The Phonology of an East Antrim Dialect

Robert J. Gregg

4.5 The Consonants

Some ME consonants have been changed or lost in Glenoe, but on the other hand several have been preserved, e.g. /h-, hw-, x, -r/, which no longer survive in R.P.

(A) Isolative changes with neither loss nor addition

1. /n̹/ becomes /n/ in the suffix - ing.

(a) always in the p.p. and gerund of verbs:

/go:e̍n/ 'going', /kvme̍n/ 'coming', /bo̥re̍e̍n/ 'borrowing'.

(b) in nouns etc.:

/dźü̥:rn/ 'during', /e̍ wiθe̍n/ 'somewhat' (lit. 'a wee thing'), /fardn/ 'farthing', /ni̥θe̍n/ 'nothing', /sto̥:kn/ 'stocking', /wvln/ 'willing' (n not syllabic).

(c) in proper nouns ending with -ington, -ingham:

/ńjü:e̍nʔn & ńjü̥ʔn/ 'Newington', /we̥le̍nʔn/ 'Wellington', /be̥rme̍nha:m/ 'Birmingham'.

2. ME s becomes ś

/kriś/ 'grease', /pänśe̍rz/ 'pincers', /päś/ 'piss', /päśme̍ül/ 'ant', /püśe/ 'pussy(cat)'; 'an effeminate man', /re̥nś/ & /re:nź/ 'rinse', /śe:p/ 'soap', /slü̥ś/ 'sluice', /śvne̍rz/ 'cinders'.

Note also the surname Close /klo:ś/. In a similar way /z/ becomes /ź/ in /pvźe̍n/ 'poison'.

3. ME /kw/ becomes /k/.

/ke̍/ 'quoth' (in the phrase /ke̍ ˈhi:/ and /ke̍ ˈśi:/ i.e. 'quoth he' and 'quoth she' used in narrating but now obsolete), /ke̍te:śe̍n/ 'quotation', /ko̥et/ 'quoit', /kośe̍nt/ 'quotient', /ko:t/ 'quote'.

4. Intervocalic t becomes r.

This change presupposed a single-flap /r/ as an intermediate stage. It is much more frequently met in neighbouring dialects (e.g. Mid- and Mid-North Antrim) than in Glenoe. The following, however, are Glenoe examples: /go̥:n e̍r da:t/ 'go on out of that', where 'out of' goes through the stages /ü̥te̍/ to /e̍te̍/ to /e̍de̍/ to /e̍re̍/ to /e̍r(e̍)/. /ge̍r da:t/ 'go out of that', /bäk e̍r da:t/ 'back out of that' (the 'halt' command to a horse).

5. /w/ becomes /v/.

/karve/ 'caraway'.

Note also the surname Irwin /e̥rve̍n/.

6. Other individual examples of isolative consonant change /b/ to /v/: /ge:vl/ 'gable', /me̥rve̍l/ 'marble' (plaything).

/f/ to /h/: /he̥:θ/ & /fe̥:θ/ 'faith' (as an exclamation).

/l/ to /n/: /ke̍ˈno:g/ 'collogue, confabulate' (cf. Survey of English Dialects).

/l/ to /r/: /dze̍ˈrü:z/ 'jalouse, surmise' (cf. Survey of English Dialects).

/l/ to /t/: /ste̥reke̍t/ 'hysterical' (with aphaeresis; the change /l/ to /t/ may be due to the analogy of p.p.-type adjectives, e.g. /krvke̍t/ 'crooked', /krabe̍t/ 'crabbed', etc.)

/m/ to /n/: /gre̍ind än/ 'grimed in' (cp. 4.2.21 (D) above), /pante̍me̍in/ 'pantomime'.

/n/ to /l/: /tśämle/ 'chimney'.

/tś/ to /ś/: /śaevz/ 'chives'.

Note: the /k/ in /brvkl/ 'brittle' does not represent a sound change from the /t/ found in R.P., but goes back to a form with /k/, viz. OE brucel.(78)

(B) Combinative changes with neither loss nor addition

1. ME /sj/ (written ci, si, su, ti, etc.) becomes Glenoe /ś/ as in R.P., e.g. in words ending with -cial, -cience, -cient, -tient, -tience, -sion, -tion.

/e:nśe̍nt/ 'ancient', /ko̥nśe̍nz/ 'conscience', /pe:śe̍nt/ 'patient', /pe:śe̍nz/ 'patience', /spe̥:śl/ 'special', /mäśn/ 'mission', /no:śe̍n(e̍t)/ 'notion, intention' (whimsical), /täśe/ 'tissue'.

Note, initially: /śü:/ 'sew', /śü̥t/ 'suit'.

2. ME s pronounced /z/ + unstressed -üre in French words gives Glenoe /źe̍r/.

/mäźe̍r/ 'measure', /ple̥:źe̍r/ 'pleasure'.

