The Celtic Englishes

The Celtic Englishes IV

Abstracts of Papers

(in order of presentation)


David White
(Austin TX)

The Gradience of Celticity in Englishes

The conference topic is what defines the Celtic Englishes. This may be seen as involving two questions. The first is how the Celtic Englishes got their distinctive features. Some observers have denied Celtic substratal influence in the Celtic Englishes, regarding many features which might be taken as from Celtic as being instead from earlier forms of "Western" English. (There is in fact no such dialect as "Western" English.) This hypothesis may be called "the superstratalist approach", though properly speaking superstratal influence from "Western" English should be found in Celtic. Superstratalists would evidently have us think that the presumed methodological horror of "substrato-mania" can be avoided by positing that the Celtic Englishes are just more western and more conservative varieties of "Western" English. However, such an approach simply assumes that the various resemblances between "Western" English and Celtic have non-problematic internal motivations in "Western" English, motivations that would explain why the features in question 1) develop in "Western" English, and not in "Eastern" English, 2) develop, or appear, generally in post-AS English, and 3) develop at all, and have in many cases become accepted as standard, in English, though not generally in other Germanic. But this assumption, as will be shown, is not true, so in the end the superstratalist approach degenerates into a case of ignotium per ignotius.

The second question is what Englishes are Celtic Englishes. Is there such a sharp separation between the Celtic Englishes and the non-Celtic Englishes as is traditionally assumed? Can "Western" English casually be assumed not to be a Celtic English? Or does it owe much of its nature to earlier Celtic substratal influences? The article will investigate the extent to which "Western" English, as evidenced both in Middle English texts and in modern traditional dialects, shows features that link it with the more modern Celtic Englishes (and Breton-French), and the Celtic languages. It will be shown that there is no objective linguistic basis for regarding "Western" English as a non-Celtic English. The conclusion is that a blanket denial of Celtic substratal influence in the case of the known Celtic Englishes does not allow us to deny substratal influence in the long run: significant Celtic substratal influence must have occurred, either in the modern period or the medieval period, or in both, or we have no explanation for the evidence seen.

Another question is whether there is any sharp separation between "Western" English and standard English. There is not: though "Western" English is often presented as non-standard, many of the characteristic typologically Celtic innovations of "Western" Middle English were in fact accepted into standard English. The conclusion will be that in English there only degrees of "Celticity": strongest in Irish and Welsh English, intermediate in "Western" English, and weakest (though still strong) in standard English. Beyond either end of the putative Celticity scale within English, the highest degree of Celticity is of course found in Celtic, and a low degree of Celticity, possibly from Belgic, may perhaps be seen in Frisian and coastal Dutch. The primary focus of the article will be areal maps, medieval and modern in period, for the features in question, demonstrating the gradience of Celticity within the area. It is hoped that in many cases new evidence concerning the dialectal provenance of some of the less-studied innovations will be adduced.

Markku Filppula, Juhani Klemola and Heli Pitkänen
(Joensuu), (Tampere), (Joensuu)

What's Celtic and what's English in the 'Celtic Englishes'?

This paper will focus on a number of syntactic constructions and phonological features that are typical of such regional varieties of English as Irish English, Welsh English, Scottish English, Manx English and thus provide support for the concept of 'Celtic Englishes'. In addition to the Celtic Englishes, the paper will also discuss some features of English English that can be argued to show Celtic substratum influence. Instead of using standard English alone as a point of reference, special attention will be paid to the traditional dialect data from the Survey of English Dialects (SED) tape-recordings and Basic Material. We argue that evidence from traditional dialects of English English provides a more realistic point of reference than standard English for assessing the impact of the Celtic languages on the development of English English.

Continuity and change in Celtic personal names: evolving patterns of cultural identity in Ireland and Brittany

In two independent articles, Liam Mac Mathúna delves into the complexities of the Irish personal naming systems, while Gary German concentrates on the symbolic weight of Breton names. The two papers set out the historical systems of naming, native to Brittany and Ireland before tracing their various responses to the centralizing administrations of Paris and London. They treat the phenomena of dual naming and show how the Breton and Irish-speaking populations sought to subvert the official pressures by maintaining native and non-native anthroponymic systems, side by side. The forms and functions of these systems constitute the focus of the two papers, each of which concludes by responding to the central issues raised by the other.

