chapter  4
20 Pages

The Englishes of Ireland: Emergence and transportation

ByRaymond Hickey

Any treatment of the English language in Ireland must start from the recognition of a wide range of varieties throughout the country. There are varieties on the east coast which go back to the late twelfth century. In the north of Ireland, there was a significant Scots input in the seventeenth century. In the south west and west of the country, there are largely rural varieties which still show the effect of structural transfer from Irish during the period of the main language shift between the seventeenth and nineteenth century. The different forms of English in Ireland can be considered from the point of view of the structural characteristics which they share and through which they form a linguistic area across the island of Ireland (Hickey 1999a, 2004a). They can also be considered in terms of their distinguishing features which derive from their different historical roots and the particular demographic circumstances under which they took root in Ireland. The latter view is what justifies the term ‘Englishes’ in the title of this chapter. And, in the context of the present volume, the plural form of English has additional justification. This book is about the different forms of English which are found throughout the world and so the primary standpoint is one of diversity. There is a further reason for stressing differences among the varieties of English in Ireland: these diverse varieties were transported during the colonial period between the early seventeenth and the late nineteenth centuries (Hickey 2004d) and so provided specific input to emerging English at a number of overseas locations as far apart as Newfoundland (Hickey 2002) and Australia (Hickey 2007: 414-17).