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Irish English (hereafter abbreviated as IE) has been the subject of many previous studies, dealing primarily with history, grammar, pronunciation and lexicon. Many works have also been published about the English language used in works of famous Anglo-Irish authors such as Swift, Synge or Joyce. However, little research exists on the English language used in works by contemporary Irish authors. The purpose of this paper is to give an idea of what modern written IE is like.
In this paper four plays by contemporary Irish authors (all born between 1950 and 1960) will be analysed with regards to pronunciation, grammar, lexicon and manners of speech. These plays are:
- ¿The Factory Girls¿ by Frank McGuinness.
- ¿After Easter¿ by Anne Devlin.
- ¿Brownbread¿ by Roddy Doyle.
- ¿At The Black Pig¿s Dyke¿ by Vincent Woods.
As will be discussed later on, IE is not a common dialect, but regionally different, especially between the northern and the southern part of the island.
In order to point out some dialect variation, the plays were selected according to their settings, which were County Donegal, Belfast, Dublin and County Leitrim.
This paper will be divided into two parts. In the first part, I would like to give a theoretical overview of the various aspects of IE, such as grammar, pronunciation, lexicon and manners of speech, and how they differ from Standard English (henceforth abbreviated as SE).
I will commence by providing a historical overview on how and when the English language came to Ireland, which is essential for understanding the further development of the different dialects and accents. This introductory overview is followed by IE pronunciation and grammar in comparison to RP and SE respectively. Subsequently, the lexicon of IE and certain manners of speech, such as exaggeration, will be considered.
The second part will comprise the analyses of the four plays, which were carried out on the basis of those features of IE outlined in the theoretical part. The analyses will provide a short summary of the respective play, and present relevant examples from the plays.
Evidently, there are more typically Irish features in the text corpus, however these are not investigated here. The second part will conclude with a comparison of the findings of the four plays.
Inhaltsverzeichnis:Table of Contents:
2.The advance of the English language in Ireland across the centuries5
3.Linguistic characteristics of Irish English17
5.Manners of speech43
1.The Factory Girls45
4.At The Black Pig¿s Dyke84
6.Works consulted101 Textprobe:Text Sample:
Chapter IV, Lexicon: With the influence of Irish as well as old English and Scots dialects it seems only natural that a certain number of distinctive vocabulary should have come to pass. The great number of these words and phrases can be divided into two categories: words of Irish origin, and words of English (including Scots) origin.1 These two categories can then be further subdivided.
Words of Irish origin are mostly loanwords of which the meaning is carried over into Irish English. Quite often, the spelling of these Irish words has been anglicised, as in smithereens from smidiríní, or macushla from mo chuisle . In the Republic of Ireland, Irish words are generally used for political institutions, such as Taoiseach (the Prime Minister), Dáil (the parliament), or political parties, such as Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Sinn Féin.
Words of English origin have quite often become either obsolete in SE, or they are attributed a different meaning in IE than in SE (Bliss English 140). An example of such a different meaning is the Irish English use of the word ditch which in SE means ¿a narrow channel dug to hold or carry water¿ (COED), while in IE it indicates quite the opposite, viz. a ¿fence, raised earthen wall¿ (HEA). However, categorizing the Irish English lexicon in this fashion does not always help, as in many cases the origins are blurred or mixed. As an example, the word crack is deriving from Irish craic which in itself has been a loanword from Early Modern English (HEA). Another example of mixed etymology is IE bold (of children). While in SE bold generally means courageous, it means naughty in IE. This usage has been influenced by the Irish word dána, which can have both meanings: courageous and forward (HEA).
Another subsection in the IE lexicon is slang, in which rhyming slang is especially prominent. Although rhyming slang is chiefly associated with the Cockney accent of London, it is also very much alive in Ireland, and especially in Dublin. Three nice examples of Dublin rhyming slang are the nicknames Dubliners have given to some of their most famous statues. The Anna Livia fountain in the middle of O'Connell Street, for example, is called The Floozie in the Jacuzzi. The Molly Malone statue just off Grafton Street is called The Tart with the Cart, and the shopping ladies on the north side of the Liffey, opposite Halfpenny Bridge, are called The Hags with the Bags. And there are many more of this type. Typical rhyming slang is also house of wax for jacks (the toilet), and Barry White for shite.
In the analyses of part II, it will be tried to roughly categorize the words found in the texts as either English or Irish in origin: they will be presented providing also their meaning and pronunciation.
Salutations, blessings, and ejaculations: It is understood that Irish people are very religious - at least their language bears remnants of this fact. This can be observed in many of their salutations and blessings in everyday life.
The Irish standard salutation, corresponding somewhat to Good Day, is Dia dhuit. When wishing goodbye to someone, an Irish person will almost certainly add God bless, coming from Irish Go m-beannuighe Dia dhuit, and literally meaning may God bless you. An Irish person who wishes to thank God will often say thanks be to God. Equally you may also hear glory be to God, which, according to Joyce, is also an exclamation of fear, as well as for astonishment.
An Irish person seeking God's help may say God help me or God help us. This is a translation from the Irish Dia linn and is also uttered in Irish when somebody sneezes (HEA). If you wish well for somebody else, you may say God help him/her/them. Irish people also frequently add please God to statements, in the sense that they hope it turns out the way they would like it to. However, when the name of a dead person is mentioned, people utter the little prayers ¿God rest his soul¿ or ¿the Lord have mercy on him¿. In situations of shock or astonishment, Irish people will often utter ejaculations such as Jesus, Mary and Joseph! or Sweet Mary mother of God!
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