Masaryk University Faculty of Arts

Department of English and American Studies English Language and Literature

Radoslava Pekarová

The Influence of the Irish language on Irish English Grammar
Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: Mgr. Jan Chovanec, Ph.D.


I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography. ……………………………………………..


Acknowledgement I would like to thank to Mgr. Jan Chovanec, Ph.D. for his guidance and valuable advice.


Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................ 5 1. Historical account: Establishment of English in Ireland ................................ 6 2. Anglo-Irish, Irish English or Hiberno-English? ........................................... 14 3. Controversy about the Irish Influence ..................................................... 18 4. Grammar .............................................................................................. 21 4.1 Irish English Usages of the Definite Article ........................................ 23 4.2 Special Use of Reflexive Pronouns .................................................... 27 4.3 Structures to Denote Tense Aspects in Irish English ........................... 31 4.3.1 Perfective Aspect .................................................................... 31 The Indefinite Anterior Perfect ....................................... 31 The ‘After Perfect’ ......................................................... 33 The ‘Medial-object’ Perfect ............................................. 35 The Be Perfect .............................................................. 39 The Extended-now Perfect ............................................. 41 4.3.2 Present Habitual Aspect ........................................................... 42 4.4 Irish English Use of Prepositons ....................................................... 47 4.4.1 The Preposition on .................................................................. 48 4.4.2 The Preposition in ................................................................... 50 4.4.3 The Preposition with................................................................ 52 4.4.4 The Preposition of ................................................................... 53 Conclusion .............................................................................................. 545 References………………………………………………………………………………………………56


Irish English is said to be the oldest variety of English outside Britain (Hickey, 2007) and between varieties of English has a special position which is confirmed by Siedmund and Pietsch (2008: 87), “Irish English represents one of the most interesting and intriguing language contact situations in the English speaking world. It involves contact between two genetically related, but typologically fairly distant languages – Irish and English…” If we think about other varieties of English, such as American or Australian English, we have to realize that none of them was influenced by any of the native languages of the countries as in the case of Irish English. Nowadays Irish English represents two languages which have been coexisting next two each other for centuries. During this time English of the Irish adopted many features of the natives and this is the area of my interest. The thesis deals with some peculiarities of Irish English namely with those of Irish English grammar which are influenced by the Irish language. However, this is still an extensive area for studies and thus only some of the structures of Irish English grammar were chosen for the purposes of the thesis. The structures chosen have clear parallels in the Irish language which, however, does not imply that their origin is clear as is shown in discussion within the individual sections. The paper begins with a short historical account of a gradual establishing of English in Ireland because it is necessary to realize that although Ireland is seen as an English-speaking country, it lasted for a long time until this became


truth. During this long struggle the structures of English in Ireland were adjusted to the needs of the native inhabitants so that they could express themselves better. The thesis further deals with the neglecting of the influence of Irish on English generally: it was believed a long time that Irish made no impact on English; however, nowadays it turns out being completely untrue. As is shown in the thesis, especially in the chapter dealing with the story of the Irish influence, even some Standard English features have the Irish parallels. Further there is dealt with the terminology referring to Irish English as there exist three different types of terms and the chapter shows a short overview of their usage. The rest of the study discusses the chosen grammatical structures and describes the extent of the Irish influence. The aim of the thesis is to introduce some of the distinctive features of Irish English which one can hardly encounter in everyday life and to emphasize the influence conducted by the Irish language which is clearly reflected in the English language of the inhabitants of Ireland.

1. Historical account: Establishment of English in Ireland
This chapter deals with the history of the English language in Ireland. The establishment of English in Ireland was a long process lasting for centuries. During this time the language became a weapon: it should have helped Britain to gain control over Ireland. However, it was not until the 19th century when English became the dominant language.


Two stages or waves of establishing the English language in Ireland are recognized. The first one is connected with the Norman invasion in 1169 which brought English and Norman French to Ireland. The status of English in Ireland was rather low then because it was spoken mainly by servants of the Normans. The high status was enjoyed by Latin, which was introduced in Ireland since the arrival of religion, and by French (Kallen, 1997). Although the Normans expanded in Ireland, their language declined quite rapidly and they themselves became gaelicised (Filppula, 1999) or hibernicised using Todd’s (1999) terminology. Though English managed to endure longer, gradually it declined as well. Hogan (qtd. in Filppula, 1999) describes the language situation in 14th and 15th centuries as follows:

Irish came down again into the plains and up to the walls of the towns. With the exception of those who carried on the Dublin government, or lived in or near the Pale1, the great Norman families, never having been English, now became thoroughly Irish. The English yeomen and small free holders steadily forsook the land, going to England or the Pale.

The area of the Pale (see Figure 1 below) was important for the survival of English in Ireland. It is the only area in Ireland where English influence was uninterrupted since the Norman invasions and thus the English language could continue to exist in Ireland. However, outside the Pale and especially in rural


The Pale – the term comes from Latin palus ‘stake’, it was established at the time of Henry II’s expedition and consisted of the territories conquered by England, where English settlements and rule were most secure (Encyclopædia Britannica Online)


areas the impact of English was slight. Later even the area of the Pale shrank. The assimilation of the settlers by the native Irish had, according to Hickey (2007), two main reasons, namely that the English settlers were Catholic and the English government adopted Protestantism later; and that the connections with England were still rather loose. There were made various attempts by English rulers “to halt the process of gaelicisation” in Ireland such as the Statutes of Kilkenny (Filppula, 1999: 4) – they imposed “heavy penalties on those who were found using Irish”. However, these and other measures were of no effect.

Figure 1 The area of the Pale (Hickey, 2008)


In the 16th century the Irish language spread even to Dublin. In 1578 Lord Chancellor William Gerrard criticised the use of Irish by the English (Hickey, 2007). Todd (1999: 47) comments it by saying that, “… the Irish had, slowly but surely, assimilated the invaders.” However, this was not allowed to continue. In the 16th century the second wave of English started which is marked by the beginning of the reign of Mary Tudor (1553-1558). The second wave is characteristic of “the organised settlement of the Irish landscape which was to have the greatest consequence in terms of anglicisation” (Hickey, 2007: 35). It was a system for planting English settlers in Ireland in order to anglicise the Irish. The main plantations are those of Munster and Ulster (see Figure 2 below). The numbers of settlers were quite high when we imagine that in 1611 the ratio of the settlers and the Irish in Ulster was three Irish to two Planters (see Table 1 below) and yet further waves of English speakers followed later (Todd, 1999).

Table 1 Estimated numbers of the English settlers in Ireland in individual counties of Ulster in 1611 (Todd, 1999: 48)
County Antrim Armagh Cavan Derry Donegal Down Fermanagh Monaghan Tyrone Total for Ulster Irish 8,965 4,355 8,218 5,306 8,589 8,643 5,302 3,649 10,245 63,272 Planters Total 7,074 16,039 2,393 6,748 6,485 14,703 4,428 9,734 3,412 12,001 6,540 15,183 1,800 7,102 434 4,083 8,085 18,330 40,651 103,923


Figure 2 Areas of English settlements (Encyclopædia Britannica Online.)