Gary German

Cultural Identity and the symbolic weight of anthroponyms in Brittany

What is perhaps most striking about Breton anthroponyms is the great antiquity of the naming tradition in Brittany, much of which reaches back to the period of the Brythonic emigrations to Armorica (5th - 7th centuries). Quite remarkably, many of the old Breton names such as Budhoiarn ("victorious with iron") or Catuuallon ("valorous in battle") that are recorded in the Cartuliaire de Redon, and which have direct parallels with the poetry of the Welsh cynfeirdd, are still common today under their modern forms (i.e. Bizouarn and Cadalen). Even when surnames are not directly traceable to British heroic-age culture (warrior or saint's names), they nearly always retain their Celtic forms often appearing as epithets relating to individual character or physical traits: Goyat "liar"; an Tallec "big-browed", Berhouc "short neck", etc. References to professions, place names and saints are also prominent. Taken collectively, Breton surnames reflect naming practices which tell us much about the living conditions and values which animated mediaeval Breton society. The first part of this paper will thus be devoted to discussing the historical background and early development of Breton anthroponyms. Whenever pertinent, references to Welsh evidence will be made.

As the fashion for ascribing first names gradually gained prominence during the 15th and 16th centuries, the Catholic church and, more recently, the French government, imposed the use of first names which were "ni ridicule ni absurde" and had "une consonnance agréable et conforme aux lois de la phonétique française" (cf. la loi du 11 Germinal - An XI). In this way, while the old Breton surnames were fully accepted and eventually assumed hereditary status, French first names such as Jean, Pierre, Marie, Catherine and so on were the only forms permitted in the parish and communal registers. At the popular level, however, a lively oral tradition intimately associated with Breton rural culture and dialectal Breton also arose along side the names officially sanctioned by the French State. Thus, a child registered at the mairie under the name of Yves Cadoret (< Catuuoret ; "refuge/assistance in battle") and who lived on a farm called Kergonan was generally known locally as Youenn Kergonan. Furthermore, he often had a nickname linked to his occupation, a humorous incident in which he was involved or, more frequently, a physical or character flaw. Women's names were handled in a similar fashion. Similarities to this tradition are also found in other Celtic-speaking countries.

Thus, while French names were retained for official functions, the Bretonised forms of these names were (and still are) used at the popular and affective levels by the majority of the Breton-speaking population (i.e. 90% of Finistère in 1900). Sociolinguistically, however, it is important to point out that these Bretonised French names, like the popular spoken language itself, are generally stigmatised and have a number of dialectal variants.

Following the highly publicised "Manrot" decision of 1964, a landmark case which first granted people the right to select a wider range of Breton names (but not all), increasing numbers of parents have now begun to select not only Breton but also Welsh, Cornish, Irish and even English first names for their children. We shall conclude with the hypothesis that these recent naming practices favouring the choice of Breton or Celtic names (cf. Awenna, Sklerijenn, Gwenc'hlan, Goulwenna, etc.) over more traditional Bretonised French names (cf. Marlouch, Fin, Jos, Steon, etc.) are part of a much broader movement marking a shift away from a fast disappearing rural peasant culture towards an expanding, middle-class, urbanised society which shares an idealised vision of Brittany and its language and culture.


Liam Mac Mathúna

What's in an Irish name?: A study of the personal naming systems of Irish and Irish English

In 1561 the Dublin apothecary, Thomas Smyth, spoke disparagingly of those who were descended "of the septs of Ose and Max". This was a convenient assignation, based on the most prevalent initial elements in native Irish surnames, and served to identify readily the Pale's troublesome neighbours. Although the 1366 Statutes of Kilkenny had ordained that "every Englishman do use the English language, and be named by an English name, leaving off entirely the manner of naming used by the Irish", the English poet Edmund Spenser, who lived in Co. Cork, was concerned as late as 1596 that families of the Old English had succumbed to Irish naming ways. But whereas the surnames of the English colonists, like those of the Anglo-Normans before them, had been assimilated into the Irish language, the Tudor conquest led to a thoroughgoing anglicisation of Irish personal names, with a whole system of Irish-English equivalences for first names and surnames being established.

This one-for-one correspondence across the two languages was underpinned by an approximate phonetic reproduction in English orthography of the Irish sounds of both first names and surnames. However, by the 18th century the characteristically Irish initial elements of O and Mac were being abandoned by the Irish, under increased societal pressure in order to conform to the official norm. Ethnic markers, O and Mac were borne self-consciously by the Irish and resented as alien by the English. On the other hand, since the 19th century there has been an inexorable rise in the re-prefixing of O'/O# and Mac/Mc/Mac# to anglicised surnames from which they had earlier been dropped.

This paper parallels one given at the Celtic Englishes II colloquium on the theme of "Toponyms across languages: the role of toponymy in Ireland's language shifts". While the history of personal names displays general similarities with the fortunes of place-names, it also shows significant differences, as both first and second names are closely bound up with the ego-identity of those to whom they belong.

