New-dialect formation in medieval Ireland

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This paper discusses the development of medieval Irish English (MIrE) within the model of new-dialect formation (NDF) (Trudgill 2004). In particular, the processes of interdialect development, reallocation, and focusing are discussed with respect to data from sixteen MIrE poems from Harley 913 (c.1330). The data show traces of NDF, especially with respect to dialect mixing and novel forms, but they also show a lack of focusing in comparison to the model of NDF and to contemporary Middle English poems. I suggest that this lack of focusing is due to the lack of a standardized variety of English in general. In addition, factors such as the amount of contact between the settlers and the identity of the old(er) versus the new(er) settlers might have played a role as well. Thus my paper hopes to contribute to the discussion on new-dialect formation in general and the development of MIrE in particular.


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