The Phonology of an East Antrim Dialect

Robert J. Gregg

3 Phonetics

3.1 Phonetic Symbols

Where possible the alphabet of the International Phonetic Association has been used, but owing to the limitations of the type-writer keyboard the following substitutions have had to be made for the normal IPA symbols:


stands forIPAɪ
stands forIPAɛ
ı̣̈stands forIPAɪ̈
ụ̈stands forIPAʊ̈
ästands forIPAæ̈ or ɪ (a very much lowered and centred ɪ)
stands forIPAə
astands forIPAɑ
vstands forIPAʌ̱
stands forIPAɔ

t, d, n, l represent interdental t, d, n, l

r represents a single-flap r

r represents fricative r (i.e. ɹ)

t́, d́, ń, ĺ, represent palatalised t, d, n, l

ś, ź, tś, dź, stand for Ulster 'thin': ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ

? stands for ʔ (the glottal stop)

d stands for ð

ṇ stands for ŋ

3.2 Vowels

No. 1between close and half-close, front
No. 2äopen, front-centred
No. 3ı̣̈between close and half-close, central
No. 4vhalf-open, back
No. 5half-close, central
No. 6ü:close, central, rounded
No. 7ë:half-close, central, slightly lowered and fronted
No. 8iclose, front
No. 9ụ̈between close and half-close, central, rounded
No. 10ehalf-close, front
No. 11half-open, front
No. 12aopen, back
No. 13half-open, back, rounded
No. 14obetween close and half-close, back, over-rounded

3.2.1 Diphthongs

No. 15
No. 16ae
No. 17ọe
No. 18e̍ü
No. 19ee̍(ie̍)

3.2.2 Triphthongs

No. 20e̍ie̍
No. 21aee̍
No. 22ọee̍
No. 23e̍üe̍

* The editors have retained Gregg's original symbols, although it should be noted that whereas he lists, for example, ı̣̈, ẹ, ṇ, (etc.), such symbols are often rendered i̥, e̥, n̥ (etc.) in this chapter to reflect their appearance in the original document.

Conventionalised Diagram showing Glenoe Vowels in relation to Cardinal Vowels (19)

Glenoe vowels

Table of Glenoe Consonants

Labial and Labio-dentalInter-dentalAlveolarPalatalisedPalatalVelarLaryngeal

3.3 The Sounds of the Glenoe Dialect

3.3.1 In the dialect of the Glenoe district as it is spoken to-day the following vowel sounds occur:

Short Vowels (stressed): /i̥, ä, ï̥, v/; (unstressed): /e̍/

Long Vowels: /ü:, ë:/.

Vowels which may be long or short: /i(:), ü̥(:), e(:), e̥ (:), a(:), o̥(:), o(:)/,

Diphthongs: /e̍i, ae, o̥e, e̍ü, ee̍(ie̍)/.

Triphthongs: /e̍ie̍, aee̍, o̹ee̍, e̍üe̍/.

In contrast with types of speech like German or Northern English, but in common with Scottish speech, many of the vowels in this dialect show no relationship between length and quality.(20) It is further extremely difficult to establish absolute criteria for quantity in these vowels. The dialect speaker is often inclined to drawl them, so that to an outsider some of the short ones appear lengthened and the long ones over-long. This drawling tendency is reinforced by a characteristic two-tone falling intonation pattern which has almost the effect of splitting a long or lengthened vowel so that it is articulated with two peaks of intensity, the first with a high tone and the second with a low, e.g. man/mà:n or maan/.(21) It may even be that the lengthening in the example given, and in other similar cases where the vowel is traditionally short, is due to the exaggeration of this falling intonation pattern. We can therefore attempt to distinguish only relative length and shortness, marking only the long and leaving short and half-long unmarked.

It should be observed that the five vowels listed as short are short by nature and are incapable of lengthening, whereas the two listed as long are inherently long and the length of the rest varies according to their phonetic environment.

3.3.2 Short Vowels (stressed)

No. 1 /i̥/ is between close and half-close, front,(22) very near the Received Pronunciation (R.P.) vowel in hit or din. It is of rare occurrence in the Glenoe dialect, arising in stressed syllables as a phonetic variant of /e:/, which is thus shortened and raised in certain fused verbal forms: e.g. /he:/ 'have' becomes /hi̥te/ 'have to', and /de:/ 'do' becomes /di̥ne/ 'do not, don't'. Otherwise it occurs unstressed, in words like /po̥:li̥ś/ 'polish'.

