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Hiberno‐English (also sometimes referred to as Irish English[1]) is the dialect of English written and spoken in Ireland (Latin: Hibernia).[2]

English was first brought to Ireland as a result of the Norman invasion of the late 12th century, although during that time the Normans did not speak English, but rather Norman‐French. Initially, it was mainly spoken in an area known as the Pale around Dublin, with Irish spoken throughout the rest of the country. By the Tudor period, the Irish culture and language had regained most of the territory initially lost to the colonists: even in the Pale, "all the common folk… for the most part are of Irish birth, Irish habit, and of Irish language".[3] However, the resumption of English expansion following the Tudor conquest of Ireland saw a revival in use of their language, especially during the plantations. By the mid-19th century, English was the majority language spoken in the country.[lower-alpha 1] It has retained this status to the present day, with even those whose first language is Irish usually being fluent in English as well.

Modern English as spoken in Ireland today retains some features showing the influence of the Irish language, such as vocabulary, grammatical structure, and pronunciation. Most of these are more used in the spoken language than in formal written language as used in say the Irish Times, which is much closer to Standard British English, with a few differences in vocabulary.


Unlike the United States (see American English) and Canada (see Canadian English), Ireland does not have its own spelling rules and British English spelling is used throughout the island.


Loan words from Irish

A number of Irish-language loan words are used in Hiberno-English, particularly in an official state capacity. For example, the head of government is the Taoiseach, the deputy head is the Tánaiste, the parliament is the Oireachtas and its lower house is Dáil Éireann. Less formally, people also use loan words in day-to-day speech, although this has been on the wane in recent decades and among the young.[5]

Some examples include:

Word Part of speech Meaning
Abú Interjection Hooray! Used in sporting occasions, espec. for Gaelic games – Kerry abú! – 'hooray for Kerry!'
Amadán[6] Noun Fool
Fáilte Noun Welcome – often in the phrase Céad míle fáilte 'A hundred thousand welcomes'
Flaithúlach[7] Adjective Generous
Garsún[8] / gasúr[9] Noun Boy
Gaeltacht Noun Officially designated region where Irish is the primary spoken language
Grá[10] Noun Love, affection, not always romantic – 'he has a great grá for whiskey'
Lúdramán[11] Noun Fool
Plámás[12] Noun Smooth talk, flattery
Sláinte[13] Interjection [To your] health!/Cheers!

Derived words from Irish

Another group of Hiberno-English words are those derived from the Irish language. Some are words in English that have entered into general use, while others are unique to Ireland. These words and phrases are often Anglicised versions of words in Irish or direct translations into English. In the latter case, they often give a meaning to a word or phrase that is generally not found in wider English use.

Some examples include:

Word or Phrase Part of Speech Original Irish Meaning
Arra[14]/ och / musha / yerra[15] Interjection Ara / Ach / Muise / Dhera (conjunction of "A Dhia, ara") "Yerra, sure if it rains, it rains."
Bockety[16] Adjective Bacach (lame) Unsteady, wobbly, broken
Bold[17] Adjective Dána Naughty/badly behaved.
Boreen Noun Bóithrín Small rural road or track
Ceili/Ceilidh[18] Noun Céilidhe Music and dancing session, especially of traditional music
Colleen Noun Cailín Girl, young woman
Fooster Verb Fústar[19] to busy oneself in a restless way, fidget
Gansey[20] Noun Geansaí[21] Jumper (Sweater)
Give out[22] Verb Tabhair amach (lit.) Tell off, reprimand[23]
Gob[24] Noun Gob Animal's Mouth (Beal = human mouth)
Gombeen[25] Noun Gaimbín Money lender, profiteer. Usually in the phrase 'Gombeen man'
Guards[26] Noun Garda Síochána Police
Jackeen[27] Noun Nickname for John (i.e. Jack) combined with Irish diminutive suffix "-ín" A mildly pejorative term for someone from Dublin. Also a self-assertive worthless fellow".[28] Derived from a person who followed the Union Jack during British rule after 1801, a Dublin man who supported the crown. See Shoneen
Shoneen[29] Noun Seoinín (diminutive of Sean – 'John') An Irishman who imitates English ways – see Jackeen
Sleeveen[30] Noun Slíbhín An untrustworthy, cunning person
Soft day[31] Phrase Lá bog (lit.) Overcast day (light drizzle/mist)

Derived words from Old- and Middle-English

Another class of vocabulary found in Hiberno-English are words and phrases common in Old- and Middle-English, but which have since become obscure or obsolete in the modern English language generally. Hiberno-English has also developed particular meanings for words that are still in common use in English generally.