This study will examine how the indigenous system of Gaelic personal names was moulded to the requirements of a foreign, English-medium administration, and how the early 20th century cultural revival prompted the re-establishment of an Irish-language nomenclature. It will set out the native Irish system of surnames, which distinguishes formally between male and female (married/unmarried) and show how this was assimilated into the very different English system, where one surname fits all. The naming system of Modern Irish is currently under a new kind of pressure, as it reacts in different ways in the Gaeltacht and outside it to the desire of women to be no longer marked as married/unmarried by the form of their surname.

Erich Poppe

The Celticity of English Relative Clauses (and Related Matters)

Zero-relatives, that is relative clauses without relative particles, have been considered to be one symptom of the Celticity of Standard English (compare Tristram, How Celtic is Standard English, p. 24). In the first part of my paper I will review critically the Welsh evidence as well as the history of scholarship on Welsh relative clauses and their possible influence on English relative clauses, and I will argue that the underlying ideas about the form of Welsh relative clauses rest on some Welsh grammarians' normative and Latin/English-based views on the syntax of relative clauses. In the second part I will discuss aspects of the typology of the use of relative pronouns and/or particles as well as possible relations between the form of relative clauses and word-order features of a language. Finally I will briefly address the question whether the emergence in contemporary German of an non-inflected relative particle wo, and particularly its combination with prepositions (as in ? das Mädchen, wo unsere Tochter nicht mit spielen soll), has any bearing on the English development.

Raymond Hickey

Dialect divisions in Ireland and their Celtic background

There is a standard wisdom on varieties of English in Ireland that these fall into two major groups, a northern and a southern one. This is undoubtedly true, but the details of the north-south split have not been worked out as yet and scholars in the field of Irish English (e.g. Ó Baoill 1997) have been content to repeat statements by authors such as Gregg (1972) or for Ireland in general Henry (1958), see Kallen (2000). The large amount of recorded data (over 1,500 recordings) gathered for A Sound Atlas of Irish English (Hickey 2004) has revealed a much more differentiated picture with many overlapping features. For instance, the northern high mid u was found to extend down to south Co. Meath while the breaking of the diphthong in the FACE lexical set halted abruptly around the political border between the north and south. Other features are found throughout Ireland and show a distribution which is defined by the relative standardness of speakers' speech. The dentalisation of /t/ and /d/ before /r/ is such a feature as is the metathesis of short vowel and /r/ (in a word like modern) or epenthesis in clusters of /-rm/ (arm) and /-rn/ (burn) or /-rl/ (girl), but standard in /lm/, e.g. film.

The dialect picture which has emerged from A Sound Atlas of Irish English is one which assumes an east coast dialect area (that of oldest English settlement), a northern region - albeit with fuzzy transition to the south - and a larger block in the south-west and west of Ireland. The sound atlas also revealed archaic layering in areas of older English settlement. For instance, there are clear attestations of a uvular r in north Leinster (roughly between Drogheda and Dundalk), a feature hitherto assumed only to exist in the anglophone world in Northumberland (as the so-called burr, see Påhlsson 1972).

Dialect mapping in Ireland must of course also pay attention to the rural - urban split in the country. Vernacular accents of the larger cities, e.g. Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Derry, are quite distinct and link up their respective rural hinterlands. Some of these accents have not been described at all yet, such as that of Cork with a much larger intonational range than anywhere else in the country.

The development of accents, especially more recent ones in Dublin and among sections of the population which do not show a strong regional identity (Hickey 2003), is a matter which is connected to the perception of dialects. In this paper a report is given on a perceptual study done in Dublin with over 200 informants concerning their notion of dialect divisions outside the capital city.