No. 2 /ä/ open, front-centred, is extremely difficult to classify.(23) It is the normal Glenoe equivalent of R.P. short i in hill, bit and the first syllable of finish: /häl/, /bät/, /fäniś/. Compared with R.P. it is a very much lowered and centred sound more akin to /æ/ than to /i̥/. Hence it is represented by /ä/ to show the extreme lowering of the jaw accompanied by the retraction of the tongue back and slightly up into the central vowel area.(24) Further Glenoe examples: /här/ 'her', /häz/ 'his', /gäv/ 'give'. Note the absence of lengthening before /r/ and voiced fricatives.

No. 3 /ı̥̈/ is between close and half-close, central. This vowel has resulted historically from the fronting, unrounding and raising of OE ó. It occurs in words like /gï̥s/ 'goose', /spï̥n/ 'spoon', /sï̥n/ 'soon', /e̍bï̥n/ 'above'. It is thus phonemically as well as phonetically distinct from /i/ and /ä/, e.g. /sï̥n/ 'soon' does not rhyme with /sän/ 'sin' nor /säte/ 'city' with /hï̥te/ 'have to'. This /ï̥/ is very similar to a common Slavonic vowel represented in Russian by ы /ï or ɨ/, but is rather wider.(25) It has also close counterparts in the Celtic languages,(26) e.g. Irish tuile /tïle̍/, im /ïm/, and Welsh yn /ï̥n/. Before /r/, /ï̥/ is replaced by its phonemic variant /ë:/.(27)

No. 4 /v/ is half-open, back. This vowel differs from its R.P. counterpart /ʌ/ in tongue position, but it has similar acoustic qualities. It probably corresponds to the 'backer' variety, which Jones says is generally heard in the North.(28) This 'backer' sound also seems to occur in parts of Scotland, e.g. in Ayrshire, although in other parts the Scots sound is identical with R.P. In Northern Ireland this characteristic Antrim sound is marked off from its Belfast and South Ulster equivalent, which is pronounced further forward and usually has noticeable lip-rounding.(29) The tongue position of /v/ seems to be very near that of /o̥(:)/ for, being itself incapable of lengthening, it is liable to go over to /o̥:/ before a lengthening consonant, e.g. /r/ or /z/, not in Glenoe but some neighbouring dialects which have /do̥:z/ for /dvz/ (Glenoe /di̥z/) and /ho̥:r/ for /hvr/ (Glenoe /här/). Examples from Glenoe: /skvne̍r/ 'to sicken', /spvlpe̍n/ 'rascal', /kvr/ 'cur'. Note that /r/ and the voiced fricatives have no lengthening effect on this vowel.

No. 5 /e̍/ The unstressed vowel /e̍/ is usually half-close, central, near the German final '-e' in words like Gabe /ga:be̍/ and with a decided /i̥/ quality. Examples: /e̥lbe̍ 'elbow'; /pe̍te:te̍/ 'potato'. This /e̍/ occurs stressed as the first element in certain diphthongs and triphthongs.

Examples: /e̍i/ 'always', /je̍ü/ 'ewe', /kwe̍ie̍r/ 'choir', /fe̍üe̍r/ 'four'.

3.3.3 Long Vowels

There are only two vowels which are invariably long, viz. /ü:/ and /ë:/.

No. 6 /ü:/ is close, central, rounded. This characteristic Ulster sound is a very advanced type of /u:/ produced at the front of the central area and therefore phonetically approaching /y:/. Similar fronted /ü:/ sounds occur in Scots speech, and the dialects of south-west England and parts of East Anglia(30) as well as further afield in Scandinavia, e.g. in Swedish hus(31) or Norwegian sluke.(32) It is also noteworthy that this same fronted /ü:/ occurs in Rathlin and Glens of Antrim Gaelic(33) and in Scottish Gaelic.(34)