Some examples include:

Word Part of speech Meaning Origin/notes
Amn't[32] Verb Am not
Childer[33] Noun Child Survives from Old-English, genitive plural of 'child'[34]
Cop-on[35] Noun shrewdness, intelligence, being 'street-wise'[36] Middle English from French cap 'arrest'
Craic[37] Noun Fun, entertainment. Generally now with the Gaelic spelling in the phrase – 'have the craic' . Also used in Scotland and northern England with spelling 'crack' in the sense 'gossip, chat' Old English cracian via Gaelic into modern Hiberno-English[38]
Devil[39] Noun Curse (e.g., "Devil take him")[40][41] Negation (e.g., for none, "Devil a bit")[42][43] middle English
Eejit[44] Noun Irish (and Scots) version of 'idiot', meaning foolish person[45] English from Latin Idiōta
Hames[46] Noun a mess, used in the phrase 'make a hames of'[47] Middle English from Dutch
Grinds[48] Noun Private tuition[49] Old English grindan
Jaded[50] Adjective physically tired, exhausted[51] Not in the sense of bored, unenthusiastic, 'tired of' something Middle English jade
Kip[52] Noun Unpleasant, dirty or sordid place[53] 18th-century English for brothel
Mitch Verb to play truant[54] Middle English
Sliced pan[55] Noun (Sliced) loaf of bread Possibly derived from the French word for bread (pain) or the pan it was baked in.
Yoke[56] Noun Thing, object, gadget[57] Old English geoc
Wagon/Waggon[58] Noun an unpleasant or unlikable woman[59] Middle English
Whisht[60] Interjection Be quiet[61] Middle English


In addition to the three groups above, there are also additional words and phrases found in Hiberno-Irish whose origin is disputed or unknown. While this group may not be unique to Ireland, their usage is not widespread, and could be seen as characteristic of the language in Ireland.

Some examples include:

Word Part of speech Meaning Origin/notes
Acting the maggot[62] Phrase Acting the fool, joking.
Banjaxed[63] Verb Broken, ruined, or rendered incapable of use.
Bowsie[64] Noun a rough or unruly person
Bleb[65][66] Noun, Verb blister; to bubble up, come out in blisters.
Bucklepper[67] Noun An overactive, overconfident person Used by Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney[68]
Chiseler[69] Noun Child
Cod[70] Noun Foolish person Usually in phrases like 'acting the cod', 'making a cod of himself'
Culchie[71] Noun Person from the countryside
Delph[72] Noun Dishware From the name of the original source of supply, Delft in the Netherlands. See Delftware.
Feck Verb, Interjection
  1. "Feck it!", "Feck off"[73]
Gurrier[74] Noun a tough or unruly young man[75] perhaps from French guerrier 'warrior', or else from 'gur cake' a pastry previously associated with street urchins
Minerals[76] Noun Soft drinks From mineral Waters
Mot Noun Girl or young woman, girlfriend From the Irish word 'maith' meaning good, i.e. good-looking.[77]
Press[78] Noun Cupboard Similarly, hotpress in Ireland means airing-cupboard Press is an old word for cupboard in Scotland and northern England.
Rake[79] Noun a many or a lot. Often in the phrase 'a rake of pints'
Runners[80] Noun Trainers/sneakers
Shore[81] Noun Stormdrain or Gutter
Wet the tea[82]/The tea is wet[83] Phrase Make the tea/the tea is made

Grammar and syntax

The syntax of the Irish language is quite different from that of English. Various aspects of Irish syntax have influenced Hiberno-English, though many of these idiosyncrasies are disappearing in urban areas and among the younger population.

The other major influence on Hiberno-English that sets it apart from modern English in general is the retention of words and phrases from Old- and Middle-English.