“The final blow to the old Irish society”, according to Hogan (qtd. in Filppula, 1999), was done by the Cromwellian Settlement in the 1650s which is


connected with confiscation of land of the natives and their resettlement. The confiscated estates were granted to the English which substantially changed the demography of Ireland. “In all provinces except Connacht [i.e. Connaught in the map above], the landowners were English-speaking Protestants” (Filppula, 1999: 7) an in addition, Bliss (qtd. in Filppula, 1999) states that, “the great houses formed centres where the English language was spoken: tenants and servants alike had to learn some English in order to communicate with their masters.” This situation when the Irish were either forced to the west of the country or to stay and learn the language of their masters deprived of any political rights helped to spread English in Ireland. However, despite all the adopted measures Irish continued to have the dominant position as Ó Cuív (qtd. in Filppula, 1999) states “… in 1731 … some two-thirds of the population still used Irish as their everyday means of communication, while as late as 1791 about half of the population were either monoglot Irish or had Irish as their preferred language.” Although the numbers of speakers of Irish remained relatively, it is obvious that the English language spread slowly but surely throughout Ireland. According to Filppula (1999) it was in the first half of the 19th century when English speakers started gradually to outnumber Irish speakers. In addition, the Great Famine in the 1840s was an important factor in the spread of English: the number of native Irish speakers was reduced approximately by 25%, which was about 2 million people (Hickey, 2007), due to starvation and emigration caused by the Famine. Since then the decline of Irish spread quite


rapidly and by the census of 1891 the number of the Irish speakers dropped to little over half a million (Ó Cuív qtd. in Filppula, 1999). According to the study “Europeans and their Languages” (2006) the present language situation in Ireland is following: 94% of the Irish claim English as their mother tongue and 11% claim Irish as their mother tongue2. As regards the actual use of Irish in Ireland, 40.8% of the Irish claim they are able to speak Irish (according to the Census 2006). In the areas of Gaeltacht3 (see Figure 3) the number of speakers is even higher: 70.8% of the Irish say they speak Irish. Table 2 below provides data about numbers of speakers of the Irish language. The increasing numbers show that the Irish language is still very important for the inhabitants of Ireland.

Table 2 Changes in numbers of Irish speakers since 1926 according to the Census 2006
Year 1926 1936 1946 1961 1971 1981 1986 19914 19964 2002 2006 Irish speakers 540,802 666,601 588,725 716,420 789,429 1,018,413 1,042,701 1,095,830 1,430,205 1,570,894 1,656,790 Non-Irish speakers 2,261,650 2,140,324 2,182,932 1,919,398 1,998,019 2,208,054 2,310,931 2,271,176 2,049,443 2,180,101 2,400,856


The study enabled multiple choice, i.e. it was possible to mark more languages as mother tongues 3 Gaeltachts - areas in Ireland where Irish Gaelic is spoken primarily 4 The substantial increase of the speakers of the Irish language between the years 1991 and 1996 is explained by changed formulation in the Census question (Gaelic: Revitalising Gaelic a National Zaset, 1999)


Figure 3 Areas of Gaeltacht

Co. Donegal

Co. Mayo

Co. Meath Co. Galway

Co. Kerry Co. Waterford Co. Cork

From the historical account stated above it is obvious that the establishment of the English language in Ireland was a long and complicated process – or rather a struggle between two languages that later became a struggle for power. Although English won and is now the main language in Ireland, the result of the struggle was not always sure. The Irish played in the past an important role in lives of the Irish which is reflected in their handling the English language. And as shows Table 2 above Irish is again gaining its prestige which can be in the future again mirrored in the usage of English in Ireland.


2. Anglo-Irish, Irish English or Hiberno-English?
Regarding the terminology used in relation with the English language spoken in Ireland, all three above mentioned terms can be found in the works of linguists. There is much dispute over the terms. This chapter shows various attitudes towards their usage. Some authors use just one of the terms to denote English in Ireland and the others use all of them to indicate different influences made on English. For example, Henry (1977:20) sees three major strands and calls them Anglo-Irish, which is “a characteristically rural variety compounded of Irish and English or English and Scots”; Hiberno-English, which is defined by him as


more urban,





tending towards

international or so-called Standard English. This derives ultimately from British settlers in Ireland and its germinal period was the seventeenth century.

Finally Ulster Scots being from the same period as Hiberno-English. On the other hand, Todd (1999) distinguishes two main traditions, namely Planter English and Hiberno-English and further she divides Planter English into two varieties – Anglo-Irish and Ulster Scots. Her division generally corresponds with Henry’s one.


Traditions of English in Ireland according to Todd:

Planter English



Ulster Scots

However, concerning the usage of the terms, she defines them almost the other way round. Anglo-Irish is defined by Todd (1999: 57) as,

a variety of English that is spoken over most of Ireland. It is descended from the English brought to Ireland by planters from England, modified by contacts with Irish, Ulster Scots and Hiberno-English.

Hiberno-English, Todd (1999:71) explains,

is a range of English spoken by people whose ancestral mother tongue was Irish. It is strongest in the vicinity of the Gaeltachts, in rural areas and in parts of the country such as Sperrin Mountains in Tyrone, where pockets of Gaelic speakers survived until the 1960s.

The third group - Ulster Scots – is defined as, “a variety of Scottish English spoken mainly in parts of Antrim, Donegal and Down. Its influence can be found as far as south Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh.” (Todd, 1999: 59) In addition, throughout her work she uses the term ‘Irish English’ to refer to


English spoken in Ireland in general. This approach, however, is completely denied in an interview with Dolan:

The term Irish English is misnomer, because it works on the principle that ‘Irish English’ is similar to Australian English, American English or Canadian English, which it isn’t. English was transported to these countries, but didn’t mix with the native languages. In Ireland, HibernoEnglish means that you have two languages in kind of unruly shotgun marriage together, fighting all the time over the centuries, for syntax, pronunciation, vocabulary, idiom. (Amador-Moreno, 2007)

For Dolan there is the only one correct term and thus Hiberno-English. On the contrary, there are studies by Raymond Hickey in which he uses the term Irish English to refer to English in Ireland and offers his own explanations for the terms mentioned above. Hickey (2005) identifies three terms, namely AngloIrish, Hiberno-English and Irish English and for him it is Hiberno-English that should not be used:

Hiberno-English is a learned term which is derived from the Latin term

Hibernia ‘Ireland’. The term enjoyed a certain currency in the 1970s and
1980s, but in the 1990s, many authors ceased to employ it, as it contributes nothing in semantic terms and is unnecessarily obscure, often requiring explanation to a non-Irish audience or readership. (20)


But he admits that some authors, “such as Dolan and Filppula, continue to employ the term” (20). He claims Anglo-Irish is:

… an established term in literature to refer to works written in English by authors born in Ireland. It is also found in politics to refer to relations between England and Ireland. The difficulty with the term is its occurrence in these spheres and the fact that, strictly speaking, it implies an English variety of Irish and not vice versa. It should be mentioned that within the context of other varieties – Canadian English, for instance – the term is still used to refer to English in Ireland (Kirwin 1993). (20)

Filppula (1999) also refuses the term Anglo-Irish with a similar argument to Hickey’s one stating that this term is especially connected with “English literature written by Irish people” (34) and claims that, “In recent linguistic and dialectological studies … the term ‘Anglo-Irish’ is not so common…” (34). Hickey (2005) advocates the use of ‘Irish English’ as, “the simplest and most convenient term. It has the advantage that it is parallel to the designations for other varieties, e.g., American, Australian, Welsh English, and can be further differentiated where necessary” (20). Filppula (1999: 34) explains that the

term Irish English “has been gaining ground in the most recent research… An alleged advantage of this term over Anglo-Irish and Hiberno-English is its neutrality.” From the discussion above it is obvious that it is difficult to draw a conclusion which would offer a right term referring to English in Ireland. To


sum up, the term Anglo-Irish is now seen as obsolete and thus one can choose between two expressions – Irish English or Hiberno-English.

