of the Irish people. Four main varieties can be found:

  1. A more-or-less Standard form of English, close to that of south east England

  2. common in the Dublin establishment, the hierarchy of both Protestant and Catholic Churches, schools and universities and the media; a distinction can be made between a pure Received Pronunciation, a Received Irish Pronunciation, the latter being used officially by Irish television and radio, and a Received Ulster Pronunciation;
  3. Anglo-Irish

  4. the variety spoken by Protestants in Eire; it has developed little from the English brought across by settlers in the 17th century; this variety is now of very small significance numerically;
  5. Ulster-Scots

  6. the variety used by Protestants in northern Ireland though this linguistic division does not correspond precisely with the political division; it has derived from the language used by the Scottish settlers of Ulster and has many features similar to Scottish English (for example the marked 'r' sound);
  7. Hiberno-English

  8. used by Catholics throughout Ireland, therefore by around 70% of the population of Ireland; it shows many influences of Irish Gaelic (Erse) and can be divided into two sub-varieties that of the north (influenced by Ulster-Scots) and that of the south.

Main Features of Hiberno-English



© Nigel J. Ross, 2003




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