Gregg, Robert J. 1972. "The Scotch-Irish dialect boundaries in Ulster", in Wakelin, Martyn (ed.) 1972. Patterns in the folk speech of the British Isles. (London: Athlone Press), pp. 109-39.
Harris, John 1984. 'English in the North of Ireland', in Trudgill, Peter (ed.) 1984. Language in the British Isles. (Cambridge: University Press), pp. 115-34.
Henry, Patrick Leo 1958. 'A linguistic survey of Ireland. Preliminary report', Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap [Lochlann, A Review of Celtic Studies] Supplement 5: 49-208.
Hickey, Raymond 2002. 'Historical input and the regional differentiation of English in the Republic of Ireland', in Katja Lenz and Ruth Möhlig (eds) Of dyuersitie & chaunge of langage. Essays presented to for Manfred Görlach on the occasion of his 65th birthday. (Heidelberg: Winter), pp. 199-211.
Hickey, Raymond 2003. 'What's cool in Irish English? Linguistic change in contemporary Ireland', in Hildegard L. C. Tristram (ed.) Celtic Englishes III. (Heidelberg: Winter).
Hickey, Raymond 2004. A Sound Atlas of Irish English. Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter.
Kallen, Jeffrey L. 2000. 'One island, two borders, two languages: A look at linguistic and political borders in Ireland', International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 145:29-63.
Ó Baoill, Dónall 1997. 'The emerging Irish phonological substratum in Irish English', in Kallen, Jeffrey L. (ed.) 1997. Focus on Ireland. (Amsterdam: John Benjamins), pp. 73-88.
Påhlsson, Christer 1972. The Northumbrian burr. A sociolinguistic study. Lund Studies in English, Vol. 41. Lund: University Press.

Elvira Veselinovic

How to put up with cur suas le rud and with the bidirectionality of contact?

In Old Irish verbs are frequently combined with preverbs. This is also true for the Germanic languages, including most modern varieties, with one notable exception: Contemporary English. Preverbal composition and most of the inflexional system in Irish were given up during the Middle Irish period leading to a dramatically different morphosyntax. A strikingly similar development occurred in English, distinguishing it from other modern Germanic languages, where pre-verbal composition is still highly productive.

The first part of this paper will analyse basic verbal concepts expressed by means of complex predicates in Irish but simple verbs in languages other than Irish; these include the vast majority of intransitive verbs such as stand, sleep, cough, bark, die etc. I will challenge traditional views on e.g. noun/verb distinction and transitivity. A crucial part of my argument will depend upon the parallel occurrence of Phrasal Verbs and Support Verb Constructions (Gm. "Funktionsverbgefüge") in Modern Irish and Modern English.

The second part deals with the question "What actually IS a verb in English and Irish?" Is every single member of the large class of complex predicates a verb, or should we rather restrict the category to the relatively small number of "light verbs" which show verbal syntax and morphology? After comparing the two systems, I shall question whether the assumption - usually taken for granted - that English gave up verbal composition under Scandinavian influence is justified, or whether it is better to account for this development in the context of areal typology in the British Isles (cf. Wagner 1959).

Alan Kent

"Bringin' the dunkey down from the Carn": Cornu-English in Context

Iche am a Cornyshe man, ale che can brew?
It wyll make one to kacke, also to spew;
It is dark and smoky, and also it is dyn;
It is lyke wash, as pygges had wrestled dryn.
Andrew Boorde, c.1540

Eee wuz fo-wur fut nothun,
eed go ta a do un sey,
"Who wuz the tallust bloke
furr I cum un?"
King Arthur, by Les Merton, 2000

In this paper, I propose to give an historical overview of the development of Cornu-English and look at its important function in defining identity. I shall trace its development from the period of language transition (Cornish to English) in Renaissance Cornwall, as well as its cultural highpoint during the industrial revolution. I shall examine how Cornu-English was reduced to 'comic' status in the early twentieth century, as well as its use within day-to-day communication. Finally I will explain how there is now a growing increase in the use of Cornu-English, not only by young people, and its interaction with the surfing community in Cornwall, but also by new writers, poets and theatre companies. The new cultural geography of language expression in Cornwall will also be explored alongside the role of Cornu-English in the Cornish Diaspora in Australia, America and South Africa.

Within this remit, I shall also explore how the Cornish language revival in general has kept distance from Cornu-English, despite the high number of Cornish language words and grammatical forms which have entered English in Cornwall. Cornu-English has been viewed by some members of the Cornish language community as 'corrupt' and deny its Celticity. Time will also be devoted to some of the specific survivals of Cornish within Cornu-English, as well as the invention of new Cornu-English, for example, the term used for a cash-point machine: in Cornu-English 'bank-hole'. Throughout the paper, I will be concerned with the debate of what is Cornish and Celtic about Cornu-English and what this 'Celticity' consists of. Cornu-English has received relatively little attention in the academy, but now scholars such as myself are investigating its development and literature. I aim to include video footage and audio material.

John M. Kirk and Jeffrey L. Kallen
(Belfast), (Dublin)

Standard Irish English: How Celticised? How Standardised?

The completion of the one-million-word Irish Component of the International Corpus of English (ICE) has provided an unprecedented resource for the study of English in Ireland. By its systematic selection of spoken and written registers from both sides of the border, it provides a wealth of new data from social and situational contexts where the use of the standard language would normally be expected. But how typical is this standard Irish English of standard British or American English? How standardised is the language at all? How revealing is it of features transferred substratally from Irish? How reflective on contact transfer or conservative retention is this language? How Celticised? Is it more Celticised than standardised?

