Journal of Linguistics


Coronal segments in Irish English

Raymond Hickeya1

a1 Englisches Seminar der Universität Bonn

One of the most salient differences between Irish English and Standard English (in the sense of Received Pronunciation, Gimson, 1980:89 ff.) lies in the realization of coronal segments. I use this term in the standard sense of Chomsky and Halle (1968:304) and intend it to be understood as a convenient means of referring to several groups of sounds which happen to have in common that they all involve the raising of the point or blade of the tongue from a putative neutral position. In using this term I do not necessarily pledge my support to its effectiveness in phonological description (see 3.1 below for a discussion of distinctive features with reference to Irish English). Precisely what segments are involved here will be clear from the remarks below. Before starting however, a word on the term Irish English is called for: by it I mean the variety of English spoken in the Republic of Ireland (on this see Barry, 1982:101 ff.) as the phenomena which I will be discussing are either not at all or only partially found in the variety of English spoken in Northern Ireland (consider the realizations of / t /and / d / discussed below which are unique to the Republic). Furthermore I have allowed myself the generalization Irish English although there is considerable variety in the English spoken in the Republic of Ireland. But the term Irish English is used in a fairly restricted sense here: it refers to urban middle-class speech. This excludes contact Irish English (in the areas officially designated as a ‘Gaeltacht’ (Irish-speaking area) in which both Irish and English are spoken), rural Irish English and lower class urban English. References to, and comments on these latter varieties are labelled specifically as such.

(Received January 30 1984)