In Glenoe the /ü:/ sound occurs only in final open syllables: /kü:/ 'cow', /pü:/ 'pull'; and in final syllables ending with the voiced fricatives /v z ź d/: /prü:v/, /brü:z/, /rü:ź/, /smü:d/, with which compare the short, opener /ü̥/ in front of the unvoiced fricatives /prü̥f/, /brü̥s/ 'Bruce', /drü̥θ/ 'thirst, drought'. These vowels are of course maintained unchanged in derivatives and inflected forms, e.g. /brü:zd/, /smü:dd/. In hiatus /ü:/ also occurs: /rü:e̍n/ 'ruin', and medially before /z/ as in /bü:ze̍m/,(35) /rü:zldvnt/ (a type of bread made from potatoes and oat-meal), but not before /v, d/, where the short, wide /ü̥/ is substituted: /me̍nü̥ve̍r/ 'manoeuvre', /śü̥de̍r/ 'shoulder'. By exception /ü:/ occurs medially in /bjü:te/ 'beauty' and /dźü:te/ 'duty', with which compare /bjü̥t/ 'Bute', /dźü̥t/ 'jute'. Directly before final /r/ we find /ü̥:/ to the exclusion of /ü:/ e.g. /dü̥:r/ 'door', /ü̥:r/ 'our', whereas hour is /ü:e̍r/.

No. 7 /ë:/ half-close, central, slightly lowered and fronted, is of rare occurrence in the dialect. It arises historically from the unrounding of the vowels in /flë:r/ 'floor', /bë:rd/ 'board', /pë:r/ 'poor'. It is really not an independent vowel but a phonemic variant of No. 3 above, which it replaces in front of /r/.

3.3.4 Vowels which may be either long or short This class of vowels may be further sub-divided into those which are normally short but can be lengthened, viz. /i/ and /ü̥/, and those normally long but liable to shortening in certain phonetic contexts, viz. /e:/, /e̥:/, /a:/, /o̹:/ and /o:/.

No. 8 /i(:)/ is close, front, slightly below French /i/, which is about cardinal /i/. Even where we would expect historically /i:/ the Glenoe vowel (as in Ulster and Scotland generally) is very short, e.g. /śip/ 'sheep', /hid/ 'heed', /sin/ 'seen'.(36) These vowels are no longer than R.P. short /i̥/ in /śi̥p/ 'ship', /hi̥d/ 'hid', /si̥n/ 'sin'.

Before /r/ we occasionally find Glenoe /i:/ lowered to /e:/ as a phonemic variant, e.g. /pe:re/ 'a peerie, or peg-top', /me̍kle:re/ 'McCleery'. In some cases, e.g. /se:ree̍s/ 'serious', the /e:/ represents an older pronunciation which has been retained. Lengthening takes place in final open syllables and before voiced fricatives, including /r/: e.g. /li:/ 'lie, falsehood', /li:v/ 'live', /bli:z/ 'blaze', /ti:d/ 'teethe', /wi:r/ 'wear'.

No. 9 /ü̥/ is between close and half-close, central, rounded.(37) It is the rounded form of /ï̥/ (No. 3) and arises from the shortening and lowering of /ü:/ (No. 6), of which it is really a phonemic variant whose use can be determined by an analysis of the phonetic environment, if we note the two exceptions listed under No. 6. In contrast with the latter (which occurs in final open syllables and before medial /z/, final voiced fricatives /v, z, ź, d/, and in hiatus), the sound of /ü̥/ occurs in all closed syllables even where historically long vowels occur in R.P., e.g. /fü̥d/ 'food', /śü̥t/ 'suit', /kü̥rs/ 'course, coarse'. It also occurs medially even before the voiced fricatives /v, d/, e.g. /fü̥te̍r/ 'a clumsy person', /pü̥de̍r/ 'powder'. It must be noted that a lengthened form of /ü̥/ is used before final /r/, e.g. /stü̥:r/ 'dust', /mü̥:r/ 'moor', /śü̥:r/ 'sure'. The remaining vowels in this group /e, e̥, a, o̥, o/ are essentially long, although there is usually some shortening before two consonants, one of which is voiceless. The general impression, however, is that there are no absolute criteria for quantity here, for the absolute short is rarely attained and, with a drawling speaker, even the half-long reduced vowels may seem fully long to the outsider.

No. 10 /e(:)/ is half-close, front, slightly lower and less tense than French, German or Scots /e(:)/. Examples: /se:/ 'say', /se:n/ 'sane', /sent/ 'saint', /enśe̍nt/ 'ancient'. When long before a consonant in the same syllable, /e:/ with some speakers is replaced by a centring fracture diphthong,(38) viz. /ee̍/ or /ie̍/, thus /gee̍t/ or /gie̍t/ 'gate', /nee̍m/ or /nie̍m/ 'name'. This pronunciation is felt to be rather vulgar by those who say /ge:t/ and /ne:m/.

In addition to this /e(:)/, which occurs only in syllables bearing some stress, there is also an unstressed short /e/ which replaces R.P. /i̥/ in unemphatic positions, e.g. the prefix be-and the endings -y and -ie. Examples from Glenoe: /begän/ 'begin', /ple̥nte & ple̥nʔe/ 'plenty'.

No. 11 is half-open, front. Its general value is that of R.P. /e̥:/ in /de̥:e̍/ 'there', i.e. slightly more open than the e in English bed, French terre or German Bett. It is often found in place of R.P. a- sounds. Examples: /se̥:n/ 'send', /se̥nt/ 'sent', /bre̥nś/ 'branch', /he̥me̍r/ 'hammer', /gre̥:s/ 'grass', /e̥:ks/ 'axe'.

No. 12 /a(:)/ open, back, generally represents a well retracted variety of a nearer to the vowel in R.P. grass than that in French pas. Examples: /ha:n/ 'hand', /ganś/ 'to stutter', /ska:r/ 'to scare', /skart/ vb. 'to scratch'; sb. 'a cormorant'.

No. 13 /o̥(:)/ is half-open, back, rounded, with tongue position near that of German short o and further back than French open o. It is quite distinct from R.P. or South Ulster /ɒ/, being higher, fronter, and more strongly rounded. Examples: /do̥:l/ 'doll', /go̥:l/ 'gall', /fo̥lt/ 'fault'.

No. 14 /o(:)/ is between close and half-close, back, over-rounded, near in quality and articulation to the Swedish and Norwegian over-rounded o.(39) These very narrow o- sounds, which acoustically approach /u/, are paralleled also in Rathlin and Scottish Gaelic.(40) Examples: /go:/ 'go', /bo:s/ 'hollow', /to:v/ 'boast', /gonte/ 'going to'.

With some speakers there is an exceptional shortening which distinguishes /spok/ 'spoke (of a bicycle)' from /spo:k/ 'spoke', pret. of speak, and /pok/ 'poke, bag' from /po:k/ 'to poke'. Similarly /poke̍t/ 'pocket' is distinct from /po:k e̍t/ 'poke it'.

3.3.5 The Diphthongs

In place of R.P. /ai/ two diphthongs occur in Glenoe just as in Scots speech:(41) a narrow closing diphthong /e̍i/ and a wide closing one /ae/.

No. 15 /e̍i/ consists of the stressed element /e̍/ (No. 5) and the unstressed glide /i/ (No. 8), both elements being short before an unvoiced consonant but the second being somewhat lengthened when a voiced sound follows it.

No. 16 /ae/ is a combination of No. 12 (stressed and long) with No. 10 (unstressed and short).

These two diphthongs (15 and 16) might safely be regarded as belonging to the same phoneme, /e̍i/ being the principal member and /ae/ a variant, although several exceptions must be admitted to the rules which limit the domain of each sound. The variant /ae/ occurs always in a final open syllable and in hiatus, e.g. /bae/ 'buy, by', /dae/ 'dye', /kae/ 'cows', /ae/ 'yes'; 'I', /mae/ 'my', /daee̍l/ 'dial'. Exceptions: /śe̍i/ 'shy', /hwe̍i/ 'why'. Note also /ae/ 'I' and /mae/ 'my' when emphatic normally lose the second element /e/, at the same time lengthening the first: /a:/, /ma:/.

Also before the voiced fricatives /v, z, d/ the variant /ae/ occurs, e.g. /faev/ 'five', /praez/ 'prize', /saed/ 'scythe'. Exceptions: /stre̍v/ 'strive', /dre̍iv/ 'drive', /re̍iz/ 'rise', /we̍iz/ 'wise'. Thrive seems to fluctuate between /θraev/ and /θre̍iv/. In the case of strive, drive, rise, analogy with other verbs may have helped to maintain /e̍i/, which is historically the older sound: cp. /re̍id/ 'ride', /stre̍id/ 'stride'. The /e̍i/ of /we̍iz/ has undoubtedly been determined by the older form /we̍is/, which still survives in Glenoe in the phrase /no: ha:f we̍is/, lit. 'not half wise'.

