The Ulster-Scots Dialect Boundaries in Ulster

Robert J. Gregg


(1) Adams, G. Brendan, 'An Introduction to the Study of Ulster Dialects', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 52C1 (1948), 9-23, gives a description of Urban Anglo-Irish phonology.

(2) Gregg, Robert J., 'Scotch-Irish Urban Speech in Ulster', in Adams, G. Brendan (ed.), Ulster Dialects: An Introductory Symposium (Holywood, 1964), 163-192, describes Ulster-Scots Urban; Abercrombie, David, 'The Way People Speak', The Listener (6 September 1951); Hill, Trevor, 'Institutional Linguistics', Orbis 7 (1958), 441-55, discusses the concept of standard language, specifically Standard English.

(3) See Phonetics Key at the front of this book.

(4) Evans, E. Emrys, 'Some East Ulster Features in Inishowen Irish', Studia Celtica 4 (1969), 81; Evans, E. Emrys, 'The Irish Dialect of Urris, Inishowen, Co. Donegal', Lochlann 4 (1970), 20, 25; Ó Searcaigh, S., Foghraidheacht Ghaedhilge an Tuaiscirt (Belfast, 1925), §31; Holmer, Nils, The Irish Language in Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim (Dublin, 1942), 123-4.

(5) Throughout Ó Searcaigh, op. cit.

(6) Holmer, Nils, On some Relics of the Irish Dialect Spoken in the Glens of Antrim (Uppsala, 1940); Holmer, op. cit. (1942).

(7) Evans, op. cit. (1969); Evans, op. cit. (1970).

(8) Gregg, op. cit.

(9) Jaberg, K., Sprachgeographie (Aarau, 1908); Malkiel, Yakov, 'Each Word has a History of its Own', Glossa 1 (1967).

(10) Gregg, Robert j., 'Notes on the Phonology of a Co. Antrim Scotch-Irish Dialect, Part I, Synchronic', Orbis 7 (1958), 392-406; Gregg, Robert J., 'Notes on the Phonology of a County Antrim Scotch-Irish Dialect, Part 2: Diachronic', Orbis 8 (1959), 400-424.

(11) Now in use only in the Isle of Man. See SED, I, I.1.3.

(12) Heslinga, M. W., The Irish Border as a Cultural Divide (Leiden, 1962).

(13) Ó Searcaigh, op. cit.; Holmer, op. cit. (1940); Holmer, op. cit. (1942); Sommerfelt, Alf, 'South Armagh Irish', Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap 2 (1929); Evans, op. cit. (1969); Evans, op. cit. (1970).

(14) Wagner, Heinrich, Linguistic Atlas and Survey of Irish Dialects (Dublin, 1958-).

(15) Adams, G. Brendan, 'The Last Language Census in Northern Ireland', Ulster Dialects in Adams, G. Brendan, Ulster Dialects: An Introductory Symposium (Holywood, 1964), 111-45, and in personal communication with the writer.

(16) Gregg, 'The Boundaries of the Scotch-Irish Dialects in Ulster' (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1963, to be published by the Institute of Irish Studies, Belfast). The majority were in the age group 60-80 years of age. Only three were under 50, and only three over 90. The oldest (97) and the youngest (25) had perfect control of their US dialects.

(17) In about a quarter of county Down 64 informants were interviewed, i.e. the coverage was at the density of over 250 for the whole county. Cf. the density of 6 informants for the whole of county Durham under the English survey. Down had an area of 609,439 acres and a population of 267,013 in 1967. In the same year the figures for Durham are 649,431 acres, and 1,547,050 population.

(18) Gregg, op. cit. (1958), 400-401.

(19) King, Robert D., Historical Linguistics and Generative Grammar (Englewood Cliffs, 1969), especially chapter 3, for languages with a written record. The experts on unwritten, aboriginal American, Australian or African languages have to rely on the detailed internal analysis, along with the comparative study of purely synchronic materials in order to establish proto-languages and interlinguistic relationships. A. J. Aitken, 'Lowland Scots c. 1350-1370' (MS, Edinburgh, no date), was able, on the other hand, to reconstruct a workable phonology for Lowland Scots in the second half of the 14th century on the basis of written documents.

(20) Gregg, Robert J., op. cit. (1958), and op. cit. (1959). See also 'Phonemic Systems' below.

(21) Actually, all except /ɔe/, which proved to be so marginal and unproductive in providing contrasts with UAI that only a couple of dialect forms with this nucleus were appended to List 12. See Tabulated Summary of Phonological Rules and Final Questionnaire.