This paper will provide an overview of the results generated from analysis of the ICE-Ireland data in their geo-and socio-linguistic contexts and from their interpretation. At the time of drafting (June 2003), the paper will likely focus on lexical, morphological, syntactic and discourse-structural features but, in the light of developments, some restriction may prove necessary; at any rate, the paper will attempt to provide a clear and critical answer to the Celticisation/standardisation debate.

This paper will be among the first to present results and conclusions from ICE-Ireland. It belongs to a symposium designed to explore the Celticity of the Celtic Englishes. It will be the first paper to examine a corpus of standard English within the framework of the Celtic Englishes.

Kevin McCafferty

Irish English: A Historical Sociolinguistic Study of the Formative Years

If English may be called a 'Celticised' Germanic language, the more marked Celticity of Irish English - and the Englishes of other regions where Celtic languages persist or survived until recently - is the product of more recent language contact and shift (Tristram 1999: 30-31). Ireland became a largely monolingual English-speaking country by the late 19th century, but commentators of the period (e.g. Hume 1878) regarded contemporary Irish English as too new and unstable for meaningful, systematic dialect study. Its very newness and instability, however, make the Irish English of this era interesting, for it is in this period of shift that the effects of language contact and universal constraints on acquisition will be most apparent. Nonetheless, this formative period still represents a gap in the history of Irish English, which is at least partly due to a lack of appropriate data and secondary literature (Hickey 2002: 41-42).

We have no systematic 18th- or 19th-century dialect surveys of Ireland, but vernacular written data - letters, diaries, memoirs, and other personal papers, etc. - is available for the study of more informal Irish English of the time (cf. Schneider's (2002) model of relations between text types and speech). Such material has previously been studied by scholars seeking the British Isles origins of dialect features of North American and other overseas varieties of English - most notably by Michael Montgomery (e.g., 1989, 2000) - or charting Irish emigrants' accommodation to general Australian English (Fritz 2000). The present study uses data similar to that examined by these researchers, but adopts the historical sociolinguistic approach of Nevalainen & Raumolin-Brunberg (e.g. 1996, 2000, 2003) in order to study variation across social strata appropriate to a pre-industrial, colonised society.

The study also adapts Filppula's (1999: 275) categorisation of grammatical features into 'clear' - or, as I prefer 'primary' - and 'less clear' - or 'secondary' - substratum influences. Primary substratum features - e.g., after perfects, subordinating and, and certain cleft constructions - have direct, grammaticalised parallels in Irish. Secondary substratum features - e.g. unbound reflexives, indefinite-anterior, medial-object and extended-now perfects, various forms of do periphrasis, plural subject-verb concord, and inversion in indirect questions - do have Irish parallels, but the possibility of diffusion from other varieties of English or retention of features from earlier stages of the language cannot be discounted.

The analysis of primary and, more especially, secondary substratum influences attempts to provide a detailed historical sociolinguistic account of the origins and diffusion of Celtic features of Irish English, and where appropriate also their decline. It also assesses the relative importance of substrate and superstrate inputs, and addresses the issue of the Celticity of Irish English in real time throughout the period of language shift. Finally, surveys and empirical papers on other Celtic Englishes, as collected in, e.g., the volumes edited by Tristram (1997, 2000, 2003) and Filppula et al. (2002), will afford a comparative perspective on the features studied.


Filppula, M. 1999, The Grammar of Irish English. London.
Filppula, M., J. Klemola & H. Pitkänen eds. 2002, The Celtic Roots of English. Joensuu.
Fritz, C. 2000, "The Irish in Australia. Aspects of Linguistic Accommodation", in Tristram, H.L.C., ed., The Celtic Englishes II. Heidelberg, 57-74.
Hickey, R. 2002, A Source Book for Irish English. Amsterdam.
Hume, A. 1878, Remarks on the Irish Dialect of the English Language. Liverpool.
Montgomery, M.B. 1989, "Exploring the Roots of Appalachian English". English World-Wide 10: 227-278.
Montgomery, M.B. 2000, "The Celtic Element in American English", in Tristram, H.L.C., ed., The Celtic Englishes II. Heidelberg, 231-264.
Nevalainen, T. & H. Raumolin-Brunberg 1996, "Social Stratification in Tudor English?" in Britton, D. ed., English Historical Linguistics 1994. Papers from the 8th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics. Amsterdam, 303-326.
Nevalainen, T. & H. Raumolin-Brunberg 2000, "The Changing Role of London on the Linguistic Map of Tudor and Stuart England", in Kastovsky, D. & Mettinger, A., eds., The History of English. A Contribution to Historical Sociolinguistics. Berlin, 279-337.
Nevalainen, T. & H. Raumolin-Brunberg 2003, Historical Sociolinguistics. London.
Schneider, E.W. 2002, "Investigating Variation and Change in Written Documents", in Chambers, J.K., Trudgill, P. & Schilling-Estes, N., eds., The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Oxford, 67-96.
Tristram, H.L.C. ed. 1997, The Celtic Englishes. Heidelberg.
Tristram, H.L.C. 1999, How Celtic is Standard English? St. Petersburg.
Tristram, H.L.C. ed. 2000, The Celtic Englishes II. Heidelberg.
Tristram, H.L.C. ed. 2003, The Celtic Englishes III. Heidelberg.

