A real-time study of sound change in inner-city Dublin-English over five decades

Thomson, Clare Louise (2019) A real-time study of sound change in inner-city Dublin-English over five decades. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3348244


The purpose of this study is to identify variation and change in the pronunciation of Dublin’s inner-city dialect over the last fifty years, and if so, whether this involves association with or dissociation from traditional local norms (Hickey, 1999). Dublin’s inner-city has experienced notable demographic changes since the recession of the 1980s, the economic boom of the 1990s and the subsequent influx of migrants to the city, initially from returning Irish emigrants and some British, but later from other European countries (Darmody, 2011). Dublin English is known for characteristic and stable local productions of /ð/, /θ/ and /t/ e.g. water [wɒṱər], thin [tɪn], breathe [bri:d̪] and this [dɪs] (Hickey, 2004). The demographic changes to the inner-city predict the possible introduction of non-local variants for all three variables. The research question for this dissertation is: What evidence is there for sound change in local Dublin English in an area which has shown substantial demographic shifts? Specifically, to what extent is phonetic variation over time for /ð/, /θ/ and /t/ consistent with a shift away from local norms? For example, have the words mother, think and what maintained the local realisations [mʌdr], [tIŋk] and [ʍɒʔ] or, over time has there been a shift towards use of the supralocal or standard Irish English forms [mod̪ər], [t̪ɪŋk] and [ʍɒṱ]? This study analyses the speech of twenty-three recordings from inner-city Dublin school-children in 1961 and seventeen school-children and one adult in 2016 (a total of forty-one speakers). The early recordings were made by the class teacher, but have since been digitised and are well-known as Give Up Yer Aul Sins, which is a quote from one of the children and she narrates a Bible story. The more recent recordings were made by me in 2016, when I returned to the same inner-city school in Dublin to interview children of the same age. The adult speaker, now in her early sixties, was one of the children in the 1961 class, although was not one of the children recorded. Results show that over time there is maintenance of local variants, but all three apparently stable variables show a shift to pan-Irish and even some Standard English variants in the children recorded in 2016. For example, /ð/ and /θ/ show a shift from 1961 to 2016, with fewer local alveolar stops, more supralocal dental stops, and even some Standard English dental fricatives. These results are discussed in the context of the impact of mobility and dialect contact on sound change for this inner-city Dublin community.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Irish English, sound change, Dublin English, inner-city children.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Ms Clare Louise Thomson
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-41175
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2019 08:52
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 16:21
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.41175
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/41175

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