The Celtic Englishes
Celtic Englishes II -
Abstracts of Papers
Superstratum and Substratum in Manx Gaelic
On 27 December 1997 Ned Maddrell, the last reputed native speaker of Manx Gaelic, died and was buried shortly after in Rushen Parish churchyard. His death marks the end of some 1500 years of Gaelic speech in Man. However, more than 100 years before his death the process of language death had begun its campaign of attrition against the fabric of Manx Gaelic, and particularly wreaked havoc in the phonology (in the form of wild allophonic variation) and in the morphosyntax and syntax, lexicon and phraseology, where the influences of English idiom and expression began to take hold. However, the process was not one-way. English began to establish itself in Man ca. 1800 with the arrival of lower middle class small business operators, mainly (but not exclusively) from Lancashire. In the process of English Manx-Manx English contact the English in Man, particularly (but not exclusively) among those who spoke Manx traditionally, began to take on a Gaelic hue, with idiom and calques as well as a substantial number of lexemes transferred from the Abandoned Language (Manx) into the Target Language (English), so much so that Manx English ceased to be comprehensible to a speaker of Standard English. This paper seeks to look at the contact of both languages on each other and to see whether any pattern is discernible.
The Compilation of a Dictionary of Hiberno-English
In this paper I propose to discuss the way that I set about compiling a dictionary of
Hiberno-English for the publisher Gill and Macmillan.
Age-Group Differentiation in the Spoken Language of Rural East Galway
Received scholarly opinion has it that old people speak Hiberno-English more
'genuinely' or 'originally' than younger people (de-creolisation hypothesis). This view
can be both read in the handbooks and heard in personal interviews in Ireland. Is this a
preconceived idea or is it true? I would like to investigate this problem by means of a
case study and present my findings for discussion.
The Unbearable Lightness of the 'Layer Cake Model'
I will argue in this paper that the kind of 'stratum approach' implicit in the notion
of the 'Layer Cake Model' does not do justice to the ontology of grammar of contact
vernaculars. Based on the untenable supposition that elements drawn from either the
substratum or superstratum form neat layers piled on top of each other, this model
completely overlooks the intricate patterns of variation which exist in contact
vernaculars both at the inter- and intraindividual levels.
Irish in Australia - Aspects of Linguistic Accomodation
This paper tries to establish theoretical aspects of linguistic accomodation processes
through looking at language data culled from 19th century Irish-Australian letters.
Gary D. German
Britons, Anglo-Saxons and Scholars: 19th Century Attitudes Towards
the Survival of Britons in Anglo-Saxon England
The Romantic period has often been characterised by the search for primeval origins.
Indeed, the late 18th and early 19th century witnessed major strides forward in the field
of linguistics, the discovery of the bond between the Indo-European family of languages
being perhaps the most far-reaching in its implications. It goes without saying that the
contribution made by German philologists was of critical importance. The latter part of
the century saw history established as a major academic discipline in European
universities. The fascination by scholars in the ethnic and linguistic origins of the
European peoples was one of the consequences. In its most extreme form, this fascination
eventually led to the development of an ideology based on the concept of racial and
Models for Describing Aspect in Irish English
Description of aspectual types in Irish English (northern and southern) have not been
wanting with authors like Harris and Kallen devoting much attention to the matter. A major
difficulty in the linguistic treatment of aspect is determining how many types exist in
Irish English. But this question can only be answered by being explicit about what
descriptive model one uses for dealing with the issue.
A Seventeenth-Century Variety of Irish English
The study of Irish English in the crucial 16th and 17th centuries is hampered by the
paucity of available data. Bliss's 1979 volume 'Spoken English in Ireland: 1600-1740' has
been heavily criticised, both for the choice of texts and for the methodology of his
analysis. Pending the publication of other sources, however, this textual material
The Origins of the Northern Subject Rule - A Case of Early Contact?
The northern subject rule is a term sometimes applied to the characteristic marking of the verb in the present tense in northern and Scots vernacular varieties of English. In these varieties the presence of the inflectional marker -s depends on the nature and position of the subject, as in the following examples (from Ihalainen 1994: 221):
(1) They peel them and boils them.
(2) Birds sings.
The northern subject rules states essentially that plural present tense verbs take the
-s ending unless they are adjacent to a personal pronoun subject (as in They
peel them); if the subject is a full noun phrase (Birds sings),
or a personal pronoun not adjacent to the verb (They peel them and boils
them), -s ending is not used.
Liam Mac Mathúna
Toponyms Across Languages: The Role of Toponymy in Ireland's Language Shifts
This paper will examine the role of toponymy within Ireland's opposing language shifts,
Irish > English (1500 - present) and English > Irish (1893 - present), seeking to
identify any patterns which would establish whether place-names and toponymic elements are
the harbingers or the pawns of change.
The Celtic Element in American English
Millions of Americans had ancestors who spoke either a Celtic language (Welsh, Irish,
Gaelic, or Scottish Gaelic) or a variety of English or Scots influenced by a Celtic
language. Settlers from Ireland, for instance, formed the third largest emigrant group
after the English and the Germans, and the surnames they contributed to the American
population are innumerable. However, historical accounts of American English make
virtually no mention of linguistic influence from these emigrant streams. The few items of
Welsh, Irish, and Scottish background in the first two volumes of the 'Dictionary of
American Regional English' have never had more than marginal currency, differing little
from those cited as Celtic contributions to British English, whose small number is
supposedly attributable to the cultural dominance of the English. It can be shown,
however, that the linguistic impact on American English made by emigrants from the Celtic
parts of the British Isles, especially those who came from Ulster in the eighteenth
century, were both numerous and profound and that they have been routinely overlooked by
researchers because they lie not in the lexicon but in the grammar. These are particularly
noteworthy in the speech of the Appalachian mountain region.
