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Irish English

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Ash Navrady

on 28 January 2016

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Transcript of Irish English

Prescriptivism in Irish English

Ash Navrady
- Irish English: Attitudes and Prescriptivism
- What features and variables I will be researching
- Methodology: Survey and SPICE-Ireland
- Results and Analysis
- References
- Discussion
Why Irish English?
Historical motivation
Ireland was the first overseas country in which English was transported and has been spoken to some degree in Ireland since the 14th Century. Therefore, the English langauge in Ireland predates the notion of 'standard' English and usage guides.
Ireland's relationship with Standard English
Due to the colonial relationship between Ireland and England/GB, attitudes towards England has often been particuarly negative. I want to see if this is reflected in attitudes and usage in Irish English. Historically, standard pronunication of English has been shunned by Irish, does this occur in grammar too? Flaherty (1995) argues "“Queens English” is not, anyways, admired in Ireland, partly for “imperial” reasons and also for its perceived “snob” values." (piii).
Prescriptivism in IrE
I wish to research features of IrE that have gained scholarly attention in the domain of prescriptivism. It is the misuse or shunning of StE? Or are features specific to IrE the features that cause controversy? Flaherty's (1995)
English Language: Irish Style
bemoans how the state of IrE is declining and corrupting every area of spoken English in Ireland.
Which features will I be researching?

I continue?
- I'm going to Belfast
for to
buy a diswasher.
does be
worrying a lot about her final exam.
- I can't wait
to literally leave
this job!
-Yeah, I
that on TV last night
- No thanks, I
my shopping yesterday,
- Are
going on the train to Dublin?
-Are any of
going on holiday this year?
The variables I will be taking into consideration...
- Age
- Gender
- Province
- Discourse environment
So, how will I be researching these features of Irish English?
Attitudes Survey
Using 'Qualtrics', I will be distributing an online survey via various social media outlets to test attitudes towards these features.
: I want to see if the features stigmatised in literature correspond to the attitudes of everyday speakers of IrE. Secondly, I will also compare it to Hickey's (2007) findings in
A Survey of Irish English
wherein he compared the attitudes of speaker's from different areas of Ireland regarding salient features of IrE
Using the corpus SPICE-Ireland, which is the spoken part of ICE-IRELAND, I will be looking at whether these features occur in the data and how frequently (via Wordsmith). SPICE enables us to view speaker's details such as age, gender and where they are from. I can also view which conversational environments (text category) these features were used in. I can then combine attitudes from the survey with instances in the corpus to draw conclusion concerning these features. Connacht's view of 'youse' with regards to speakers from Munster for example.
Research Questions
1. Does the attitudes towards stigmatised features in literature reflect the attitudes to speakers of IrE?
2. In SPICE, are the features commonplace in spoken discourse? Who uses these features and in what environments?
3. Can I establish a link from the responses in the attitude survey and findings in SPICE?

Results of Shall
The survey respondents were given three examples of shall or will being used interchangeably and were asked to select the form they would use and feel were most acceptable. One result included:
- Shall we buy some eggs?

- Will we buy some eggs?
Respondents were given an optional text box to respond to these forms. Out of 72 responses, 30% mentioned that they would
never use
Reasons included that it 'sounded posh' and 'alien'
Shall in SPICE
Instances of
: 1,103
Instances of
: 22
SPICE confirms that
is very rare in spoken IrE. Out of 22 examples, only 2 were used incorrectly. The other 20 were used in Legal Cross-Examinations, where discourse follows a more traditional and scripted route
Acceptance ratings
Using the same format as Hickey (2007), I asked respondent to rate out of 100, how acceptable these sentences were:

Survey Results
Did Gender have an effect?
No, there was little variation in any feature with acceptance features, or any other question in the survey.
Did Age have an effect?
Yes, I grouped the respondents into Under 25 years and Over 25 (157 : 96). Concerning
, the younger group had a 11% higher acceptance rate (68% : 57%). Under 25's also had a 13% higher acceptance figure for '
' (76% : 63%). The only feature which scored higher in the older group was
for to
which has a 16% higher rating (27% : 43%)
Did location have an effect?
The biggest variation in the attitudes survey came from the response of people from different Provinces:
Does be
Ulster 32% vs Connacht 66%
Connacht 91%, Munster 89% vs Ulster 78% and Leinster 79%
Munster 64% vs Ulster 76% + Leinster 70%. People from Connacht and Munster often commented that 'youse' reminded them of 'Dublin speech'.
SPICE-Ireland Results

Low Frequency
does be
for to,
there were only 1 and 4 instances of this forms in SPICE respectively. This indicates that they be an archaic feature of IrE and may be dying out. Many respondents of my survey indicated they had never heard
for to
and believed it to be a fabricated form. In addition, the detail that in the survey
does be'
s acceptance level lowered dramatically with the younger demograhpic indicates that it too may be lost in use.
Moderate Frequency
High Frequency
: 44 - 100% ROI counties - 47% Connacht -32% of speakers (10% Munster) - 91% Female users, - 95 % Under 25s. - 100% Face-to-Face Conversations
: 67 - Eastern counties - 43% Ulster & 15% Leinster - Female 67% - Face-to-Face predominant but also Telephone Conv, Broadcast Disc & Business Transactions

Overall there were 162 instances of the features I researched.
- 11 : 295. - Ulster - Over 25s
33 : 166. - Under 25s. Face-to-Face, Classroom Disc, Broadcast Interviews & Unscripted Speeches

- In the survey there wasn't a great deal of difference between the attitudes of gender and only a slight different regarding age ranges. However, in SPICE the recorded usage did display a difference in usage.
- The biggest variation was between provinces, and the attitudes in the survey were reflected in SPICE findings.
- The items which were the most negatively evaluated featured least in SPICE.
- Most of these features remain in Face-to-Face conversations, but they are indications that it is beginning to creep into more formal environments.
- Shall will never be part of IrE


- Flaherty, P. (1995). The English Language - Irish Style. Galway: Jaycee Printers
- Hickey, Raymond. (2007). Irish English - History and present-day forms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Kirk, J. et al. (2011). The SPICE-Ireland Corpus (Version 1.2.2). Belfast: Qub.

Discussion and Comments
we go and look through the <,> square window </dir>
Another section of the survey asked the respondents to rank the 3 most unacceptable forms and briefly explain their reasons, here are some of the comments I received
"On the first one saying "for to" doesnt make sense. You would need to be saying "for a dishwasher" or "to buy a dishwasher" it was like a strange mixture of both."

"Horrible sounding misuse of verbs. Guttural English which is all too acceptable now."

"i done, youse and i seen would be from the underclass or criminal class dublinese, which would be unappealing."
"Who the fuck in Ireland says shall???"
<,> I haven't paid
for to
get over to London yet but then the rest of it was all insurance </rep>
<rep> I
that before </rep>
<rep> I came up and I
this haze of smoke like@ </rep>
<dir> Did
1gO anywhere 8Else% </dir>
<dir> What are
whispering about over there </dir>
Full transcript