3. Controversy about the Irish Influence
This chapter discusses different approaches to the Irish influence on English. The extent of the influence was seen as minor for a long time. Todd (1999: 32) says, “… the claims by generations of writers on the history of the English language that ‘outside of placenames… the influence of Celtic upon the English language is almost negligible’ (Baugh, 1959: 85) or that the Celtic languages gave no more than ‘a dozen words to English (Wakelin, 1972: 126).” Filppula et al. (2008: 13) calls this a Germanist view,

Anglo-Saxon intruders drove out or exterminated the native British and Romano-British population… As a consequence of this massive ‘ethnic cleansing’, it was believed, the English people are of virtually pure Germanic extraction…

Todd finds an explanation for the overlooking of the Irish influence, “Many writers have acknowledged the existence of a ‘few’ Celtic words, but, interestingly, the individual words in that ‘few’ tend to vary from scholar” (Todd, 1999: 34). In addition, she emphasizes the importance of the phenomenon known as ‘multiple etymologies’5 as a significant reason for this

Multiple etymologies: similar form occurs in more than one of the languages in contact and enhances the likelihood of its selection by all the speakers. (Todd, 1999: 34)



behaviour of linguists. To illustrate her claims about overlooking of the Irish origin of some English words she chooses such a fundamental part of the English language as is a third person feminine pronoun she. In the Oxford English Dictionary a reader learns that the origin of she is “of difficult etymology” ( and further there is explained that the third person feminine personal pronoun is derived from the combination of an Old English demonstrative pronoun and an Old Norse demonstrative pronoun that was often used in Old Norse as a personal pronoun. On the other hand, Todd (1999) gives us another explanation: she implies that the possible origin of the English third person feminine pronoun she may be derived from the Irish third person feminine pronoun sí meaning she that even was and is pronounced in the same way as the present-day she. In the table below (Table 3) shows Old English personal pronouns together with their present forms. On the base of this table Todd claims that, “The change from he(o) to ‘she’ is much less easy to account for.” (33) Especially when it is compared with a simple change from Old Celtic sí ’to the English spelling preserving the pronunciation.

Table 3 Comparison of the Old English personal pronouns with their presentday forms Case Male Female he(o) = she hie = her hi(e)re = to her hi(e)re = her Neuter hit = it hit = it him = to it his = its Plural hie = they hie = they him = to them hiera = their

Nominative he = he Accusative hine = him Dative Genitive him = to him his = his


Regarding the spread of this etymology from Ireland to England, Todd (1999) gives a satisfactory explanation, “Irish clerics and scribes were to be found in many communities in England and we do not even have to discount that the Scandinavians were partly responsible for the dissemination of ‘she’ because:

… the early Scandinavian settlements (ninth century and earlier) in this country were mainly Danish and were on the Eastern side of England. Norwegian settlements occurring somewhat later (mainly in the first half of the tenth century by men who had been living in Ireland) were in the northwestern counties and the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire. (M. Wakelin, English dialects: An Introduction, 1972: 18, bold Loreto Todd)

An evidence of a gradual assimilation of the old Britons with the Anglo-Saxons is Härke’s (qtd. in Filppula et al. 2008: 16) argument in which he describes some archeological findings,

… by the seventh century, men buried with weapons (i.e. Anglo-Saxons) had the same stature averages as those without (i.e. the Britons), whereas earlier skeletal data indicate a clear separation of the two groups.


The evidence of the Celtic survival in Britain can be found in Sykes’s study (2006, qtd. in Filppula et al. 2008) based on the research of mithocondrial DNA and patrilinear Y-chromosome,

Overall, the genetic structure of the Isles is stubbornly Celtic, if by that we mean descent from people who were here before the Romans and who spoke a Celtic language… we may feel about ourselves and about each other, we are genetically rooted in a Celtic past. The, Irish, the Welsh and the Scots know this, but the English sometimes think otherwise. (18)

Consequently one can conclude that besides Todd’s claims about the spread of the Celtic ‘sí’ by the Irish clerics and scribes, it could be well possible that the Anglo-Saxons adopted some other Celtic words as the ‘tribes’ coexisted next to each other.

4. Grammar
The previous chapter discusses the neglect of the Irish influence and provides evidence that such attitude toward Irish was wrong. This and following sections introduce and examine some of the peculiarities of Irish English grammar which are either influenced by Irish or are of Irish origin. Todd (1999) explains why some of the features of the Irish languagel were adopted by Irish English. The process that produced Irish English is called


relexification6 – when the Irish started to use English as a means of communication with the English, they learned the English vocabulary but preserved the grammatical structures of their mother tongue. In the following chapters is shown that the Irish just exchanged Irish vocabulary for English in many case and preserved the grammatical patterns of their original language. Todd (1999) gives an clarification for such a process saying that

Relexification is widespread process in communities where one group of people tries to learn the language of another under conditions of pressure or segregation. By this process, the Irish produced a form of English that reflected Irish influence at every linguistic level from the sound patterns and the rhythms, to the vocabulary, the idioms and the sentence structure. (76)

Another example of the preference of the Irish sentence structures can be seen in the sentences below. Todd (1999) explains that, “Contemporary linguists would say that Gaelic speakers prefer ‘nominal’ to ‘verbal’ structures.” (92)




Give me the full of it. Put ears on you. He got his death.

Tabhair domh an lán de. Fill it. Cuir cluasa ort. Fuair sé bás. Listen attentatively. He died.

Relexification - The process of replacing a word or group of words in one language with a corresponding word or group of words from another language, without grammatical adjustment of the items introduced. (Oxford English dictionary)


The following sections demonstrate the influence of the Irish language on some of the features of Irish English grammar which are incorrect in StE but well-established in Irish English speech.