Joan Beal and Karen Corrigan
(Sheffield), (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne)

The Impact of Nineteenth Century Celtic English Migrations on Contemporary Northern Englishes: Tyneside and Sheffield Compared.

Although the urban dialects of Tyneside and Sheffield are both recognisably 'Northern' in their phonology, they are more divergent at the lexical and morpho-syntacic levels, Tyneside, arguably, showing more affinity with Celtic Englishes as a result of the number of Scottish and Irish migrants who settled there in the late nineteenth century (cf. Beal, 1993: 189ff.) when the demand for labour during the industrial revolution reached its peak (cf. Mess, 1928). Indeed, the city still boasts an Irish centre and has a thriving Caledonian society both of which are the vehicles for the expression of a persistent Celtic ethnicity within the region (cf. Barron and Everitt, 1996). Historically, the Irish born communities in Northumberland and Durham in the mid-nineteenth century represented the fourth largest concentration of Irish in England and Wales and the continuing close relationship between the Scots and the Northumbrians reinforces similarities between Tyneside English and Lowland Scots which date back to their common origin. Although Beal (1993), Mess (1928) and Watt (1998) all cite the contribution of these Celtic migrants to Newcastle who, "by the distinctiveness and the strength of their traditions" exercised a powerful influence on the local community (cf. Watt (1998: 116)), the effect of Irish- and Scots-English on the dialects of Tyneside and Northumberland has never been thoroughly investigated. Given the size of the Celtic diaspora community noted earlier, it cannot be discounted, and may serve to explain some features of Tyneside English which are uniquely shared with Celtic dialects and are not found in other Northern Englishes such as that of Sheffield. Beal (1993), for example, has speculatively suggested that the use of the form youse for the second person plural pronoun in both Tyneside and Irish-English may be the result of the presence of the Celtic substrate. Similarly, Beal and Corrigan (2002a/b) noted that the distribution of relative markers in Tyneside English is more like that of Ayr in Scotland (Macaulay 1991), than either Standard English or non-Celtic vernaculars elsewhere in the north or in the south of England (cf. Cheshire, 1982). At the phonological level, Watt (1998: 123) posits that the stereotypical Southern Irish-English pronunciation of Wells' lexical set in Tyneside with considerable lip-rounding (phonetic [O:]), by comparison to the forms used in either Received Pronunciation or other Northern Englishes, may also be a contact phenomenon rather than a result of the distinctive Northumbrian 'burr' to which it is usually ascribed (cf. Beal, 1985: 42; Hughes ad Trudgill, 1987; Påhlsson, 1972).

With a view to exploring the extent to which contact with these Celtic Englishes has impacted upon contemporary Northern Englishes, this paper will focus on a comparison of two dialect corpora from this region, The Newcastle Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (NECTE) consisting of data from two linguistic surveys conducted in 1969 and 1994, respectively, and the Corpus of Sheffield Usage (CSU) comprising data from the Survey of Sheffield Usage, collected in 1981. Of particular interest will be the questions posed below:

  • Is there robust socio-historical evidence from the nineteenth century to demonstrate the rather divergent exogenous influences claimed for Tyneside/Northumberland and Sheffield?
  • Can the contemporary dialects of Tyneside/Northumberland and Sheffield be differentiated with regard to the extent to which they do/do not incorporate lexical, phonological and morpho-syntactic features reminiscent of Celtic Englishes?