From Irish


Reduplication is an alleged trait of Hiberno-English strongly associated with stage-Irish and Hollywood films.

  • the Irish ar bith corresponds to English "at all", so the stronger ar chor ar bith gives rise to the form "at all at all".
    • "I've no money at all at all."
  • ar eagla go … (lit. "on fear that …") means "in case …". The variant ar eagla na heagla, (lit. "on fear of fear") implies the circumstances are more unlikely. The corresponding Hiberno-English phrases are "to be sure" and "to be sure to be sure". In this context, these are not, as might be thought, disjuncts meaning "certainly"; they could better be translated "in case" and "just in case". Nowadays normally spoken with conscious levity.
    • "I brought some cash in case I saw a bargain, and my credit card to be sure to be sure."

Yes and no

Irish lacks words that directly translate as "yes" or "no", and instead repeats the verb used in the question, negated if necessary, to answer. Hiberno-English uses "yes" and "no" less frequently than other English dialects as speakers can repeat the verb, positively or negatively, instead of (or in redundant addition to) using "yes" or "no".

  • "Are you coming home soon?" – "I am."
  • "Is your mobile charged?" – "It isn't."

Recent past construction

Irish indicates recency of an action by "after" is added to the present continuous (a verb ending in "-ing"), a construction known as the "hot news perfect" or "after perfect".[86][87] The idiom for "I had done X when I did Y" is "I was after doing X when I did Y", modelled on the Irish usage of the compound prepositions i ndiaidh, tar éis, and in éis: bhí mé tar éis/i ndiaidh/in éis X a dhéanamh, nuair a rinne mé Y.

  • "Why did you hit him?" – "He was after giving me cheek."

A similar construction is seen where exclamation is used in describing a recent event:

  • "I'm after hitting him with the car!" Táim tar éis é a bhualadh leis an gcarr!
  • "She's after losing five stone in five weeks!"

When describing less astonishing or significant events, a structure resembling the German perfect can be seen:

  • "I have the car fixed." Tá an carr deisithe agam.
  • "I have my breakfast eaten." Tá mo bhricfeasta ite agam.

This correlates with an analysis of "H1 Irish" proposed by Adger & Mitrovic,[88] in a deliberate parallel to the status of German as a V2 language.

Reflection for emphasis

The reflexive version of pronouns is often used for emphasis or to refer indirectly to a particular person, etc., according to context. Herself, for example, might refer to the speaker's boss or to the woman of the house. Use of herself or himself in this way often indicates that the speaker attributes some degree of arrogance or selfishness to the person in question. Note also the indirectness of this construction relative to, for example, She's coming now

  • "'Tis herself that's coming now." Is í féin atá ag teacht anois.
  • "Was it all of ye or just yourself?" Ar sibhse go léir ná tusa féin a bhí i gceist?

This is not limited only to the verb to be: it is also used with to have when used as an auxiliary; and, with other verbs, the verb to do is used. This is most commonly used for intensification.

  • "This is strong stuff, so it is."
  • "We won the game, so we did."

Prepositional pronouns

There are some language forms that stem from the fact that there is no verb to have in Irish. Instead, possession is indicated in Irish by using the preposition at, (in Irish, ag.). To be more precise, Irish uses a prepositional pronoun that combines ag "at" and "me" to create agam. In English, the verb "to have" is used, along with a "with me" or "on me" that derives from Tá … agam. This gives rise to the frequent

  • "Do you have the book?" – "I have it with me."
  • "Have you change for the bus on you?"
  • "He will not shut up if he has drink taken."

Somebody who can speak a language "has" a language, in which Hiberno-English has borrowed the grammatical form used in Irish.

  • She does not have Irish. Níl Gaeilge aici. literally "There is no Irish at her".

When describing something, rural Hiberno-English speakers may use the term "in it" where "there" would usually be used. This is due to the Irish word ann (pronounced "oun" or "on") fulfilling both meanings.

  • "Is it yourself that is in it?" An tú féin atá ann?
  • "Is there any milk in it?" An bhfuil bainne ann?

Another idiom is this thing or that thing described as "this man here" or "that man there", which also features in Newfoundland English in Canada.