(22) Catford, J. C., 'Vowel-systems of Scots Dialects', Transactions of the Philological Society (1957). It is interesting that the US dialects do not match precisely any of the vowel-systems actually described by Catford in phonetic terms. Structurally, of course, Glenoe is a 10-vowel system, consisting of Catford's Basic 8 vowels + AY (where A = /ɔ/ as in cot [kɔ:t], distinct from coat [koːt] and cat [kɑːt], and Y= /ϊ/ as in boot [bϊt] distinct from bit [bæ̈t]). Still, Glenoe differs from Catford's example of AY (north Kirkcudbright), but is very close to his A (Lanarkshire), which — with the boot/bit (/ϊ/ versus /æ̈/) distinction added — would be structurally identical and phonetically very similar to Glenoe. The north Antrim/Londonderry sub-dialects have one type of 9-vowel system while the Mid Ards/west Strangford and Donegal subdialects have another. There is a neutralization in the first group of /ϊ/ and /i/ as in boot [bit], beet [bit], and in the second group of /ϊ/ and /e/, as in boot [be:t], beat or bait [beːt]. The link between Glenoe and Catford's Lanarkshire type is historically valid, for his map (p. 110) shows this 9-vowel system as covering Renfrew and most of north and central Ayrshire — well-known sources of the Scots settlers who came to Ulster in the 17th century. The expansion of Glenoe, etc. to a 10-vowel system and the various neutralizations elsewhere may represent archaic developments within the Scots dialects themselves or may be the result of substratum or other local innovations that took place within Ulster.

(23) Moulton, William G., 'Dialect Geography and the Concept of Phonological Space', Word 18 (1962), 23-32; King, op. cit., 191-202.

(24) Evans, op. cit. (1969), 87-88; Evans, op. cit. (1970), 57-58.

(25) King, op. cit., 105-119.

(26) Evans, op. cit. (1969), 82; Evans, op. cit. (1970), 16, etc.

(27) Dieth, Eugen, A Grammar of the Buchan Dialect (Aberdeenshire), (Zurich, 1932), 8-9.

(28) Gregg, op. cit. (1958), 405.

(29) Ibid., 400, 404-405; Gregg, op. cit. (1959), 416-418; Gregg, op. cit. (1963), 173-174.

(30) A diphthong of this Ulster type — /əü/ — is characteristic of the Ottawa Valley dialect. It has no allophonic variants and is in sharp contrast with the usual Canadian diphthong /aw/ with its allophones [aɷ], and either [əu] or [ʌu], occurring in other parts of Ontario as well as the rest of the country, e.g. out loud: Ottawa Valley [ˌəüt ˈləụ̈d]; other Canadian [ˌəut ˈlaɷd] or [ˌʌut ˈlaɷd].

(31) For drought, Northern American speech often has /drawθ/ (U.S. [dɹaɷθ]; Canadian [dɹəuθ] or [dɹʌuθ]), which would suggest a blend of these Ulster forms or of their originals in the Scots and Midland English dialects.

(32) Also [ˈfʌźən(ləs)], e.g. in Glenoe.

(33) Note the metathesis here: /lm/ > /ml/, which means that /l/ becomes syllabic.

(34) The popular form of this word both in Canada and the U.S. is [ˈɹæsl̩], often actually spelled rassle in newspaper sports reports.

(35) In Donegal US hawk [haːk] is in minimal contrast with hack [haːḱ]. See next paragraph.

(36) In tassle [ˈtɔːsl̩] the /ɔ/ may reflect the influence of the vowel in toss.

(37) The form /dif/ crops up sporadically in the U.S. and Canada for deaf, even in educated speech.

(38) Wilson, J., Lowland Scotch (London, 1915), has drawn up such a list (p. 39) of items with /e/ for the Strathearn dialect of Perthshire which he later contrasts with the list for the central Ayrshire dialect in his book The Dialect of Robert Burns as Spoken in Central Ayrshire (London, 1923). The latter list is almost identical with the comparable items for the US dialect of Glenoe, which again underlines the kinship of US with south-western Scots, specifically Ayrshire and hinterland.

(39) As in the case of words with orthographic ea, a special overall survey of the English-speaking world would be profitable for the words which in various regions preserve a traditional opposition between /ɔ/ and /o/ in the environment of a following /r/, e.g. horse /hɔrs/ versus hoarse /hors/, which has been widely neutralized in the standard speech of British as well as American type. For the present situation in Ulster speech, see Gregg, op. cit. (1963), 170-171. The /ɔ/ versus /o/ opposition is maintained in some parts of the U.S. and is indicated in dictionaries, even the latest, such as Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Jones, Daniel, The Pronunciation of English (Cambridge, 1963), 40, points to the west of England as an area where the opposition is preserved. It is, of course, well preserved in Scotland, but note that in the Scottish dialects as in US, the range of /o/ + /r/ is wider than in the standard forms of speech.

(40) See also comments on US tabulation /əi/ versus /ɑe/.

(41) The form /jo/ for ewe also occurs sporadically in Canada, especially in Ontario.

(42) All Ulster dialects, US and UAI, have /lɛp/ for leap (in a general sense), presumably a back formation from lept /lɛpt/.

(43) Ščur, G. S., 'On the Non-finite Forms of the Verb can in Scottish', Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 11 (1968), 212.

(44) Jaberg, op. cit.; Malkiel, op. cit.

Introduction | Lists 1-7 | Lists 8-14 | Phonetic Systems | Questionnaire | Notes