On Gower English
I would like to consider the general matter of Welsh English by discussing the curious
case of Gower English. Tradition and history tell us that the Gower Peninsula, in South
Wales, has had an English-speaking population since the time of Norman rule in Britain.
The character and origin of this English have been the subjects of discussion and
controversy since at least the end of the 17th century. Two possible sources have received
particular attention: the settlement of Flemings in the Peninsula in the Middle Ages (for
which there seems to be no substantive evidence), the settlement of immigrants from the
south-west of England from the Middle Ages onwards (for which there is some evidence).
Since the end of the 17th century scholars have been predicting the imminent demise of
Gower English; research for my 1994 book Gowerland and its language (Peter Lang)
led me to believe that it has not been a living dialect for most of the 20th century.
Problems of Data Bases for Languages in Contact
So-called periphrastic tenses occur in the Celtic languages and in English; and it has
remained one of the vexed question with regard to the possible Celticity of English, or
otherwise, whether these constructions are the result of a languages-in-contact situation,
and how this situation could be envisaged. Any attempt to solve this question, or even to
approach a solution, requires the detailed consideration of a number of theoretical
linguistic issues which are all connected with the data bases researchers use to explore
languages in contact. To look at such problems from the specific perspective of the
periphrastic tenses in the medieval Celtic languages is therefore relevant not only with
regard to this special problem - however important it may be for the notion of Celtic
Englishes - but also with regard to all data-based explorations of languages in contact.
Operationalising the Concept of Diglossia
The paper deals with the concept of diglossia which is central to the research of
languages in contact and has been used for the description of those specific contact
situations which led to the development of the "Celtic Englishes". The paper
will discuss the possibilities of operationalising this concept, taking into consideration
the history of the concept, so as to better account for the many different types of
situations of linguistic contact and their dynamics. The point at issue is that the
discussion of diglossia until the 1980s was characterised by a traditional notion of
discrete categorisation - the hallmarks of which are feature orientation and binarism. The
proposal of a continuum of descriptive parameters, as advanced in Romance Studies in the
beginning of the 1990s (Lüdi 1991), offers a new orientation which, among others,
corresponds to changes of paradigm in other areas of linguistics.
From Mimicry to Hybridity - Can the Study of the Celtic Englishes
Benefit from Post-Colonial Theory?
My paper will provide a short introduction to post-colonial theory, focussing on the aspects relevant for actual language use. The main point of interest will be the notion of hybridity, as introduced by Homi K. Bhaba. Bhaba and his followers interpret hybridity as a positive concept, similar to the use of the term in biology, where it denotes a stronger, better adapted specimen derived from the mixture of two different strains. The post-colonial writer (or intellectual) is seen as a wanderer between two cultures, consciously or unconsciously selecting element from both to transcend both in his work. In linguistics, this approach can be linked to the concept of the nativisation of English (cf. e.g. Braj Kachru, E. K. Brathwaite), the 'Acts of Identity'-model (Robert LePage, Andrée Tabouret-Keller) and the whole complex of language attitudes, of covert and overt prestige (cf. e.g. John Rickford/Elisabeth Traugott). I will explore these possible links and address the question, if the meaningful application of the concept of hybridity is restricted to 'clear-cut' cases (e.g. the Caribbean) or if it can also contribute to the study of the Celtic Englishes.
Language Contact, Language Awareness, and the History of Hiberno-English
On the basis of data taken from the oldest available bilingual speakers of contemporary Irish and English, I would like to offer partial answers to the following questions:
(1) which types of adaptation operate when speakers use elements from L2 in L1, and, accordingly, which degrees of integration can be discerned in borrowed linguistic material;
(2) with which types of linguistic awareness - regarding pertinence or origin of linguistic elements - may such degrees of integration correlate;
(3) in which ways are bilinguals' utterances determined by their language attitudes?
Finally, I shall try to compare conditions of bilingualsim is 20th century Ireland with earlier phases of this same language contact. This might help to clarify to what extent it is justified to reconstruct, at least partially, the origin of Hiberno-English on the basis of later empirical insight.
The Pragmatics of Predicate Fronting in Welsh English
In common with the other Celtic languages, Welsh is considered to belong - on the syntactic level - to the category VSO, despite the fact that the various spoken dialects diverge somewhat from this basic ordering. In this paper, I will argue in favour of considering Welsh, on the pragmatic/cognitive level, as basically rheme-theme, indefinite-definite orientated. This point of view runs counter to the Prague School tradition, but is largely in line with work carried out on Amerindian languages since the late 70's by researchers based at - for example - Oregon and Santa Barbara. Hopefully, it will help to shed some light on widely-attested phenomena involving predicate-fronting in Welsh English. I will attempt to examine to what extent the various rheme-theme structures in discourse data are neutral, pragmatically unmarked - as they very often are in Welsh; and what role is played by modality. Finally, I will suggest that - paradoxically - monolingual English speakers tend to display more interference of this kind in their spoken English than do bilinguals.