  • "This man here." An fear seo. (cf. the related anseo = here)
  • "That man there." An fear sin. (cf. the related ansin = there)

Conditionals have a greater presence in Hiberno-English due to the tendency to replace the simple present tense with the conditional (would) and the simple past tense with the conditional perfect (would have).

  • "John asked me would I buy a loaf of bread." (John asked me to buy a loaf of bread.)
  • "How do you know him? We would have been in school together." (We went to school together.)

Bring and take: Irish use of these words differs from that of British English because it follows the Gaelic grammar for beir and tóg. English usage is determined by direction; person determines Irish usage. So, in English, one takes "from here to there", and brings it "to here from there". In Irish, a person takes only when accepting a transfer of possession of the object from someone else – and a person brings at all other times, irrespective of direction (to or from).

  • Don't forget to bring your umbrella with you when you leave.
  • (To a child) Hold my hand: I don't want someone to take you.

To be

The Irish equivalent of the verb "to be" has two present tenses, one (the present tense proper or "aimsir láithreach") for cases which are generally true or are true at the time of speaking and the other (the habitual present or "aimsir ghnáthláithreach") for repeated actions. Thus, "you are [now, or generally]" is tá tú, but "you are [repeatedly]" is bíonn tú. Both forms are used with the verbal noun (equivalent to the English present participle) to create compound tenses.

The corresponding usage in English is frequently found in rural areas, especially Mayo/Sligo in the West of Ireland and Wexford in the south-east, along with border areas of the North and Republic. In this form, the verb "to be" in English is similar to its use in Irish, with a "does be/do be" (or "bees", although less frequently) construction to indicate the continuous, or habitual, present:

  • "He does be working every day." Bíonn sé ag obair gach lá.
  • "They do be talking on their mobiles a lot." Bíonn siad ag caint go leor ar a fóin póca.
  • "He does be doing a lot of work at school." Bíonn sé ag déanamh go leor oibre ar scoil.
  • "It's him I do be thinking of." Is air a bhíonn mé ag smaoineamh.

From Old- and Middle-English

In old-fashioned usage, "it is" can be freely abbreviated ’tis, even as a standalone sentence. This also allows the double contraction ’tisn’t, for "it is not".

Irish has separate forms for the second person singular () and the second person plural (sibh). Mirroring Irish, and almost every other Indo European language, the plural you is also distinguished from the singular in Hiberno-English, normally by use of the otherwise archaic English word ye [jiː]; the word yous (sometimes written as youse) also occurs, but primarily only in Dublin and across Ulster. In addition, in some areas in Leinster, north Connacht and parts of Ulster, the hybrid word ye-s, pronounced "yis", may be used. The pronunciation differs with that of the northwestern being [jiːz] and the Leinster pronunciation being [jɪz].

  • "Did ye all go to see it?" Ar imigh sibh go léir chun é a fheicint?
  • "None of youse have a clue!" Níl ciall/leid ar bith agaibh!
  • "Are ye not finished yet?" Nach bhfuil sibh críochnaithe fós?
  • "Yis are after destroying it!" Tá sibh tar éis é a scriosadh!

The word ye, yis or yous, otherwise archaic, is still used in place of "you" for the second-person plural. Ye'r, Yisser or Yousser are the possessive forms, e.g. "Where are yous going?"

The verb mitch is very common in Ireland, indicating being truant from school. This word appears in Shakespeare, but is seldom heard these days in British English, although pockets of usage persist in some areas (notably South Wales, Devon, and Cornwall). In parts of Connacht and Ulster the mitch is often replaced by the verb scheme, while Dublin it is replaced by "on the hop/bounce".

Another usage familiar from Shakespeare is the inclusion of the second person pronoun after the imperative form of a verb, as in "Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed" (Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene IV). This is still common in Ulster: "Get youse your homework done or you're no goin' out!" In Munster, you will still hear children being told, "Up to bed, let ye" [lɛˈtʃi]

For influence from Scotland see Ulster Scots and Ulster English.

