A Corpus of Irish English Correspondence (CORIECOR)

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Using samples from the <i>Corpus of Irish English Correspondence</i>, the rise of the progressive in Irish English is traced from the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. Comparison with other varieties shows the progressive was no more frequent in Irish English than in other varieties up to the late eighteenth century. However, in the nineteenth century it outstrips other Englishes, supporting the hypothesis that this development in English generally might have been driven by Irish immigration. However, peculiarly Irish uses of the progressive are not well attested in the corpus data, even in the mid-nineteenth century. This paper suggests that increasing literacy drove the development in Ireland, with vernacular uses of the progressive increasing in step with literacy levels. Keywords: Irish English; corpus; emigrant letters; progressive aspect; literacy


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