Barke, M. (1992) 'Population in the mid-nineteenth century: migration', in Barke, M. and Buswell, R.J. (eds.) pp.34-35.
Barke, M. and Buswell, R.J. (eds.) (1992) Newcastle's Changing Map. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: City Libraries and Arts.
Barron, L. and Everitt, A. (1996) "I'm Proud to Have Irish Roots", Final Report to the Tyneside Irish Social and Welfare Unit by the Social Welfare Research Unit, University of Northumbria at Newcastle.
Beal, J. (1985) 'Lengthening of a in Tyneside English' in Eaton, R., Fischer, O., Koopman, W. and van der Leek, F. (eds.) Papers from the Fourth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, pp.31-44. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Beal, J. (1993) 'The grammar of Tyneside and Northumbrian English, in Milroy, J. and Milroy, L. (eds.) Real English: the grammar of English dialects in the British Isles, pp.187-213. London: Longman.
Beal, J. and Corrigan, K.P. (2002a) 'Relatives in Tyneside and Northumbrian English', in Poussa, P. (ed.), Dialect Contact on the North Sea Littoral, pp.125-134. Lincom Europa.
Beal, J.C. and Corrigan, K.P. (2002b) 'A tale of two dialects: Relativization in Newcastle and Sheffield', paper presented at Methods in Dialectology XI, University of Joensuu, August, 2002.
Cambridge, E. and Daniels, C. (1974) 'New light on Sandgate, Newcastle upon Tyne', CBA, Vol.8.
Cheshire, J. (1982) Variation in an English Dialect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cooter, R. (1972) The Irish in County Durham and Newcastle c. 1840-1880. Unpub. MA Thesis, University of Durham.
Corrigan, Karen P. (1992) 'I gCuntas Dé Múin Béarla Do Na Leanbhain: Eisimirce agus an Ghaeilge Sa Naoú Aois Deag' ('In the name of God teach the children English: emigration and the Irish language in the nineteenth century'), in O' Sullivan, P. (ed.)The Irish World Wide, Vol. 2, The Irish in the New Communities , pp.143-161.
Fishman, J. A. (1989) Language and Ethnicity in Minority Social Perspective. Multilingual Matters.
Giles, H. (ed.) (1977) Language, Ethnicity and Intergroup Relations, London: Academic Press.
Giles, H., Bourhis, R. and Taylor, D. (1977) 'Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations', in Giles, H. (ed.)pp. 307-48.
Greenslade, L. (1992) 'White skins, white masks: psychological distress among the Irish in Britain, in O' Sullivan, P. (ed.)The Irish World Wide, Vol. 2, The Irish in the New Communities , pp.201-225.
Hall, S. (1990) 'Cultural identity and diaspora', in Rutherford, J. (ed.) Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence and Wishart.
Hickman, M. (1995) Religion, Class and Identity: the State, the Catholic Church and the Education of the Irish in Britain. Avebury.
House, J.W. (1954) North Eastern England. Population Movements and the Landscape Since the Early Nineteenth Century. Newcastle: Dept. of Geography, King's College.
Hughes, A. and Trudgill, P. (1987) English Accents and Dialects. London: Edward Arnold.
Jackson, J.A. (1963) The Irish in Britain. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Larragy, J. (1993) 'Views and perceptions of older Irish people', Social Policy and Administration, 27: 235-47.
Macaulay, R.K.S. (1991) Locating Dialect in Discourse: The Language of Honest Men and Bonnie Lasses in Ayr. Oxford. Blackwell.
MacDermott, T.P. (1978) 'Irish workers on Tyneside in the nineteenth century', in McCord, N. (ed.) Essays in Tyneside Labour History.
McCord, R. (1977) Essays in Tyneside History. Dept. of Humanities: Newcastle Polytechnic.
Mess, H.A. (1928) Industrial Tyneside: a social survey. London: Ernest Benn Ltd.
Neal, F. (1997) Black '47: the Famine Irish in Britain. London: Macmillan.
Påhlsson, C. (1972) The Northumbrian Burr: A Sociolinguistic Study. Lund: Gleerup.
Sill, M. (1992) 'Irish population of Sandgate in the mid-nineteenth century', in Barke, M. and Buswell, R.J. (eds.) pp.36-37.
Steele, E.D. (1976) 'The Irish presence in the North of England, 1850-1914.' Northern History: A Review of the History or the North of England, Vol. 12.
Stoddart, J., Upton, C. and Widdowson, J.D.A. (1999) 'Sheffield dialect in the 1990's: revisiting the concept of NORMs', in Foulkes, P. and Docherty, G. (eds.) Urban Voices, pp.72-90. London: Arnold.
Swift, R. (1992) 'The historiography of the Irish in nineteenth century Britain', in O' Sullivan, P. (ed.)The Irish World Wide, Vol. 2, The Irish in the New Communities , pp.52-81.
Watt, D. (1998) Variation and Change in the Vowel System of Tyneside English. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Dept. of Speech, University of Newcastle.
Watt, D. and Milroy, L. (1999) Patterns of variation and change in three Newcastle vowels: is this dialect levelling?, in Foulkes, P. and Docherty, G. (eds.) Urban Voices, pp.25-47. London: Arnold.