4.1 Irish English Usages of the Definite Article
This chapter discusses the Irish influence on Irish English choice of a determiner – namely of the definite article the. The definite article is overused in Irish English and its usage in Irish English reflects the Irish usage in many cases. Hickey (2005: 153-154) explains that in Irish there is only one article, namely the definite one. However, this has much broader usage in Irish than in English. Both Filppula (1999) and Hickey (2007) identify several categories where the definite article is overused in comparison with the standard form. Though both authors mention mostly similar group, the categories listed below are drawn from Filppula (1999) who distinguishes more nuances in the nonstandard usages than Hickey (2007). The following are the groups identified by Filppula (1999) where there is a clear substratal7 influence:

a) plural count nouns with generic reference

You’d need the wellies when crossing them fields. (Hickey, 2007: 251)


Substratum vs. superstratum influence: A substratum influence is one derived from a dominated language [i.e. from Irish in this case], a superstratum from a dominant language [i.e. from English in this case]; Substratum languages can affect all features of grammar, whereas superstratum languages tend to affect vocabulary only. (Oxford English Dictionary)


b) non-count abstract nouns and concrete mass nouns

Do you like sugar in the tea? (Hickey, 2007: 251)

c) quantifying expressions involving most, both, and all

Well, you see, the both of them have to work to do the mortgage like. (Hickey,
2007: 252)

d) the numerals one and two, when used as predeterminers or on their own acquiring the meanings ‘same’ and ‘both’, respectively

But the two parishes were the one, one time. Mullagh and Milltown were the one parish. (Filppula, 1999: 58)

e) names of languages and branches of learning

If you go out in the world the Irish, is no good to you. (Hickey, 2007: 251)

f) physical sensations or states , names of diseases and ailments

God, I’m parched with the thirst. (Hickey, 2007: 251) I had a bout of the flu the past few weeks. (Hickey, 2007: 252)

g) names of social and ‘domestic’ institutions

The husband said, she was getting out of the bed that night. (Hickey, 2007:


h) names of geographical areas and localities, monuments, and streets

… you would get people that’d give you a good deal of the lowdown of the County Wicklow. (Filppula, 1999: 60)

i) expressions involving reference to body parts or items of clothing

There’s nothing done by the hand. (Hickey, 2007: 251)

j) terms for members of the family

Go in not to see the mother. (Hickey, 2007: 252)

k) terms for parts of the day, week, or year, names of festive days or seasons

And then they could be up late in the night playing music. (Hickey, 2007: 252) Well, how did the Christmas go for you? (Hickey, 2007: 252)

l) expressions involving –ing form of verbs, used to refer to trades and professional or general activities

But America = is a better country in that line of the labouring… (Filppula, 1999:

m) names of persons when qualified by a title

There was a couple of houses there, Mr. Geoghegan, a stevedore lived and then after that, there was the Mr. Oaks lived in this house […] (Filppula, 1999:


n) reference to means of transport

They’ll come out there on the bus to where I’m telling you, down the road.
(Filppula, 1999: 63)

o) sentences containing nouns with a strong emotional colour

That’s the grand morning! (Filppula et al. 2008: 170)

In the groups e), f), g) and h) can be observed some inconsistency in the usage of the definite article (Filppula, 1999), though Hickey (2007) does not mention any. Some of the above mentioned features of non-standard usages of the definite articles can be found also in other varieties of English (Filppula, 1999). However, all the features above have their parallels in the Irish language. Filppula (1999: 66) draws the Irish categories of the usage of the definite article from New Irish Grammar by the Christian Brothers (1976: 6-8):

a) phrases referring to rates, prices, etc. in a distributive sense, e.g. uair sa

bhliain’ once a year (cf. the HE example twice the week);
b) certain surnames used on their own without the Christian name; c) titles; d) place-names, including names of counties; e) names of the seasons; f) days of the week; g) names of certain month and feasts;


h) names of languages used ‘in a wide or general sense’; i) abstract nouns, again used in a wide or general sense; j) names of certain illnesses

Filppula (1999) gives also examples of the usages of the definite articles from the Irish language that correspond with the usages of them in Irish English. Among them there are abstract nouns “formed from the corresponding agent nouns by adding the suffix – (e) acht, e.g. sclábhaí ‘labourer’ sclábhaíocht

‘labouring’...” (examples are drawn from Ó Siadhail, 1980, qtd. in Filppula, 1999: 66) as it is in the category l); further use of the article to express “…certain emotions such as surprise, joy, pathos, fright,…” (Filppula, 1999: 66 – 67). The latter mentioned category corresponds with the section o).

4.2 Special Use of Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexives pronouns are used in an object position in StE. In Irish English reflexive pronouns can also stand in a subject position. Such reflexives are called by linguists dealing with the topic ‘unbound reflexives’ (UBRs) (Hickey 2002, 2007, Filppula 1999, Fritz 2006). Filppula (1999: 80) explains the usage of the term ‘unbound’, “they [UBRs] are not locally bound by antecedent.” UBRs are a well-known phenomenon of Irish English (Hickey 2007) and it is another example of the preservation of the Irish forms in grammar. The UBRs have a stable and firm position in IrE which is supported by Fritz’s (2006) findings. He explains that this feature of IrE managed to survive the Irish emigration to


Australia and in addition with almost the same frequencies of usages as occurs in Ireland.

Was it himself that come? (Todd, 1999: 93)

Regarding (2008:350),









absolute reflexive like himself is sometimes described as a polite form of reference to the ‘man of the house’ … there appear to be other functions, too … an absolute reflexive is often used with reference to that person or those persons who constitute the ‘topic’ of the conversation in some way or another”,

as it is in the example below.

… when Cromwell came over here… he was s’posed to say, he’d drive the Irish to hell or Connacht … The Irish used to say … the Irish went to Connacht and left hell for himself. (Filppula, 2008: 349)

As regards the origin of this usage, it can be argued that it can be found already in earlier English (e.g. Shakespeare used unbound reflexives in some his plays(Hickey, 2007)) which means the possibility of the English superstratum influence. This is, for example, recognized by Filppula (1999), Hickey (2007), Odlin (1997), who are ready to clarify the case. Odlin (1997: 41-


42) says that, “Although superstrate influence in some reflexive structures cannot be ruled out, it is an implausible explanation in a number of cases…” Odlin (1997: 44-45) adds further evidence for substrate influence in reflexives, namely • their occurrence in focus position (And it’s himself that told me that up in a

pub… (Odlin, 1997: 39)) and as independent subjects (I don’t remember himself. (Odlin, 1997: 41));
• their presence in some constructions which seem to be made by a nonnative English speaker (And it [fish] could fry himself. (Odlin, 1997: 42)); • the structures of certain Irish English sentences are similar to their Irish equivalents

Irish: “Seall sios,”

ars esan, “co leis siod.”

Chaidh a fear ad sios went the man down

“look down”

said he “who with-him there”

‘s sheall e. and looked he

“Tha,” ars esan, “Are” said he

“leibh péin”. “with you-self” (Odlin, 1997: 42)

“Look down,” he said, “and see whose they are.” The man went and looked. “It’s yours,” he said. (Odlin, 1997: 42) “Go down and have a look whose cask is that that throw the hinges. This man who went down, “It belongs to yourself,” he says. (Odlin, 1997: 42)


the tendency of reflexives to occur as the first conjoin in co-ordinate noun phrases.

Himself and his brother N. was going with the ---- cattle… (Odlin, 1997:43)

Another evidence for the substratal influence is the distribution of the feature across Ireland: the UBRs are most frequent in the western parts (Filppula 1999: 81) of Ireland where there is the strongest and continuous influence of the Irish language. Although Odlin (1997) together with Filppula (1999) provide us with sufficient amount of evidences that prove the Irish origin, Filppula (1999) points out the presence of UBRs in Early Modern English on the basis of the Helsinki Corpus8 and states 65 occurrences of UBRs found in the corpus. Filppula (1999) draws the conclusion that this feature reflects both – the superstratal and substratal influence. On the contrary, Odlin (1997) argues that superstratal influence does not offer satisfactory explanations of some structures such as focus position of reflexives and adds that, “In every case except … [the second point mentioned above] there are structural parallels in Irish and Scottish Gaelic and in … [the second point mentioned above] a paradigmatic gap in Gaelic seems to account for the unusual reflexive construction” (45). And indeed, Filppula et al. (2008) admits that there were no occurrence of UBRs in focus position in earlier English in Helsinki corpus.

