Varieties of English: an examination of an Irish English speaker
Keywords:Irish English, Phonology, Linguistic environment
The aim of this paper is to compare a southern Irish English speaker who lives in New Zealand with what literature in the field portrays as typical speech for the Irish variety of English. This paper does not discuss the historical or contemporary reasons for why Irish English is as it is today. This paper has limited its analysis to the reasons why the native Irish speaker of English differs from other norms, and comments only on differences. The southern Irish English variety has unique phonological, morphological, lexical, and syntactical features, as well as a distinguishing intonation and stress pattern. Only phonological differences are examined here. Four main aspects of Irish English are investigated; the /w/ ~ /hw/ contrast; the contrast of /t/ with /θ/; the STRUT /ʌ / and FOOT /ʊ/ vowels (the GOOSE vowel will only be looked at in the context of a variable with STRUT and FOOT; and the PRICE / ai / and CHOICE / Ɔɪ / diphthongs. The analysis of these sounds shows evidence that there are competing influences on an individual’s conscious or subconscious phonological choices; pride in one’s language and heritage might compete with one’s aspiring social status and professional ambitions. Together these could be further influenced by the linguistic environments one has been in or in which one currently finds oneself. These competing forces lead to some expected but also some unexpected departures from other norms.