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Feature loss in 19th century Irish English

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Abstract

The current contribution is concerned with the disappearance of a number of dialect features from the English language in Ireland during the course of the 19th century. At the outset of this century there were many archaic and dialectal features from earlier input varieties of English as well as transfer features from Irish which had been carried over by bilinguals during the language shift to English. In the course of the 19th century a native middle class arose in Ireland due to the emancipation of, and general education for the Catholic population. This in turn led to the emergence of a supraregional variety of English in which many of the earlier features were removed and/or replaced by more mainstream ones, stemming from southern British usage. Developments were not always straightforward and many features were relegated to vernacular varieties or to positions of slighter salience, thus escaping censure by later generations. The consideration of just what paths was taken by what features forms the backbone of this contribution.

References

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