Other grammatical influences

Now is often used at the end of sentences or phrases as a semantically empty word, completing an utterance without contributing any apparent meaning. Examples include "Bye now" (= "Goodbye"), "There you go now" (when giving someone something), "Ah now!" (expressing dismay), "Hold on now" (= "wait a minute"), "Now then" as a mild attention-getter, etc. This usage is universal among English dialects, but occurs more frequently in Hiberno-English. It is also used in the manner of the Italian 'prego' or German 'bitte', for example a barman might say "Now, Sir." when delivering drinks.

So is often used for emphasis ("I can speak Irish, so I can"), or it may be tacked on to the end of a sentence to indicate agreement, where "then" would often be used in Standard English ("Bye so", "Let's go so", "That's fine so", "We'll do that so"). The word is also used to contradict a negative statement ("You're not pushing hard enough" – "I am so!"). (This contradiction of a negative is also seen in American English, though not as often as "I am too", or "Yes, I am".) The practice of indicating emphasis with so and including reduplicating the sentence's subject pronoun and auxiliary verb (is, are, have, has, can, etc.) such as in the initial example, is particularly prevalent in more northern dialects such as those of Sligo, Mayo, Cavan, Monaghan and other neighbouring counties.

Sure is often used as a tag word, emphasising the obviousness of the statement, roughly translating as but/and/well. Can be used as "to be sure", the famous Irish stereotype phrase. (But note that the other stereotype of "Sure and …" is not actually used in Ireland.) Or "Sure, I can just go on Wednesday", "I will not, to be sure." "Sure Jaysus [Jesus]" is often used as a very mild expletive to express dismay. The word is also used at the end of sentences (primarily in Munster), for instance "I was only here five minutes ago, sure!" and can express emphasis or indignation.

Sure Sure is an old phrase making a modern comeback within colloquial English. Unlike the above definitions of "sure," "sure sure" conveys a positive connotation for the statement, and is commonly used as a short and quick linguistic mechanism for describing extreme admiration. It means so much more than simply "whatever." In fact, the phrase has been attributed to many prominent figures while discussing epic events. For example, "Tom= Did you see the European girl smile with her eyes? Bob= Yes, I did. It was epic. Tom= Sure sure."

To is often omitted from sentences where it would exist in British English. For example, "I'm not allowed go out tonight", instead of "I'm not allowed to go out tonight".

Will is often used where British English would use "shall" ("Will I make us a cup of tea?"). The distinction between "shall" (for first-person simple future, and second- and third-person emphatic future) and "will" (second- and third-person simple future, first-person emphatic future), maintained by many in England, does not exist in Hiberno-English, with "will" generally used in all cases.

Once is sometimes used in a different way from how it's used in other dialects. An example is, "I've no problem laughing at myself once the joke is funny." Other dialects of English would probably use "if" in this situation.


Hiberno-English retains many phonemic differentiations that have merged in other English accents.

  • With some local exceptions, /r/ occurs postvocally, making most Hiberno-English dialects rhotic.[89] The exceptions to this are most notable in Dublin and some smaller eastern towns like Drogheda. In Dublin English, a retroflex [ɻ] is used (much as in American English). This has no precedent in varieties of southern Irish English and is a genuine innovation of the past two decades. Mainstream varieties still use a non-retroflex [ɹ] (as in word-initial position). A uvular [ʁ] is found in north-east Leinster.[90] /r/ is pronounced as a postalveolar tap [ɾ] in conservative accents. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Jackie Healy-Rae are both good examples of this.
  • /t/ is not pronounced as a plosive where it does not occur word-initially in some Irish accents; instead, it is often pronounced as a slit fricative [θ̠].[89]
  • The distinction between w /w/ and wh /hw/, as in wine vs. whine, is preserved.
  • There is some variation with the consonants that are dental fricatives in other varieties (/θ/ and /ð/); after a vowel, they may be dental fricatives or dental stops ([t̪ʰ] and [d̪] respectively) depending on speaker. Some dialects of Irish have a "slender" (palatalised) d as /ðʲ/ and this may transfer over to English pronunciation. In still others, both dental fricatives are present since slender dental stops are lenited to [θʲ] and [ðʲ].
  • The distinction between /ɒː/ and /oː/ in horse and hoarse is preserved, though not usually in Dublin or Belfast.
  • A distinction between [ɛɹ]-[ɪɹ]-[ʌɹ] in herd-bird-curd may be found.
  • /l/ is never velarised, except in (relatively recent) South Dublin English, often derisively termed D4 English, after the area where the accent predominates.
  • The vowels in words such as boat and cane are usually monophthongs outside Dublin: [boːt], and [keːn].
  • The /aɪ/ in "night" may be pronounced in a wide variety of ways, e.g. [əɪ], [ɔɪ], [ʌɪ] and [ɑɪ], the latter two being the most common in middle class speech, the former two, in popular speech.
  • The /ɔɪ/ in "boy" may be pronounced [ɑːɪ] (i.e. the vowel of thought plus a y) in conservative accents (Henry 1957 for Co. Roscommon, Nally 1973 for Co. Westmeath).
  • In some varieties, speakers make no distinction between the [ʌ] in putt and the [ʊ] in put, pronouncing both as the latter. Bertz (1975) found this merger in working-class Dublin speech, and a fluctuation between merger and distinction in General Dublin English (quoted in Wells 1982). Nevertheless, even for those Irish people who, say, have a different vowel sound in put and cut, pairs such as putt and put, look and luck may be pronounced identically.
  • In some highly conservative varieties, words spelled with ea and pronounced with [iː] in RP are pronounced with [eː], for example meat, beat.
  • In words like took where "oo" usually represents /ʊ/, speakers may use /uː/. This is most common in working-class Dublin accents and the speech of North-East Leinster.
  • Any and many is pronounced to rhyme with nanny, Danny by very many speakers, i.e. with each of these words pronounced with /a/ or /ɛ/.
  • /eɪ/ often becomes /ɛ/ in words such as gave and came (becoming "gev" and "kem")
  • Consonant clusters ending in /j/ often change.
    • /dj/ becomes /dʒ/, e.g. dew/due, duke and duty sound like "jew", "jook" and "jooty".
    • /tj/ becomes /tʃ/, e.g. tube is "choob", tune is "choon"
    • The following show neither dropping nor coalescence:
      • /kj/
      • /hj/
      • /mj/

The naming of the letter H as "haitch" is standard, while the letter R is called "or", the letter A is often pronounced "ah", and the letter Z is often referred to as "e-zed" in working-class Dublin and Belfast accents or parodies of same. Some words gain a syllable in Irish speech, like film, which becomes "fillum".


Dublin has a number of dialects which differ significantly based on class and age group. These are roughly divided into three categories: "local Dublin", or the broad-working class dialect (sometimes referred to as the "working-class", or "inner city" accent); "mainstream Dublin", the typical accent spoken by middle-class or suburban speakers; and "new Dublin", an accent among younger people (born after 1970). Features include:[91]

  • /ɒ/ as in lot has a variety of realisations. In Local, this vowel is often quite front and unrounded, ranging to [a]. In Mainstream, the sound varies between [ɑ] and [ɒ]. New Dublin speakers often realise this phoneme even higher, as [ɔ].
  • /ɔ/ as in thought: In Local and Mainstream accents, this vowel is usually a lengthened variant of the corresponding LOT set (i.e. [aː] in Local and [ɒː] in Mainstream.) In New Dublin accents, this sound can be as high as [oː].
  • /ʌ/ as in strut: in Local Dublin, this sound merges with the sound in foot, so that strut is pronounced [strʊt]. In Mainstream, a slight distinction is made between the two, with the vowel for strut varying greatly from [ʌ] to [ɤ]. In New Dublin this vowel can shift forward, toward [ɪ].
  • /oʊ/ as in goat: in Dublin English, unlike other Hiberno-Englishes, this vowel is almost always diphthongised. Local Dublin features a low inglide, rendering this sound as [ʌo ~ ʌɔ], whereas Mainstream features a tighter diphthong: [oʊ]. New Dublin has a slightly fronter realisation, ranging to [əʊ].
  • /uː/ as in goose. Local Dublin features a unique, palatised realisation of this vowel, [ʲu], so that food sounds quite similar to feud. In Mainstream and New Dublin, this sound ranges to a more central vowel, [ʉ].
  • /aɪ/ as in price: Traditionally this vowel ranges in pronunciation from [əi] in Local Dublin speech to [ai] in Mainstream Dublin. Among speakers born after 1970, the pronunciation [ɑɪ] often occurs before voiced consonants and word-finally.
  • /aʊ/ as in mouth is usually fronted, to [æu] in Mainstream and New Dublin and more typically [ɛu] in Local.
  • /ɔɪ/ as in choice: This sound ranges greatly, from [aɪ] in Local Dublin to a high-back realisation [oɪ] in New Dublin. Mainstream Dublin more typically tends toward [ɒɪ].


