“Sure this is a great country for drink and rowing at elections”

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Few features of Irish English have been studied diachronically and the area ofpragmatic markers is likewise largely neglected even as regards present-dayIrish English (Corrigan 2010). This study uses data from the Corpus of IrishEnglish Correspondence (CORIECOR) to survey the history of some of thepragmatic markers regarded as most typical of Irish English, particularly likeand sure. Besides addressing issues like the historical provenance of thesepragmatic markers in varieties of British English, Scots, in contact with Irish,or as innovations in Irish English itself, we trace changes in the functions forwhich the markers are used throughout the timespans covered by CORIECOR(1750–1940). Also examined are usage patterns in the light of previous empiricalfindings that many of the distinctive features of Irish English tend to emergein the written record only at relatively late stages in the process of languageshift, and the hypothesis that this may be related to increasing colloquialisationor vernacularisation.


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