‘I Intend to Try Some Other Part of the Worald’: Evidence of Schwa-Epenthesis in the Historical Letters of Irish Emigrants
To date, Irish English (IrE) lacks a broad, diachronic and empirical investigation of its phonology, simply because the available material has been limited. In the Corpus of Irish English Correspondence (CORIECOR)—a collection of over 6000 texts written between the late 1600s and the early 1900s, most of which are Irish emigrant letters—many non-standard features of IrE phonology can be found. Today, schwa-epenthesis is a well-known feature of IrE, and occurs across the island in e.g. [ˈfɪləm] film and more regionally in clusters such as /rm/ and /rl/, e.g. [ˈfarəm] farm and [ˈgɛrəl] girl. Nevertheless, little evidence of epenthesis in past varieties of IrE has been presented. How common is epenthesis in CORIECOR, and does its phonological distribution differ from present day IrE?
In this paper, I examine spelling variation in CORIECOR that reveals evidence of epenthesis. By systematically and qualitatively assessing phonetic representation in letters written over a period of more than 200 years, I document possible clusters containing epenthesis, the most common words affected by the feature and the regional and diachronic development of this phonological process. This paper shows that epenthesis is well attested in the corpus and is found in a wide range of clusters (e.g. /wn/, /dr/, /ŋr/, /fl/, /rl/, /tr/, /nr/ and /rn/), but to a much lesser extent in clusters where it would be expected today.
KeywordsEpenthesis Irish English The Corpus of Irish English Correspondence CORIECOR Emigrant letters
- Amador-Moreno, Carolina P., and Kevin McCafferty. 2012. Linguistic Identity and the Study of Emigrant Letters: Irish English in the Making. Lengua y migración 4 (2): 25–42.Google Scholar
- Bliss, Alan J. 1979. Spoken English in Ireland 1600–1740. Dublin: Dolmen Press.Google Scholar
- ———. English in the South of Ireland. In Language in the British Isles, ed. Peter Trudgill, 135–151. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
- Dekker, Rudolf. 2002. Jacques Presser’s Heritage: Egodocuments in the Study of History. Memoria y civilización 5: 13–37. http://www.egodocument.net/pdf/2.pdf
- Fairman, Tony. 2007. Writing and ‘the Standard’: England, 1795–1834. Multilingua. Special Issue: Lower Class Language Use in the 19th Century 26 (2–3): 167–201. doi:https://doi.org/10.1515/MULTI.2007.009.
- Fitzpatrick, David. 1994. Oceans of Consolation. Personal Accounts of Migration to Australia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Helbich, Wolfgang, and Walter D. Kamphoefner. 2006. How Representative Are Emigrant Letters? An Exploration of the German Case. In Letters Across Borders: The Epistolary Practices of International Migrants, ed. Bruce S. Elliott, David A. Gerber, and Suzanne M. Sinke, 29–55. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Henry, Patrick L. 1957. An Anglo-Irish Dialect of North Roscommon: Phonology, Accidence, Syntax. Dublin: University College.Google Scholar
- Hickey, Raymond. 2004. A Sound Atlas of Irish English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Labov, William. 2001. Principles of Linguistic Change. Volume 2: Social Factors. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- McCafferty, Kevin, and Carolina P. Amador-Moreno. 2012a. A Corpus of Irish English Correspondence (CORIECOR): A Tool for Studying the History and Evolution of Irish English. In New Perspectives on Irish English, ed. Betina Migge and Máire Ní Chiosáin, 265–288. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- ———. 2012b. ‘I Will Be Expecting a Letter from You Before This Reaches You’: Studying the Evolution of a New-Dialect Using a Corpus of Irish English Correspondence (CORIECOR). In Letter Writing in Late Modern Europe, ed. Marina Dossena and Gabriella del Lungo Camiciotti, 179–204. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McCafferty, Kevin and Carolina P. Amador-Moreno. n.d.. CORIECOR—Corpus of Irish English Correspondence. Bergen and Cáceres: University of Bergen and University of Extremadura. In preparation.Google Scholar
- Melchers, Gunnel, and Philip Shaw. 2003. World Englishes. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
- Montgomery, Michael. 1995. The Linguistic Value of Ulster Emigrant Letters. Ulster Folklife 41: 26–41.Google Scholar
- Nevalainen, Terttu. 1996. Social Stratification. In Sociolinguistics and Language Study: Studies Based on the Corpus of Early English Correspondence, ed. Terttu Nevalainen and Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, 57–76. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
- Schneider, Edgar W. 2002. Variation and Change in Written Documents. In The Handbook of Language Variation and Change, ed. J.K. Chambers, Peter Trudgill, and Natalie Schilling-Estes, 67–96. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
- van der Wal, Marijke, and Gijsbert Rutten. 2013. Ego-Documents in a Historical-Sociolinguistic Perspective. In Touching the Past. Studies in the Historical Sociolinguistics of Ego-Documents, ed. Marijke van der Wal and Gijsbert Rutten, 1–17. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Walshe, Shane. 2009. Irish English as Represented in Film. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar