Irish Traveller Language

An Ethnographic and Folk-Linguistic Exploration

  • Maria Rieder

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Maria Rieder
    Pages 209-245
  3. Maria Rieder
    Pages 247-253
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 255-260

About this book


This book explores the Irish Traveller community through an ethnographic and folk linguistic lens. It sheds new light on Irish Traveller language, commonly referred to as Gammon or Cant, an integral part of the community’s cultural heritage that has long been viewed as a form of secret code. The author addresses Travellers’ metalinguistic and ideological reflections on their language use, providing deep insights into the culture and values of community members, and into their perceived social reality in wider society. In doing so, she demonstrates that its interrelationship with other cultural elements means that the language is in a constant flux, and by analysing speakers’ experiences of language in action, provides a dynamic view of language use. The book takes the reader on a journey through oral history, language naming practices, ideologies of languageness and structure, descriptions of language use and contexts, negotiations of the ‘authentic’ Cant, and Cant as ‘identity’. Based on a two-year ethnographic fieldwork project in a Traveller Training Centre in the West of Ireland, this book will appeal to students and scholars of sociolinguistics, language in society, language ideology, folk linguistics, minority communities and languages, and cultural and linguistic anthropology.


Orality Language ideology Identity Language variation and change Community of practice research Folk Linguistics Ethnography Shelta Cant Gammon Irish Traveller community metacommunication linguistic anthropology minority language language policy

Authors and affiliations

  • Maria Rieder
    • 1
  1. 1.Modern Languages and Applied LinguisticsUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-76713-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-76714-7
  • Buy this book on publisher's site