Helsinki Corpus – the part dealing with Early Modern English covers the period and contains over 550,000 words


From the discussion stated above one can conclude that the Irish language played a significant role in establishing of the UBRs in Irish English and the possible superstratal influence on the feature was minimal.

4.3 Structures to Denote Tense Aspects in Irish English 4.3.1 Perfective Aspect
One can distinguish more nuances when denoting perfective aspect in Irish English than in StE. Filppula (2008) distinguishes 5 other types of Irish English perfects which existence could be well explained by the Irish influence. The following sections discuss the extent of the role of the Irish language in the formation of the different types of perfective aspects. The Indefinite Anterior Perfect
Regarding its meaning Filppula (2008: 330) explains that the indefinite anterior perfect “denotes events or states of affairs which take place at an unspecified point in a period leading up to the moment of utterance.”

Were you ever in Kenmare? (Filppula, 2008: 330)

Parallel uses of the indefinite anterior perfect [IAP] can be found in both languages – in English as well as in Irish. In addition, according to Visser (qtd. in Filppula, 1999: 96) the present-day perfect ‘have + past participle’ 31

construction was not established until after Shakespeare’s time and the cases of usage of the preterite form can be found in Old and Middle English. However, on the other hand, Filppula (1999: 97) argues, that, “If the IAP has wellestablished roots in the superstratum, as seems to be the case on the basis of the literature, it could be assumed to feature quite prominently in present-day dialectal varieties.” On the basis of his research, Filppula (1999: 97) points out that although this phenomenon is not “uncommon in the conservative dialects”, it is not “pervasive” especially in the comparison with number of occurrences in Irish English. On the other hand, Ó Sé (qtd. in Filppula, 1999: 97) explains that the Irish preterite is normally used with reference to ‘experiences in indefinite past time’, i.e. to indefinite anterior events/ states, including also expressions with

riamh ‘(n)ever’ which corresponds with the meaning of the IAP.
Irish has no equivalent of the English have perfect, which helps to explain the HE use of the preterite for perfect aspect. Also the existence of the feature in Hebridean English9 and the number of occurrences of the IAP in IrE favouring the non-standard form (Filppula, 1999: 95) support the substratal influence. However, superstratal influence cannot be excluded

… because of the viability of the superstratal parallel in EModE and even later stages, and in the absence of qualitative features unique to HE, it seems hard to argue for anything more than reinforcing influence on the HE IAP from the direction of the Irish substratum … (Filppula, 1999: 98)


Hebridean English – a variety of English in Scotland strongly influenced by Gaelic


To sum up, the arguments for the superstratal influence provide information about the existence of the pattern in earlier English. However, on the other hand, the influence of the Irish language is supported by the corresponding parallels in the Irish language, by the existence of the similar feature in Hebridean English and by the high frequencies of usage in presentday Irish English. And thus it is obvious that the Irish influence on the feature was substantial, at least by reinforcing the existence and preservation of the feature. The ‘After perfect’
The second type, the after perfect (AFP), is a well-known feature of Irish English and can be found in many studies dealing with grammatical peculiarities of Irish English (e.g. Todd, 1999; Hickey, 2005, 2007; Filppula, 1997, 1999, 2008; Odlin, 1991, etc.). This type is considered “the most stereotypical” (Filppula, 2008: 331) one. Its form consists of be + after + V-ing. Filppula (1999: 99) explains that,

… AFP refers to an event or activity which has taken place in the more or less recent past but the effects of which persist some way or other into the present moment or … into a secondary point of time orientation in the past, which makes them equivalent to StE past perfects.

You’re after ruinin’ me. (Filppula, 2008: 330)


This feature is also confirmed by Odlin (1991: 563), “The closest equivalent in Standard English to after-constructions is the use of present perfect and past perfect construction. The AFP referring to the recent past is also called ‘hot news perfect’ by Harris (qtd. In Filppula, 1999: 99) which is a term that “emphasises the aspect of immediate recentness of the event or activity.” Hickey (2008: 197) adds that, “In contemporary Irish English it only has past reference, though it can occur in the future perfect on occasions.” Although in the present-day speech this construction is quite rare, it is still one of the best-known grammatical features of Irish English. As to the origin, there exist a parallel in Irish, “…way to express ‘hot news’ in Irish is to use tar éis [tréis] or some other lexical equivalent of after plus a ‘verbal noun’” Odlin (1991: 563).

Tá sé tréis imeacht.
(lit. ‘He’s after going’)

‘He has just gone.’ (Filppula, 1999: 101)

Filppula (1999: 106) is also sure about the origin of the AFP not only because of the “Irish parallel” but also because on the basis of his research there are no plausible parallels in earlier English. This is supported, according to him, by the presence of a parallel construction in Hebridean English. Another opinion is offered by McCafferty (2002) who implies that StE could have helped to establish this construction in Irish English. One can “find


after V-ing used in non-finite adverbial clauses in which there is very often a
strong implication of a relationship of recency or immediacy between the adverbial and finite clauses” in some varieties of StE (13). McCafferty (2002: 14) explains,

It is possible that, as Gaelic speakers adopted English, such non-finite clauses were reanalyzed, making them available for finite use, as in I’m

after hearing about Mcgann on news. Native speakers of such a heavily
nominal language as Gaelic might be predisposed to do so, and their search for categorial equivalence in their newly-acquired second language would certainly be encouraged by the overlapping uses of the English present participle and the Gaelic verbal noun.

To conclude, the origin of this structure is quite obvious, although the possible superstratal influence cannot be excluded completely. The ‘Medial-object’ Perfect
The third type, or using Filppula’s (2008) terminology the medial-object perfect (for its characteristic word order), “focuses on the result, or resulting state, of an action rather the action itself; verbs used in this way are typically dynamic and transitive… occasional instances of other types also occur especially in the conservative rural varieties, such as the verb of ‘inert perception’ or ‘intellectual activity’…” (Filppula, 2008: 330).


I have it forgot. (Filppula, 2008: 330)

This perfect is also known as “resultative perfect”, “stative perfect” or “perfect of result” (qtd. in Filppula, 1999: 108). In tables below there are shown frequencies of uses of the MOP in the areas of Ireland. Table 4 shows that this feature of Irish English is more frequent in the western parts of Ireland and the ratio of occurrence of MOP in comparison with the standard form. And again - the standard form is gradually more frequent throughout the area of Ireland in the east parts and as regards MOP it is vice versa. The higher frequency of occurrence of MOP in the western parts supports substratal origin of the feature.

Table 4 Filppula (1999: 110) – frequencies of the MOP compared to those of the ‘standard’ have perfects in the HE corpus
Area Clare Kerry Wicklow Dublin HE total MOP 14 15 8 3 40 Have perfect 13 24 41 25 103 % MOP 51.9 38.5 16.3 10.7 28.0

To clarify the origin of the structure I start with the set of properties of MOP according to Harris (qtd. in Heine and Kuteva, 2006: 176): a) It only occurs in transitive sentences. b) The participle is placed after the direct object


c) It is only used with dynamic verbs (do, write, spend, etc.), not with stative verbs (know, recognize, resemble) d) It resembles the possessive ‘have’-construction and is best analyzed as a complex construction consisting of a main verb have-clause and a subjoined clause containing a participle, i.e. something along the lines of [I have [my dinner eaten]]. e) Rather than a perfect (anterior), it appears to be essentially a resultative construction, focusing on the state rather than a past event that gives rise to a present state. Accordingly, adverbials which focus on an anterior event are excluded. f) The scope of negation can be either the whole construction or the subjoined clause alone.

Heine and Kuteva (2006: 176) explain that it is in a sharp contrast with StE while “the Irish English possessive perfect agrees with the corresponding construction of Modern Irish in all the major properties listed” above. Regarding the origin of the structure, Hickey (2007: 211) completely denies any possibility of the superstratal influence saying that, “… input varieties of English after the fifteenth century were unlikely to show O + PP [object + past participle] word order and hence unlikely to have provided a model for speakers of Irish shifting to English.” Further he explains that,

… the past participle in Irish always follows the object with transitive verb. A word order which placed this before the object would have had


to be explicitly learned by individuals shifting to English, and equally many of the Irish would have retained the word order of their native language.” (211)

However, according to other studies, such as Heine and Kuteva (2006), this structure can be already found in early English, and thus there is again the question of whether this structure is a result of retention of early English or of a substratal influence. Harris (qtd. in Heine and Kuteva, 2006: 176) argues that features similar to the ones listed above for Irish English are well attested in earlier forms of British English, hence, that the Irish English construction reflects an earlier state found in the history of British English, more precisely, that it is a retention of the older English split perfect10. Filppula (1999) also admits that this construction is present in early English; however, on the basis of his research, Filppula (1999) claims that this construction became gradually so rare in English that in the time of the formation of Irish English the retention from early English could not have had any impact on the process (see Table 5 showing gradual decrease of frequencies of the pattern in earlier Englishes). This idea can be supported by Pietsch (2009) saying that, “… it [language contact with Irish] seems to have happened at a relatively late date during the development of Hiberno-English, surfacing in the written record only about the mid-19th century” (37).
The modern English perfect is generally agreed to derive historically from an older transitive ‘split’ perfect which consists of ‘have’ form and an EN-participle placed after the object noun phrase. This construction is often interpreted as referring to a state of completion (‘I had him in a state of being bound’). The ‘have’ of this older perfect is usually assumed to be a full lexical verb denoting possession and the participle to be a complement of the object noun phrase (Harris, qtd. in Heine and Kuneva, 2006)


Table no. 5 Frequencies of perfects with mid-position object in the Helsinki Corpus (Filppula, 1999: 113)
Period OE III ME I ME II ME III ME IV EModE I EModE II EModE III N 68 56 56 53 21 4 2 2 N/ 10,000 2.7 5.0 5.7 2.9 1.0 0.2 0.1 0.1

The discussion in the chapter shows that the MOP is a feature of Irish English which was strongly influenced by the Irish language. This is proved by the evidence of the substratal parallel as well as by the fact that although there existed similar pattern in earlier English, it disappeared from StE before it could exercise any influence on the Irish English pattern. The Be Perfect
As regards its usage, it is “the intransitive counterpart of the resultative medial-object perfect described above, and is used with verbs of motion or change such as go, change, leave or die” (Filppula, 2008: 330).

I think the younger generations are gone idle over it. (Filppula, 2008: 330)


The meaning of the ‘be perfect’ (BEP), is one “which resembles that of MOP: the focus is clearly on the end-point or result of some prior activity or event” (Filppula, 1999: 117). In the structure are preferred verbs with dynamic meaning. Regarding its origin, according to several studies (Hickey 2007, Filppula 1999, and others) it is clearly of early English origin which is supported, according to Filppula (1999: 118) “by the fact that it is not at all hard to find occurrences in EModE usage.” Filppula et al. (2008) explains that such construction when ‘be’ is used instead of ‘have’ in perfective aspect is an old Germanic feature and English is from the Germanic language group.

However, the pervasiveness of the be perfect in especially earlier IrE texts, coupled with the existence of a direct Irish parallel, has led some researches to suggest that the IrE usages are based, or have at least been influenced, by the Irish construction. (Filppula et al., 2008: 186)

Some authors, such as Kallen (qtd. In Filppula et al., 2008) and Filppula (1999), also note the more frequent usage of this construction in IrE than in other varieties of English. According to Filppula’s (1999) data from his HE corpus the occurrences of this construction are more common in the rural areas. On this basis the reinforcing substratal influence, at least in the sphere of the preservation of the construction in Ireland, has to be admitted.

40 The Extended-now Perfect
The extended-now perfect is the last type of the Irish English perfects. It “refers to events or states initiated in the past but continuing at the moment of utterance” (Filppula, 2008: 330).

I’m not in this [caravan] long… (Filppula, 2008: 330)

Filppula (1999) explains that although it has the form of present tense, it expresses present perfect tense. Filppula (1999: 123) describes features of ENP,

a) reference to a state, event or activity which has been initiated in the past and which leads up to the moment of utterance (or to some other point of time-orientation in the past in those cases where the past tense is used); b) obligatory presence of a time adverbial expressing duration…; c) use of the present or past tense, including the corresponding progressive and passive forms…

As to the origin of this form of the perfect, there exist parallels in Irish as well as in EModE and thus there is a dispute over its origin. Some researches such as Harris (qtd. in Filppula 1999: 124-125) advocate superstratal origin admitting only reinforcing influences of Irish. Although Filppula (1999) admits the possibility of some superstratal influence, for him it is only a marginal phenomenon in EModE, and fully supports the idea of the Irish origin claiming


that the Irish parallel has “similar semantic and formal characteristics” (125). Further he argues for the Irish origin by referring to the regional distribution of this feature. The occurrences of the pattern are more frequent “in the areas adjoining the Gaeltachtaí than in the east…” (Filppula 1999: 128). Filppula (1999: 128) adds that the Irish origin supports one more thing, namely “the clear parallel in another Celtic-influenced [Hebridean English] variety of English.”

4.3.2 Present Habitual Aspect
Habitual aspect refers to “an action which occurs repeatedly” (Hickey, 2007: 213) whether in the past or present time. This chapter deals with the present habitual aspect and with the means it can be expressed by in Irish English. Hickey (2007: 213) divides present habitual aspect into a durative habitual, that “characterises a repeated action and which typically lasts for a certain length of time” (Dahl 1985: 95-102 qtd. in Hickey 2007), and an iterative habitual that “stresses the action”. In StE the habitual aspect can be expressed by means of the present tense forms – simple present for iterative and continuous present for durative - that are often accompanied by adverbs such as always, often, frequently, etc. (Hickey, 2007: 213). Besides standard forms, Irish English can express the present habitual aspect by other means. According to Hickey (2005: 28, 2007: 214-232) these are:


a) the “suffixal –s on lexical verb stems” expressing the iterative habitual; occurs in southern Ireland

I gets all mixed up with the buttons on the recorder. (Hickey 2007: 214-215)
b) do (es) be expressing the durative habitual; occurs in southern Ireland