Augustin Simo Bobda

Celtic Presence in Colonial Cameroon and its Linguistic Legacy

The paper shows that there was an important Irish and Scottish presence in Cameroon in colonial time. The Celtic presence was mostly felt in evangelisation and education, as attested by colonial archives and first-hand information from Cameroonians who lived in that period. The linguistic legacy of Celtic presence in Cameroon includes a large number of pronunciation features in Cameroon English which can be traced to Irish and/or Scottish accents, arguably the input for these features. Examples of this legacy are the patterns of realisation of the NURSE, GOAT, FACE vowels, the TH phonemes, the medial consonant in -Vsion words, and the occurrence of some stress patterns. The evidence for the possible Celtic input to the features discussed includes a comparison with features of other accents which had a different colonial background. The paper does not overlook particular factors which may have helped the features discussed to take root.

Claudia Lange

'Reflexivity and Intensification in Irish English and Other New Englishes

One of the conspicuous syntactic features of Hiberno-English is the liberal use of 'unbound reflexives' as in Is herself at home?, a construction reminiscent of early Modern English usage (e.g. My selfe hath often heard them say, [...] That Lucius Banishment was wrongfully. (Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus IV. IV. 74)) but no longer possible in Standard English. Explanations commonly evoke "input from both earlier English and the Irish substratum" (Filppula 1999: 87), in other words, unbound reflexives are seen as somehow arising out of a conspiracy of superstrate and substrate influence. Interestingly, evidence from other New Englishes suggests that unbound reflexives are by no means restricted to contact varieties where they can be attributed to substrate influence (e.g. Malaysian English: Myself so thin don't eat (Wales 1996:193)). This raises the question whether a third factor has to be taken into account when considering the distribution of reflexives and intensifiers, namely "a universal trend in contact varieties of English" (Sand). In order to explore the explanatory power of this hypothesis, this paper will adopt a crosslinguistic as well as a historical perspective in analysing the use of reflexives in Irish English and other Englishes.


Filppula, Markku (1999), The Grammar of Irish English. Language in Hibernian style. London & New York: Routledge.
König, Ekkehard (2001), "Intensifiers and reflexive pronouns". In: Haspelmath, Martin, Ekkehard König, Wulf Oesterreicher & Wolfgang Raible (eds.), Language Typology and Language Universals. An International Handbook. Berlin etc.: Mouton de Gruyter. (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft). 747-760.
Sand, Andrea (2003) "The Definite Article in Irish English and Other Contact Varieties of English." In: Tristram, H.L.C. (ed.) The Celtic Englishes III, Heidelberg: Winter, 413-430.
Wales, Katie (1996), Personal pronouns in present-day English. CUP.

Peter Siemund

Independent Developments in the Genesis of Irish English

In the study of Irish English it has become customary to analyse the non-standard properties of this variety as either retentions that have been passed on from earlier historical stages of English or as influence from the Irish substrate. Both approaches have a good deal of plausibility, but strictly speaking for most non-standard phenomena it has turned out difficult to decide which of the two alternatives should be given preference.

The main value of discussing the origin of the non-standard features must be seen in the proper historical reconstruction of Irish English. Although this is a very valuable goal in itself, many of the relevant features are well known and have been properly analysed linguistically so that the contribution of this discussion to general linguistic theorising or simply to our knowledge of the structural options of languages perforce remains unsatisfactory. Moreover, this approach reduces the contact situation to an exchange fair of pre-existing structural options, but neglects that it may also have given rise to independent developments.

In focussing on phenomena for which no convincing historical explanation can been provided, I would like to shift the discussion away from the retentionist/substrate debate and towards a closer examination of the contact situation itself as well as the processes and linguistics developments that can plausibly be considered a result of the contact between Irish and English. Such contact induced developments, which in the ideal case are independent of the structural properties of the contact languages, are particularly valuable since they potentially open up a window into the genesis of languages.

The study is based on a new corpus of letters written by Irish emigrants to America between 1700 and 1900. During this period of great contact and massive shift from Irish to English the likelihood of independent developments must have been particularly high. It will be shown that some phenomena contained in these data require an explanation that goes beyond the traditional retentionist/substrate debate.

Copyright ©  Engelbert J.R. Tristram (last update: 30.12.2003 - Engelbert.Tristram@[NOSPAM]succurit.com - http://www.successor.de)