3. ME -si- pronounced /zj/ becomes Glenoe /ź/.

/de̍säźn/ 'decision', /e̍ke:źn/ 'occasion', /ke̍läźn/ 'collision'.

4. OE c gives (apparently only) Glenoe /k/ for R.P. /tś/. This phenomenon may be due to Scandinavian influence, although doubt has been cast on such a view.(79)

(a) Initially:

/ka:f/ 'chaff', /ka:f-be̥:d/ 'mattress filled with chaff', /kin̥ks/ 'fits of laughter' (ultimately OE cincian), /kärk/ 'church' (only in special phrase Kirk Session), /käst/ 'chest, box'.

(b) Medially and finally:

/de̍ik/ 'bank (with hedge) fencing a field', /jvke/ 'itchy' (obsolete), /ste:n-de̍ik/ 'dry-stone wall', /si̹k(e̍ne)/ 'such (a)' (obsolete, usually /si̥tś/).

Note also Glenoe has /bräg/, /räg/ for 'bridge', 'ridge'.

5. ME d + syllabic r or vowel + r, gives Glenoe d.

This change was once frequent in all dialects in the case of intervocalic d.(80) In Glenoe it also occurs, where d was preceded by l (now lost); but when d was preceded by n, /nd/ has resulted in interdental /n/ (see 3.4.3 above).

(a) Intervocalic d, or ld:

/ble̥de̍r/ 'bladder', /fe̥de̍r/ 'father', /fo̥de̍r/ 'fodder', /ge̥de̍r/ 'gather', /le̥de̍r/ 'ladder', /mvde̍r/ 'mother', /pü̥de̍r/ 'powder', /svde̍r/ 'solder', /śü̥de̍r/' 'shoulder', /de̍gäde̍r/ 'together'. But note:

(b) From — nd:

/dne̍r/ (adv.) 'yonder', /häne̍r/ vb. 'hinder', /hvne̍r/ 'hundred', /sänre/ 'asunder', /śvne̍rz/ 'cinders', /θvne̍r/ 'thunder', /wa:ne̍r/ 'wander'.

This combination /ne̍r/ occurs in many other words without (known) etymological d, e.g. /de̥ne̍r/ 'dinner', /dvne̍r/ 'heavy blow', /skvne̍r/ 'to sicken' (trans.), where the stem without the ending -er has no separate existence. Note, however, ME /d/ gives Glenoe /d/ in /farde̍r/ 'further', /fardn/ 'farthing'.

6. /tj/ gives Glenoe /tś/.

(a) Initially: /tśü̥b/ 'tube', /tśvg/ 'tug', /tśü̥n/ 'tune', /tśvx/ 'tough'.

(b) Medially: /fo̥rtśe̍n/ 'fortune', /ne:tśe̍r/ 'nature' (but cf. 4.4.7 (B) above).

7. Similarly, /dj/ gives Glenoe /dź/.

Initially: /dźü:/ 'due, dew', /dźü̥s/ 'deuce', /dźü̥k/ 'duke'; vb. 'duck', /dźvk/ sb. 'duck', /dźü̥rn/ 'during'. Medially: /pre̍dźü̥s/ (vb.) 'produce', /redźü̥s/ 'reduce'.

8. Metathesis of r

The metathesis of r seems to have been common in OE and especially in the Northumbrian dialect. Apart from those which became established in R.S., the following examples occur in Glenoe:

(a) Vowel + r becomes r + vowel.

/brvst/ 'burst', /krvdz/ 'curds', /skro̥:tś/ 'to shrivel' (from 'scorch').

(b) r + vowel becomes vowel + r.

/bärs(e)/ 'bristle (bristly)' — in reference to hair, /gärn/ vb. corresponding to R.S. grin (but with meaning changed to 'complain', etc.), /hvne̍r/ 'hundred' (through the stages /hvndre̍d/ to /hvnde̍rd/ to /hvnde̍r/ to /hvne̍r/), /skart/ 'scratch',(81) /wa:l-karse̍z/ 'water-cress' (lit. 'well-cresses') also showing the change /e̹r/ to /ar/.

9. Metathesis of -lm-

One isolated example of this change occurs in Glenoe /hwaml/ 'overturn' from ME whelmen;(82) Wyld suggests association between OE *helmian 'cover over' and (á)hwelfan 'cover, overwhelm'.

(C) Loss of ME consonants

1. Loss of b

As in R.P. final b in the group -mb is lost in Glenoe /dvm/ 'dumb', /dźa:m/ 'jamb', /ke:m/ 'comb', /kläm/ 'climb', /plvm/ sb. 'plum' (fruit); 'waterfall'; adj. 'vertical'. Note also /dvme/ 'a dumb person'.

