English was imposed upon the Irish, but they have made it their own and have contributed some of our finest literature. Irish English is strongly influenced by Irish Gaelic:

  • r after vowels is retained
  • “pure” vowels (/e:/ rather than /ei/, /o:/ rather than /ou/)
  • /th/ and /dh/ > /t/ and /d/ respectively.

The sentence structure of Irish English often borrows from the Gaelic:

  • Use ofbeordoin place ofusually:
    • Ido… (I usually write)
  • Use ofafterfor the progressive perfect and pluperfect:
    • I wasaftergetting married (I had just gotten married)
  • Use of progressive beyond what is possible in standard English:
    • Iwas thinkingit was in the drawer
  • Use of the present or past for perfect and pluperfect:
    • She’s dead these ten years (she has been dead…)
  • Use oflet you beanddon’t beas the imperative:
    • Don’t betroubling yourself
  • Use ofit isandit wasat the beginning of a sentence:
    • it wasJohn has the good looks in the family
    • Is itmarrying her you want?
  • Substituteandforwhenoras:
    • It only struck meandyou going out of the door
  • Substitute the infinitive verb forthatorif:
    • Imagine such a thingto beseen here!
  • Dropif,that, orwhether:
    • Tell me did you see them
  • Statements phrased as rhetorical questions:
    • Isn’t he the fine-looking fellow?
  • Extra uses of the definite article:
    • He was sick withthejaundice
  • Unusual use of prepositions:
    • Sure there’s no daylightinit at all now

As with the English of the Scottish Highlands, the English of the west coast of Ireland, where Gaelic is still spoken, is lilting, with pure vowels. It, too, is particularly pretty.


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