A Short Guide To Irish-English Accents

Irish English (or Hiberno-English, from Latin ‘Hibernia’ meaning Ireland) is a term that refers to the totality of dialects spoken and written in Ireland. Historically, English was firstly used in Ireland along with the Norman conquest in the 12th century in the geographic area corresponding to modern day Dublin, at the time known as ‘the Pale’, but gradually spread during next two centuries throughout the country.

Nonetheless, by the Tudor period (between the 15th and 17th century), the Irish language had regained its status of dominant language in all of Ireland, including in the region known as ‘the Pale’, only to to see a revival of English commencing from the 16th century along with the English conquest of Ireland.

Thus, by the mid 19th century English had already become the language of the majority in Ireland, given the fact that according to the 1841 Irish census Ireland had a population of 8,175,124 inhabitants, of whom 4 million spoke Gaelic at native level.

Nowadays, English has co-official status alongside Irish in the Republic of Ireland and is the language of the majority of citizens, even of those whose first language is Irish. Modern Hiberno-English has many Irish influences and managed to retain a sizeable amount of archaic English elements, yet these are used only in the spoken language rather than in the written one.

From this point of view, there are only several subtle differences in regards to vocabulary between Hiberno-English and Standard British English. Moreover, Hiberno-English relies heavily on British English spelling and British pronunciation (rather than American English spelling and American pronunciation).

Nevertheless, many Irish dialects have their own unique sound systems. There are five major dialects of Hiberno-English as defined by phonologists: Ulster English, West/South-West Irish English (including Cork English), local Dublin English, non-local Dublin English and supraregional Hiberno-English.

Below you can watch a short video on the accents of English in Ireland:

Documentation sources and external links:


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