She does be reading books. (Hickey, 2005: 28)
c) be (es) expressing the durative habitual; occurs in northern Ireland They bees up late at night. (Hickey, 2005: 28)

As regards the origin of the specific features of the habitual aspect in Irish English, the chapter only deals with the last two types because of the lack of information concerning the first type: as far as I am aware of, the first type of the habitual is only mentioned by Hickey (2005, 2007) who, in addition, does not offer any explanation of its origin. Concerning the second type, Hickey (2007) discusses both possibilities of origin – superstratal and substratal. As argument for superstratal origin he states the text by John Michelburne called Ireland Preserved, or the Siege of

Londonderry (1705). The habitual in the text is expressed by two different
forms, namely by the form do + lexical verb which occurs also in the southwest England, and by do be + infinitive form. Hickey (2007) claims that the second form could be “intermediary” between the habitual do + lexical verb and the present-day Irish English form of the habitual does be + V-ing. He further explains,


The implication of instances such as a) above is that do + lexical verb had habitual uses in Early Modern Irish English. If this interpretation is correct, then the source of this do + lexical verb habitual would have been south-western British input to the east of Ireland which then spread to the rest of the country.” (220)

As for the be (es) habitual, Hickey (2007) sees the main problem in the fact that there are scarcely any written records of this form before the middle of the 19th century and may be possibly derived from the do (es) be habitual “which had become established in other varieties of Irish English prior to this” (Hickey, 2007: 226). Hickey also mentions that some studies state the possible Scots origin rather than Irish. This favours the fact that the feature occurs in the north of Ireland and Scots could have worked as an element “that continues a distinction from old English between generic wesan and habitual beon” (McCafferty 2007, qtd. in Hickey 2007: 227). On the other hand, there is not enough written evidence for such claims and in addition, this statement can also contradict the existence of the feature (although rare) also in the south of Ireland (Hickey, 2007: 231). Filppula et al. (2008: 190) supports the substratal origin of both types –

do (es) be and be (es) – when stating that there exist Irish parallels. For be (es) “the plausible source is the ‘consuetudinal’ (i.e. habitual) present of the
early Modern Irish ‘substantive’ verb ‘be’, the 3rd person singular forms of which were bídh… and bí … ” (2008: 190). He also adds that the existence of the special form in the habitual aspect in the Irish language


can be used to explain why the Irish learners of English should have carried over this feature into their English; the adoption of be/bees/be’s as a habitual aspect marker would have been further facilitated by close phonetic resemblance between the Irish and English ‘be’ words…” (190)

As for the do (es) be form Filppula et al. (2008) states that although there is no direct parallel in Irish, the substratal origin cannot be excluded. He argues that the form in which auxiliary do is followed by be was never used in the earlier or dialectal form of English.

On the other hand, the early Modern Irish verbs had a so-called dependent form ending in –(e)ann, which was used for the present indicative of verbs and, as Bliss (1972) argues, had a syntactic distribution very similar to the uses of the auxiliary do in English: those contexts which in English required do required the dependent ending in early Modern Irish, and vice versa, with some minor exceptions. (Filppula, 2008: 191)

However, Filppula et al. (2008) argues that this feature is only typical of a small group of other varieties (including Irish English) of English and Irish connection “is obvious for a large part of these varieties” (191). An argument supporting the substratal origin is also offered by Todd (1999): she uses both types discussed as extended present tense markers in Irish English on the basis of the Irish language. English distinguishes between such sentences as:


Mary is going to school. (Todd, 1999: 95) Mary goes to school. (Todd, 1999: 96)

“The Celtic languages, on the other hand, make a tripartite distinction … thus adding a nuance to the distinction made in English” (Todd, 1999: 96 – 97) as it is in the following examples:

Téann Máire ar scoil. Tá Máire ag dul ar scoil. Bíonn Máire ag dul ar scoil.
1999: 97)

Goes Mary to school. (Todd, 1999: 97) Be Mary at go to school. (Todd, 1999: 97) Be + habitual Mary at go to school. (Todd,

This ability of the Irish language can be seen in Irish English which Todd (1999: 97) explains, “Irish speakers used to such fine distinctions, expected their English to provide similar nuances…” And while English distinguishes between two types of present tense, namely present simple and present continuous tense, Irish English has more possibilities:

Mary goes to school. (Todd, 1999: 97) Mary is going to school. (Todd, 1999: 97) Mary biz/ bees going to school. (Todd, 1999: 97) – meaning regularity Mary does be going to school. (Todd, 1999: 97) – meaning both regularity and


She further explains that the English language

is usually described as a Germanic language with a large Romance element… However, such constructions [i.e. forms of present simple and continuous tenses] are not a feature of Germanic or Romance languages and, although Old English developed the ability to use ‘progressive structures’, the development does not seem to have occurred in other Germanic dialects. (Todd, 1999: 98)

Todd (1999) sees as an interesting fact that out of the languages spoken by “Anglo-Saxons, Latin-using clerics, Vikings and Norman French” it is only English that makes this grammatical distinction “but is a marked feature of the Celtic tongues” (98). She (1999: 98) asks a question whether it could be “that English speakers borrowed such a distinction from the Celts, who previously lived throughout Ireland and Britain.” To sum up, from the argumentation above it can be concluded that a certain amount of a substratal influence on Irish English has to be admitted.

4.4 Irish English Use of Prepositions
The use of prepositions is richer in Irish English in comparison with standard uses: prepositions occur in structures which are obsolete or not used at all in StE; however, on the other hand, they reflect the parallel usage in the Irish language. Indeed, the Irish English prepositions are another area where is


a clear substratal influence. This feature is generally agreed to be based on the Irish parallel,

There is also general consensus among HE scholars that the prepositional of HE reflects to a great extent the corresponding Irish usages… The heavy leaning on Irish is explained by the special role that prepositions play in Irish syntax.” (Filppula, 1999: 218)

In the following sections 4 types of prepositions are discussed: a) on, b) in, c) with and d) of. Although this grammatical structure is also dealt by Hickey (2007), the categorization of individual sections is based on Filppula (1999) who describes the phenomenon in greater detail.

4.4.1 The Preposition on
Filppula (1999) explains that Irish English on has several functions as its counterpart ar in Irish. Table 6 identifies four categories where on occurs in Irish English (Filppula, 1999: 219):


Table 6 Categories of non-standard occurrences of on in Irish English 1. To imply a disadvantage of some kind or another from the point of view of the referent (also known under the heading ‘dativus incommodi’11 (Hayden and Hartog, qtd. in Filppula 1999: 219))

Someone took three hundred pounds on him. (Hickey, 2007: 247)
2. To express various physical and mental sensations, states or processes, most often negative, often used with be, go and come

…in America is quite = the climate is fright on you. New York is a fright in the heat now. (Filppula, 1999: 220)
3. To expres some type of possession or another, often ‘inalienable’ type, expressing an inherent physical or other inherent property of the referent

… But I can’t think the name that was on him. (Filppula, 1999: 221)
4. Miscellaneous non-standard uses of on

… So anyway didn’t the lots, the lots fell on Shanahan, he had to go.
(Filppula, 1999: 222)

The origin of the first structure can be explained comparison of an Irish sentence with an Irish English one: bhuail Seumas mo ghadhar orm with James

struck my dog on me, “where on me corresponds to the Irish prepositional
pronoun orm and means to ‘to my detriment, in violation of my right’” (Joyce, 1910/1988: 27, qtd. in Filppula 1999: 220). The third type can also by directly derived from an Irish parallel, namely from the Irish idiom cé’n t-ainm atá ort? with a meaning What name is upon you? (Bliss, 1979: 309, qtd. in Filppula 1999: 221). Further he (1999: 222) explains, that the sentence stated in 3) has a “‘theme-rheme’ structure” placing “the (typically) personal ‘logical’ subject …


Dativus incommodi – “the dative denoting a person to whose … disadvantage something is done…” (Mathesius and Vachek, 1975: 126-127)


in the position of the rheme … and cast in the form of a prepositional phrase in direct imitation of the corresponding Irish pattern … StE favours the opposite strategy…”. The fourth type has often very similar meaning to ‘dativus incommodi’ as in the cases mentioned above. Concerning the origin, the examples of the fourth type can be found in some southwestern BrE dialects (Filppula, 1999: 223-224), however, all the remaining uses were found only exceptionally or not at all in the BrE dialect corpora. Consequently, he concludes that these usages of ‘on’ have “roots in the corresponding Irish system”. Another evidence of the Irish origin of nonstandard uses of ‘on’ Filppula (1999: 224) states the existence of similar patterns in HebE.

4.4.2 The Preposition in
Under this heading there are stated seven types of specific uses of the preposition ‘in’ in Irish English which shows Table 7 (Filppula, 1999: 226-231).


Table 7 Categories of non-standard occurrences of in in Irish English 1. To denote concrete location in some place

…There was acres and miles of land just for to live in it. (Filppula, 1999:
227) 2. The notion of location in the metaphorical sense, i.e. existence

There used to be a hotel in it. (Hickey, 2007: 247)
3. The focus on the presence of somebody or something in some place

… well, I didn’t know them. I wasn’t in this part of the world, when they were in it. (Filppula, 1999: 228)
4. To express some inherent quality or property of something

President Kiely’ could have been shell-shocked, you know? And that was, this was the kink that was in him… (Filppula, 1999: 229)
5. To denote an involvement

Mrs. F: And then it sort of died out, and then the man that was in it, a certain Defoe that was in it, he sold the licence, you see. (Filppula,
1999: 229) 6. Use of ‘in’ instead of some other preposition

But they = they killed a few lads in = in = that day. They saw ‘em runnin’, like, = an’ they shot ‘em. (Filppula, 1999: 230)
7. Use of ‘in’ in connection with the verb ‘live’

… That was desperate … they lived in hard work. (Filppula, 1999: 231)

From the categories above, it is obvious that most of the uses is connected with the prepositional phrase ‘in it’ which has its Irish parallel ann meaning ‘in-it’ or ‘in existence’ in Irish and thus Filppula (1999) concludes, that especially the categories “with the pattern ‘in it’ in its existential and other related meanings” are based on the Irish parallel. Although some occurrences of the phrase are also found in Filppula’s BrE dialect database, however, he (1999) explains that there is a vast difference between the frequencies of occurrences in corpora from IrE dialects and in combined corpora from BrE dialects in favour for IrE dialects. As regards the sixth type, Filppula (1999) 51

clarifies some of the usages of ‘in’ instead of some other preposition: in Roscommon dialect ‘in’ can be used “in connection with psychical sensations” (Henry, qtd. in Filppula 1999: 230); further ‘in’ can stand for ‘into’ which is possibly caused by the lack of distinction between ‘in’ and ‘into’ in Irish. Concerning the seventh category, Filppula (1999) believes that it may be based on some Irish parallel, but he has no evidence for this.

4.4.3 The Preposition with
The situations where the preposition with is used a non-standard way in IrE shows Table 8.

Table 8 Categories of non-standard occurrences of with in Irish English 1. To express the duration of a state or an activity

Hugh Curtin is buried with years… (Filppula, 1999: 232)
2. To express agency in passive constructions

And it … was sold on err = with an auctioneer. (Filppula, 1999: 234)
3. To indicate the means or instrument with which an action is performed … He must have got hit with a car or something, I think. (Filppula, 1999: 234) To express the cause of a state, event or action


… he could hardly free the teeth = from each other with the cold.
(Filppula, 1999: 235) -> because of the cold 5. To denote possession and physical attributes

The money is with them. (Filppula, 1999: 236) -> they have plenty of money


All the specific uses above can be derived from the Irish preposition ‘le’ denoting temporal meaning, agency, instrumentality and causality. Filppula (1999: 237) states that “the temporal and causal ones are most likely due to direct influence from the corresponding Irish prepositional patterns.” The agentive and instrumental uses have also superstratal parallels in earlier English. However, on the basis of his survey Filppula (1999) he found no occurrences in the last EModE subperiod of the Helsinky corpus and scant occurrences in BrE dialects, which as he claims is an argument against superstratal influence. The use of ‘with’ in the last category is according to Henry and Moyland (qtd. in Filppula, 1999: 236) derived from the possessive use of Irish ‘le’.

4.4.4 The Preposition of
Filppula (1999) focuses on the ‘attributive of’ which he describes as “the connection of ‘of’ to form a certain kind of NP structure consisting of two nouns joined by ‘of’. The first noun, although most often itself modified by an adjectival attribute, assumes the function of a kind of adjectival attribute to the second noun with a clearly intensifying force” (238)

There was two Learys and two Murphys, Lawlor, Curtis and Hehir; seven men. And by all accounts they were all big giants o’ men.


Filppula (1999: 238) says that although this feature of ‘of’ can be also seen in other dialects in the British Isles, in Irish English it “appears to be particularly well-developed and productive…” Joyce (1910/1988: 42, qtd. in Filppula 1999: 239) offers the Irish parallel in the form of construction such as ‘amadán fir’ meaning ‘a fool of a man’ and adds that “it is far more general among us, for the obvious reason that it has come to us from two sources (instead of one) – Irish and English.” Moylan (1996, gtd. in Filppula 1999: 239) states that many of the functions of ‘of’ “are consistent with those of Ir. ‘de’” such as in amadán de shuine meaning ‘a fool of a person’. To support the Irish origin of this feature Filppula states the existence of the pattern in Hebridean English. All in all, from the discussion above is obvious that Irish again played an important role in formation of this type of usage of ‘of’ which is especially supported by the presence of a similar pattern in HebE and by the existence of an Irish English equivalent.


Irish English generally adopted many features from Irish – whether phonological, linguistic or stylistic ones. The study offers an account of few peculiarities of the Irish English grammar. It explains that the formation of these special structures was caused by the influence of the Irish language which has played an important role in lives of the Irish. The thesis discusses nuances in distinguishing between several perfective aspects that Irish English enables thanks to the substratal influence. Further it shows an extensive use of the prepositions to convey certain meanings: in StE it would be seen as incorrect, however, a nearer look at the Irish system explains such treatment of the prepositions. Similarly, the thesis clarifies the Irish overuse of the definite article and what is called unbound reflexives. Although in many of the cases concerned a possible superstratal influence can be argued, there still is a strong evidence for at least reinforcing substratal influence. The aim of the paper was to reveal the way the Irish speak and at the same time to explain a reason of a non-standard usage of English which is a hundreds of years lasting influence of the Irish language.


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