In all other cases the sound /e̍i/ is found, except in /maen/ 'mine (belonging to me)', which has taken over the /ae/ diphthong from /mae/, and thus contrasts with /me̍in/ 'mine (coal, etc.)'.

Before /r/ a glide /e̍/ has developed, giving triphthongs /aee̍/ and /e̍ie̍/ instead of diphthongs (see below).

No. 17 /o̥e/ combines long stressed /o̥/ (No. 13) with unstressed /e/ (No. 10). Examples: /bo̥e/ 'boy, buoy', /bo̥el/ 'to boil'. Sometimes the first element is so long that the diphthong is split into separate syllables, e.g. /to̥-e/ 'toy'.

No. 18 /e̍ü/ follows the pattern of /e̍i/, i.e. beginning with a short central /e̍/ it passes rapidly on to the fronted /ü/, which is slightly lengthened before voiced consonants. Examples: /ke̍ül/ 'cold', /ne̍ü/ 'knoll, hillock', /ke̍üp/ 'overturn', /mje̍üt/ 'a faint sound'.

This sound is not common in the dialect, for, although the Local Modified Standard speech of Larne uses it for R.P. /au/, words containing the latter diphthong have usually the pure vowels /ü:/ or /ü̥/ in Glenoe (see 3.3.3 No. 6 and 3.3.4 No. 9 above).

3.3.6 The Triphthongs

From these four diphthongs combined with a following /e̍/ we have a parallel series of triphthongs: /e̍ie̍/, /aee̍/, /o̥ee̍/ and /e̍üe̍/.

No. 19 /e̍ie̍/ occurs by exception in front of /r/ in /kwe̍ie̍r/ 'choir, quire', /rekwe̍ie̍r/ 'require', /e̍nkwe̍ie̍r/ 'enquire', /we̍ie̍r/ 'wire'.

No. 20 /aee̍/ is the normal triphthong occurring before /r/: /baee̍r/ 'byre, buyer', /faee̍r/ 'fire', /taee̍r/ 'tire, tyre'; it also represents i + vowel in hiatus: /traee̍l/ 'trial'.

No. 21 /o̥ee̍/ occurs in /e̍mplo̥ee̍r/ 'employer', /de̍stro̥ee̍r/ 'destroyer' etc.

No. 22 /e̍üe̍/ occurs in /tre̍üe̍l/ 'trowel', /re̍üe̍n/ 'rowan', /e̍üe̍r/ 'over', /fe̍üe̍r/ 'four', etc.

3.4 The Consonants

In the Glenoe dialect the consonantal system is rather more complex than that of R.P. It has, for example, a very full set of interdental and alveolar-palatalised consonants, and the unvoiced velar fricative /x/ still thrives in words both of OE and Gaelic origin.

3.4.1 The Plosives: /pb, td, td, kg, ʔ/

Of these, the voiced /b, d, g/ are identical with R.P. but the unvoiced /p, t, k/ when initial are much more strongly aspirated than their R.P. counterparts and would be rendered in narrow transcription by /pʰ, tʰ, kʰ/. This aspiration, however, is less marked than in Southern Irish (brogue) pronunciation, where in the case of /t/ it almost produces the effect of an affricate /ts/. Medially and finally /p, t, k/ are generally pronounced in Glenoe with a simultaneous glottal stop. In some neighbouring dialects especially towards Mid Antrim the oral element is lost, leaving a simple glottal stop for /p, t, k/ medial and final. This is particularly the case with /t/(42) and even in Glenoe, medial /t/ followed by syllabic /n/ is usually replaced by /ʔ/ e.g. /iʔe̍n/ 'eating', /faʔe̍n/ 'fatten'. In Glenoe final /d/ tends to become /t/, e.g. /de:ve̍t/ 'David'.

3.4.2 The Labials

Apart from the aspiration of /p/ as just described, the Glenoe labials are identical with R.P. /pb, m, fv, hw, w/. Although R.P. has generally allowed the last two to fall together under /w/, they are kept quite distinct in Glenoe, and /hw/ is pronounced for orthographic wh except where the latter is not historical, e.g. /wvlk/ 'whelk' from OE wioloc, weoloc, /hü:e̍r/ 'whore' from late OE hóre (cp. ON hóra). With /v/ there is a tendency to unvoicing e.g. /fätś/ is the normal pronunciation for vetch.

3.4.3 The Interdentals: /t, d, n, l, θd/

Of this series only /θd/ occur normally in R.P., although the others may crop up in assimilation. In Glenoe interdental /t, d, n/ occur in the body of a word as phonemic variants of /t, d, n/ when followed directly by -r- and a vowel, by -er- and a vowel or by -er in absolute final positions; likewise interdental /l/ replaces /l/ when followed by /t, d/. Examples: /trae/ 'try', /drae/ 'dry', /kü̥te̍r/ 'coulter, nose', /be̥dre̍l/ 'bed-ridden invalid', /skvne̍r/ 'to sicken', /he̥lte̍r/ 'halter'. It should be observed that with all interdentals, including /θd/, a single-flap type of r is used if the r follows immediately (e.g. /tri:/ 'tree', /θri:/ 'three'), or in the sequence interdental + er + vowel (e.g. /fü̥tre/ 'clumsy', /gvldre̍n/ 'shouting', /sänre/ 'apart, asunder', /bladre/ 'riff-raff, canaille'. In absolute Auslaut, of course, such an /r/ reverts to the normal fricative /r/ e.g. /füte̍r/ 'to work clumsily', /gvlde̍r/ 'to shout'.

The articulation of interdental /t, d, n, l / is as follows: the tongue-tip is usually visibly protruded between the top and bottom rows of teeth, and the area of contact between the tip and blade of the tongue on the one hand and the teeth and gums on the other extends well back on to the fringe of the hard palate. The release of this contact gives a characteristic 'thick' sound, very different acoustically from the corresponding alveolar or palatal sounds. There is a decided impression of a /d/ off-glide, voiced even after the unvoiced /t/ but the impact is in any case that of a single sound. The interdental fricatives /θ, d/ are identical with R.P.

3.4.4 The Alveolars

The alveolar consonants /t, d, s, z, n, r, l/ are all identical in articulation with R.P., except for the stronger aspiration in the case of /t/ (see above). It should, however, be noted that Glenoe /l/ has a very 'light' resonance in most phonetic contexts even where R.P. /l/ is velarised. The velar resonance is so slight even after vowels like /ä, a, v, o̥, o/ that there seems little need of a special symbol e.g. /ɫ/ (or l̴ if interdental) to mark what is only a minor phonemic adjustment. It never approaches the English, Scots or American velarised /ɫ/, whose 'dark' quality is extremely marked.

The alveolar fricative /r/ must be considered as the central member of the r- phoneme and is closely similar to R.P. with perhaps just a shade less retraction. In Glenoe, unlike R.P., the /r/ sound is fully sounded when in final positions or before other consonants. The variant, single-flap /r/, has already been mentioned in connexion with the Interdentals (see 3.4.3 above). After consonants other than these, when initial in a syllable, the /r/ remains slightly 'open', but is articulated with a flap effect, acoustically intermediate between single-flap /r/ and true fricative /r/, e.g. in words like /brvś/ 'brush', /frin/ 'friend'.

Orthographic r may be omitted by dissimilation, e.g. /katri̥dź/ & /ke̹tri̥dź/ 'cartridge', and in rapid speech generally in the group interdental + er + alveolar /t, d, n/ e.g. /jäste̍(r)de/ 'yesterday', /e̥fte̍(r)nï̥n/ 'afternoon'.