But in Glenoe medial b in the same group is also lost: /rvml/ 'rumble', /täme̍r/ 'timber', /tvml/ 'tumble', /träml/ 'tremble'.

The excrescent b of R.S. (pronounced medially though not when final) has not developed in Glenoe.

/fvml/ 'fumble', /grvml/ 'crumble'; 'fine crumbs', /krvm/ 'crumb', /läm/ 'limb', /θäml/ 'thimble', /θü̥m/ 'thumb'.

2. Loss of d

In Glenoe d is often lost medially after n and finally after l and n.

(a) /hanl/ 'handle', /harle/ 'hardly', /harn/ 'harden', /kanl/ 'candle', /ke̥nl/ 'kindle'

For the treatment of -nder, see 4.5 (B)(5)(b) above.

(b) /ba:n/ 'band', /blän/ 'blind', /e̥:n/ 'end', /e̥:rn/ 'errand', /e̍ül/ 'old', /fil/ 'field', /grvn/ 'ground', /ke̍in/ 'kind', /ke̍ül/ 'cold', /run/ 'round', /θü:zn/ 'thousand', /wvn/ 'wind', etc.

3. Loss of f

/han̥ke̍rtśe/ 'handkerchief', /häze/ 'young girl'; cf. hussy, /se̥:l/ 'self' in its compounds: /me̍se̥:l/ 'myself', etc., /o:/ & /e̍/ 'of' (pronounced /o̥f/ & /e̍f/ in Larne.)

4. Loss of g in the group /n̥g/

In Glenoe /n̥g/ normally gives /n̥/ but /n/ before /θ/.

(a) Medial

1. Before vowels and syllable l

Here Glenoe has lost the /g/ in contrast with R.P., which keeps the group /n̥g/ intact.

/an̥e̍r/ 'anger', /an̥re/ 'angry', /fän̥e̍r/ 'finger', /hvn̥e̍r/ 'hunger', /sän̥l/ 'single', /swän̥l-tri:/ 'swingle-tree'. Forms such as /jvn̥e̍r/ 'younger', /lan̥e̍r/ 'longer', /stro̥n̥e̍r/ 'stronger' may be new formations from the regular positive forms:

/jvn̥/, /la:n̥/, /stro̥:n̥/.

2. Before consonants

Before l

/än̥le̍n/ 'England', /än̥li̥ś/ 'English'.

Note also the surname Inglis /än̥lz/.

Before /θ/

/le̥nθ/ 'length', /strnθ/ 'strength'. Note also /bre̥nθ/ 'breadth'.

(b) Final

As in R.P., final /n̥g/ gives Glenoe /n̥/.

/hän̥/ 'hang', /sa:n̥/ 'song', /tvn̥/ 'tongue'.

5. Loss of l

When preceded by a short back vowel (i.e. a, o, u) ME l has regularly been lost in Glenoe, whether before a consonant or in absolute Auslaut. Sometimes l has been restored in these forms from Larne.

(a) ME -al(-)

/bo̥:/ 'ball', /fo̥:/ 'fall', /ko̥:/ 'call', /o̥:/ 'all', /ha:d/ 'hold' (sb.), /ska:d/ 'scald'; 'tea', /sa:t/ 'salt' etc. (cf. 4.1.8 (C) above).

(b) ME -ol(-)

/neü/ 'knoll', /pe̍ü/ 'poll', /so:dźe̍r/ 'soldier', /svde̍r/ 'solder' (cf. 4.1.21 (A) and (B) above).

(c) ME -ul(-)

/fü:/ 'full', /pü:/ 'pull', /kü̥te̍r/ 'coulter', /śü̥de̍r/ 'shoulder' (cf. 4.1.25 above).

In Glenoe l is also lost initially in the group labial + l + (j). The former existence of the l is borne out by comparison with R.S. or with neighbouring dialects in the case of local words, /bjü/ 'blue', /fjvge/ 'left-handed'; 'clumsy' (cp. Mid-North Antrim /fĺjvg-fäste̍d/), /pjü:/ 'plough', /spja:-fï̥te̍d/ 'splay-footed'; /splja:/ is occasionally heard but is obsolete.

6. Loss of n

Glenoe /n/ occasionally disappears with nasalisation of the preceding vowel in the word /dĩ̥e/ (often smoothed to /dẽ:/) for /di̥ne/ 'do not'. This feature is evident only in a few speakers of the younger generation. Note also /käl/ 'kiln'.

Loss of n in surnames with -nson (unstressed)

/atkese̍n/ 'Atkinson', /hvtśese̍n/ 'Hutchinson', /ro:bese̍n/ 'Robinson', /sti:vese̍n/ 'Stevenson', /wvlkese̍n/ 'Wilkinson'.

7. Loss of r

This is a rare phenomenon and occurs only occasionally by dissimilation in clumsy consonantal clusters of r + consonant + r.

