On Northern Irish English: A Phonological and Morphosyntactic Description
Beristain Murillo, Ander
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The present paper reviews the phonological and morphosyntactic aspects of the Northern Irish English (NIrE) variety. NIrE is the dialect of English spoken within the region of Northern Ireland, which officially belongs to the United Kingdom. One of the main peculiarities of NIrE is the substrate influence it has undergone from the Irish language. However, in contrast to Southern Irish English (SIrE), what is distinctive in NIrE is the phonological substrate influence it received from Scots, which is a Celtic language that originated in Scotland, and came into contact with NIrE in the seventeenth century due to Scottish settlements in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, other factors such as the political situation in the twentieth century in Northern Ireland contributed to the peculiar development that NIrE underwent as opposed to SIrE in the Republic of Ireland. Due to the Enactment Act passed in 1920, which stated officially that Northern Ireland belonged to the United Kingdom, the northeastern part of the Emerald Island developed in isolation from other English-speaking areas within the Republic of Ireland such as Dublin. This isolation period implied a distinct linguistic tradition that was delimited to Northern Ireland, where Scots, Irish, seventeenth-century English, and Irish English co-existed. The combination of all these languages and varieties surfaced in the distinctive NIrE dialect, which has been usually tagged by linguists as a ‘hybrid’. This paper will present not only the main historical events that shaped the English spoken in Ireland, but it will also provide a linguistic description of NIrE. Thus, the main phonological and morphosyntactic characteristics of such dialect will be exhibited. As for phonology, NIrE features will be compared to the respective features in ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP). Regarding morphosyntax, NIrE characteristics will be contrasted with those of Standard British English (StBE). The characteristics are provided first, and in some of the cases the possible substrate influence of Irish or Scots is given on the basis of previous studies (Corrigan, 2010; Filppula, 1999; Hickey, 2010).