3.4.5 The Alveolar-Palatalised Consonants

This series of sounds /ń, ĺ, ś, ź/ is characterised by a dual articulation: the tongue-tip is in contact with the upper gum-ridge and simultaneously the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate. Thus /ń, ĺ/ are distinct from the true palatals of the Romance languages, e.g. French and Italian -gn-, Italian -gl- and Spanish -ll-, in which the tongue tip is behind the lower front teeth and the middle part of the tongue is in broad contact with the back part of the hard palate. The Glenoe sounds are much nearer to the Russian palatalised n and l, although these have a primary dental articulation. In Glenoe there is a distinct /j/ off-glide, which in the case of /ĺ/ has in many cases swallowed up the /ĺ/ itself, leaving only the /j/.(43) Examples: /ńjvk/ 'to steal', 'pinch', /ńjäp/ 'a small quantity' /be̍ˈĺjo̥:r/ 'to bellow, shout', /ĺjü̹ge/ 'a fool'; but /bjü:/ 'blue' from */bĺjü:/, /fjvge/ 'left-handed, clumsy' from */fĺjvge/, /pjü:/ 'plough' from */pĺjü:/ (cf. 4.5(C)5 below).

The Glenoe /ś, ź/ contrast with their R.P. counterparts /š, ž/ in that the secondary movement of the tongue is towards the velum in the latter sounds and towards the hard palate in the former. This gives the Glenoe consonants the typical Ulster 'thin' quality(44) very similar to the Irish Gaelic slender s(45) and to the corresponding sibilant in Scots Gaelic.(46) A further difference is that the R.P. sounds are accompanied by marked lip-rounding, while in Glenoe the lips are spread. Examples are /śü:/ 'shoe', /re:nź/ 'rinse'.

Alveolar /t, d/ combine closely with /ś, ź/ to form the affricates /tś, dź/ corresponding to R.P. /tš, dž/. It should be noted here that the original palatalised /t́, d́/ have now disappeared from Glenoe, having fallen together with these affricates /tś, dź/.(47) Examples: /tśvrtś/ 'church', /dźvdź/ 'judge', /tśü̥n/ 'tune', /dźü̥k/ 'duke'.

In final positions, Glenoe /dź/ is liable to become unvoiced: e.g. /ka:betś/ 'cabbage', /pa:retś/ 'porridge'.

3.4.6 The Palatals

The Glenoe /c̥, j/ are true palatals, in contrast with the palatalised sounds just described, i.e. the tongue-tip is anchored behind the lower front teeth and the middle part of the tongue is raised vertically towards the back part of the hard palate. The /c̥/ sound may arise by assimilation, as when /h/ causes the unvoicing of a /j/ immediately following it, e.g. /hjü:/ or /c̥ü:/ 'Hugh', /hjü̥dź/ or /c̥ü̥dź/ 'huge'; but it usually represents a phonemic variant of the velar fricative /x/ in words like /hic̥/ 'high', /dric̥/ 'wet and miserable (day etc.)', although this /c̥/ is never so far fronted as the similar variant in German (the so-called 'ich-Laut'). The fronted variant /c̥/ in Glenoe is never accompanied by the considerable uvular scrape which occurs with many speakers in the case of /x/ (see below).

The /j/ sound in Glenoe is not strictly the true voiced counterpart of /c̥/. It is vocalic or semi-vocalic rather than consonantal, as it lacks the audible friction of French, German or Spanish /j/. Examples: /je̍ü/ 'ewe', /jäte̍r/ 'to complain'.

3.4.7 The Velars

Velar /k, g, n̥/ in Glenoe are identical with R.P. except for the aspiration of /k/ described above (3.4.1). The velar fricative /x/ occurs with considerable frequency both in words which had this sound in OE and ME and in loan words from Gaelic sources. The sound itself is similar to the German 'ach-Laut' but somewhat further back, and as a result, generally accompanied by a certain amount of uvular scrape. The phonemic limits between /x/ in /la:x/ 'laugh' and /hix/ 'high' are so wide that it may seem desirable to show it by using /c̥/ in the latter word: /hic̥/.

Note that in Glenoe palatalised /ḱ, ǵ, ń̥/ do not occur although they are frequently met in other Ulster dialects.

3.4.8 The Laryngials

The use of the glottal stop has already been described above (3.4.1) in connexion with the plosives. In Glenoe the laryngial fricative /h/ is used as in R.P., i.e. it is not dropped except in the unemphatic form of words like he, him, her, e.g. /eˈgine̍mi̥zˈte:/ 'he gave him his tea'. It is also absent where R.P. has it as a 'spelling' pronunciation, e.g. in /o̥:spätl/ 'hospital', /jü̥me̍r/ 'humour'.

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