Rhoticity and rhotic consonants vary greatly in Dublin English. In Local Dublin, "r" can often be pronounced with an alveolar tap ([ɾ]), whereas Mainstream Dublin has a velarised alveolar approximant [ɹˠ] (which also may be found in Local Dublin) and New Dublin features a retroflex approximant, [ɻ].[92][93]

Post-vocalically, Dublin English maintains three different standards. Local Dublin is often non-rhotic (giving lie to the repeated claim that Hiberno-English is universally rhotic), although some variants may be variably or very lightly rhotic. In non-rhotic varieties, the /ər/ in "lettER" is either lowered to [ɐ(ɹ)] or in some speakers may be backed and raised to [ɤ(ɹ)]. In Mainstream Dublin, this sound is gently rhotic ([əɹ]), while New Dublin features a retroflex approximant [əɻ]. Other rhotic vowels are as follows:

  • /ɑɹ/ as in start: This vowel has a uniquely high realisation in Local Dublin, ranging to [ɛː]. In Mainstream Dublin, this sound is more typically [aːɹ], whereas New Dublin can feature a more back vowel, [ɑːɻ]
  • The "horse-hoarse" distinction in other Irish dialects is heavily preserved in Local Dublin, but only slightly maintained in Mainstream and New varieties. In Local, "force" words are pronounced with a strong diphthong, [ʌo], while "north" words feature a low monophthong, [aː]. Mainstream Dublin contrasts these two vowels slightly, as [ɒːɹ] and [oːɹ], while in New Dublin, these two phonemes are merged to [oːɻ].
  • /ɜɹ/ as in nurse. In local Dublin, this phoneme is split, either pronounced as [ɛː] or [ʊː]. In this accent, words written as "-ur" are always pronounced as [ʊː], while words written as either "-er" or "-ir" are pronounced as [ɛː], unless "-er" or "-ir" follows a labial consonant (e.g. bird or first), when this sound has the [ʊː] realisation. In Mainstream and New Dublin this distinction is seldom preserved, with both phonemes typically merging to [ɚ].

Dublin Vowel Lengthening

In Local Dublin, long monophthongs are often diphthongised, and while some diphthongs are tripthongised. This process can be summarised with these examples:

  • School [skuːl] = [ˈskʲuwəl]
  • Mean [miːn] = [ˈmɪjən]
  • Five [faɪv] = [ˈfəjəv]


  • Final "t" is heavily lenited in Local Dublin English so that "sit" can be pronounced [sɪh], [sɪʔ] or even [sɪ].
  • Intervocalically, "t" can become an alveolar approximant in Local Dublin, e.g. "not only" = [na ɹ ʌonli], while in New and Mainstream varieties it can become an alveolar tap [ɾ], similar to American and Australian English.
  • θ and ð, as in "think" and "this", usually become alveolar stops [t] and [d] in Local Dublin English, while Mainstream and New Dublin maintains the more standard dentalised stops common in other varieties of Hiberno-English.
  • In Local Dublin, stops are often elided after sonorants, so that, for example sound is pronounced [sɛʊn].


Northern Hiberno-English (also called Ulster English) is an umbrella term for the dialects of Hiberno-English spoken by most people in the province of Ulster. The dialect has been influenced by Ulster Irish and also by the Scots language, which was brought over by Scottish settlers during the plantations.

It has two main subdivisions: South Ulster English and Mid Ulster English. South Ulster English is spoken in south Armagh, south Monaghan, south Fermanagh, south Donegal and north Cavan.[94][95][96] Mid Ulster English is used in the area between these (including the main cities of Belfast and Derry) and has the most speakers.

See also




External links

  • Everyday English and Slang in Ireland

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