/fo̥:we̍rd/ 'forward', /katri̥dź/ 'cartridge'.

In rapid speech r also tends to disappear in the sequence interdental + /e̍/ + /d/ etc.: /jäste̍(r)de/ 'yesterday', /gvlde̍(r)d/ 'shouted incoherently', /skvne̍(r)d/ 'sickened'.

Note, however, that in all these cases (except /katri̥dź/, which is the regular Glenoe pronunciation) the r is normally sounded by the overwhelming majority of speakers.

Note also /ge̥nse/ (for Guernsey) 'a jersey'.

8. Loss of t

Apart from words in which R.P. has also lost the t (e.g. whistle: Glenoe /hwvsl/), Glenoe has lost t in the following cases.

/bis:/ or /biss/ 'beasts, cattle', /dźo̥es/ 'joist' (plural dźo̥ese̍z), /e̥mpe/ 'empty', /kvrn/ 'currant', /sardźe̍n/ 'sergeant', /wa:rn/ 'warrant'.

Note also these verbal forms (pret. and p.p.):

/ke̥:p/ 'kept', /kre̥:p/ 'crept', /sle̥:p/ 'slept', /swe̥:p/ 'swept', /θre̥:p/ 'threaped, insisted aggressively'.

9. Loss of v

Note the following instances of loss of v in Glenoe

/dil/ 'devil', /gi:/ 'give', /gin/ 'gave, given', /he:/ 'have', /le:/ 'leave', /swil/ 'swivel', etc.

Note also /e̍üe̍r/ 'over' (through vocalisation of v).

(D) Addition of consonants

1. Addition of r

/karke/ 'khaki', /laśe̍rz/ 'eye-lashes', /lo̥ze̍n(d)źe̍rz/ 'lozenges', /pro:k(e̍r)/ 'poke(r)', /θräsl/ 'thistle'.

2. Addition of t

/jänst/ 'once', /se̥rte̍n(t)le/ 'certainly', /svde̍ntle/ 'suddenly'.

3. Addition of /tś/

/svptśe̍re:t/ 'suppurate'.

(E) Voicing of unvoiced consonants

1. /k/ to /g/: /grvml/ 'crumbs'.

2. /t/ to /d/: /ke̥rpe̍nde̍r/ 'carpenter', /ke̍mpe̥de̍te̍r/ 'competitor', /pro̥dese̍n/ 'protestant'.

3. /f/ to /v/: /ka:v/ 'calf' (probably by analogy with the plural).

(F) Unvoicing of voiced consonants

1. /g/ to /k/: /kriś/ 'grease', /tan̥kl/ 'tangle' (a kind of seaweed), /träke̍r/ 'trigger'.

2. /d/ to /t/: /e̍hän(t)/ 'behind', /e̍jo̥nt/ 'beyond', /fo̥re̍t/ 'forward', /hvzbe̍n(t)/ 'husband', /kvbe̍rt/ 'cupboard'.

Note the name /de:ve̍t/ 'David'.

3. /dź/ to /tś/: /kabi̥tś/ 'cabbage', /lvgi̥tś/ 'luggage', /pari̥tś/ 'porridge', etc.

(G) ME Consonants preserved in Glenoe but lost in R.P.

The following consonants (lost in R.P.) are preserved in Glenoe wherever etymologically justified.

1. /h/ appears for orthographic h, except for pronouns in very weak syllables (cf. 3.4.8 above) and where R.P. has restored a historically silent h, e.g. Glenoe /o̥spätl/ 'hospital', /e̥:rb/ 'herb'.

2. /r/ is pronounced wherever it appears in the spelling, except as noted above (4.5 (C)7). Parasitic r is completely unknown, vowels in hiatus being slurred together when unemphatic and separated by a slight glottal stop when emphatic.

3. /hw/ is carefully preserved in all cases where the spelling has wh, except where the spelling is not etymological e.g. /wvlk/ 'whelk', /hü:e̍r/ 'whore', /he:l/ & /ho:l/ 'whole', /hü̥pn-ko̥:x/ 'whooping-cough'.

4. /w/ is kept in /hwo̥:/ 'who', /two̥:/ 'two'.

5. /x/ is still a very characteristic sound of the Glenoe dialect, as it was of ME generally in words (from OE sources) such as: /bo̥:xt/ 'bought', /dra:xt/ 'draught', /e̥:xt/ 'eight', /hix/ 'high', /la:x/ 'laugh', /säx/ 'sigh', /svx/ 'sough', /stre̥:xt/ 'straight', /tśvx/ 'tough'.

Note: /x/ does not appear in 'delight' — Glenoe /de̍le̍it/ (from Old French deliter, ME delíten), where gh is unetymological.

Foreword | Introduction | Phonetics | Vowels | Long Vowels | Consonants | Conclusion | Notes