Modern English as spoken in Ireland today retains some features showing the influence of the Irish language, such as vocabulary, grammatical structure and pronunciation.
Hiberno-English retains many phonemic differentiations that have merged in other English accents.
- With some local exceptions, /r/ occurs postvocally, making most Hiberno-English dialects rhotic. The exceptions to this are most notable in Drogheda and some other eastern towns, whose accent is distinctly non-rhotic. In Dublin English, a retroflex [ɻ] is used (much as in American English). This has no precedent in varieties of southern Irish English and is a genuine innovation of the past two decades. Mainstream varieties still use a non-retroflex [ɹ] (as in word-initial position). A uvular [ʁ] is found in north-east Leinster. /r/ is pronounced as a postalveolar tap [ɾ] in conservative accents. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Jackie Healy-Rae are both good examples of this.
- /t/ is not pronounced as a plosive where it does not occur word-initially in some Irish accents; instead, it is often pronounced as a slit fricative [θ̠]. or sibilant fricative.
- The distinction between w /w/ and wh /hw/, as in wine vs. whine, is preserved.
- The distinction between /ɒː/ and /oː/ in horse and hoarse is preserved, though not usually in Dublin or Belfast.
- A distinction between [ɛɹ]-[ɪɹ]-[ʌɹ] in herd-bird-curd may be found.
- The vowels in words such as boat and cane are usually monophthongs outside of Dublin: [boːt], and [keːn].
- The /aɪ/ in "night" may be pronounced in a wide variety of ways, e.g. [əɪ], [ɔɪ], [ʌɪ] and [ɑɪ], the latter two being the most common in middle class speech, the former two, in popular speech.
- The /ɔɪ/ in "boy" may be pronounced [ɑːɪ] (i.e. the vowel of thought plus a y) in conservative accents (Henry 1957 for Co. Roscommon, Nally 1973 for Co. Westmeath).
- In some varieties, speakers make no distinction between the [ʌ] in putt and the [ʊ] in put, pronouncing both as the latter. Nevertheless, even for those Irish people who, say, have a different vowel sound in put and cut, pairs such as putt and put, look and luck may be pronounced identically.
- In some highly conservative varieties, words spelled with ea and pronounced with [iː] in RP are pronounced with [eː], for example meat, beat.
- In words like took where "oo" usually represents /ʊ/, speakers may use /uː/. This is most common in working-class Dublin accents and the speech of North-East Leinster.
- Any and many is pronounced to rhyme with nanny, Danny by very many speakers, i.e. with /a/.
- /eɪ/ often becomes /ɛ/ in words such as gave and came (becoming "gev" and "kem")
- Consonant clusters ending in /j/ often change.
- /dj/ becomes /dʒ/, e.g. dew/due, duke and duty sound like "jew", "jook" and "jooty".
- /tj/ becomes /tʃ/, e.g. tube is "choob", tune is "choon"
- The following show neither dropping nor coalescence:
Leinster and Greater DublinAs with London and New York, Dublin has a number of dialects which differ significantly based on class and age group. These are roughly divided into three categories: "local Dublin", or the broad-working class dialect (sometimes referred to as the "working-class", or "inner city" accent); "mainstream Dublin", the typical accent spoken by middle-class or suburban speakers; and "new Dublin", an accent among younger people (born after 1970). Features include:
- /ɒ/ as in lot has a variety of realizations. In Local, this vowel is often quite front and unrounded, ranging to [a]. In Mainstream, the sound varies between [ɑ] and [ɒ]. New Dublin speakers often realize this phoneme even higher, as [ɔ].
- /ɔ/ as in thought: In Local and Mainstream accents, this vowel is usually a lengthened variant of the corresponding LOT set (i.e. [aː] in Local and [ɒː] in Mainstream.) In New Dublin accents, this sound can be as high as [oː].
- /ʌ/ as in strut: in Local Dublin, this sound merges with the sound in foot, so that strut is pronounced [strʊt]. In Mainstream, a slight distinction is made between the two, with the vowel for strut varying greatly from [ʌ] to [ɤ]. In New Dublin this vowel can shift forward, toward [ɪ].
- /oʊ/ as in goat: in Dublin English, unlike other Hiberno-Englishes, this vowel is almost always dipthongized. Local Dublin features a low inglide, rendering this sound as [ʌo], where as Mainstream features a tighter diphthong: [oʊ]. New Dublin has a slightly fronter realization, ranging to [əʊ].
- /uː/ as in goose. Local Dublin features a (highly) unique, palatized realization of this vowel, [ʲu], so that food sounds quite similar to feud. In Mainstream and New Dublin, this sound ranges to a more central vowel, [ʉ].
- /aɪ/ as in price: Traditionally this vowel ranges in pronunciation from [əi] in Local Dublin speech to [ai] in Mainstream Dublin. Among speakers born after 1970, the pronunciation [ɑɪ] often occurs before voiced consonants and word-finally.
- /aʊ/ as in mouth is usually fronted, to [æu] in Mainstream and New Dublin and more typically [ɛu] in Local.
- /ɔɪ/ as in choice: This sound ranges greatly, from [aɪ] in Local Dublin to a high-back realization [oɪ] in New Dublin. Mainstream Dublin more typically tends toward [ɒɪ].
Post-vocalically, Dublin English maintains three different standards. Local Dublin is often non-rhotic (giving lie to the repeated claim that Hiberno-English is universally rhotic), although some variants may be variably or very lightly rhotic. In non-rhotic varieties, the /ər/ in "lettER" is either lowered to [ɐ(ɹ)] or in some speakers may be backed and raised to [ɤ(ɹ)]. In Mainstream Dublin, this sound is gently rhotic ([əɹ], while New Dublin features a retroflex approximant [əɻ]. Other rhotic vowels are as follows:
- /ɑɹ/ as in start: This vowel has a uniquely high realization in Local Dublin, ranging to [ɛː]. In Mainstream Dublin, this sound is more typically [aːɹ], whereas New Dublin can feature a more back vowel, [ɑːɻ]
- The "horse-hoarse" distinction in other Irish dialects is heavily preserved in Local Dublin, but only slightly maintained in Mainstream and New varieties. In Local, "force" words are pronounced with a strong diphthong, [ʌo], while "north" words feature a low monophthong, [aː]. Mainstream Dublin contrasts these two vowels slightly, as [ɒːɹ] and [oːɹ], while in New Dublin, these two phonemes are merged to [oːɻ].
- /ɜɹ/ as in nurse. In local Dublin, this phoneme is split, either pronounced as [ɛː] or [ʊː]. In this accent, words written as "-ur" are always pronounced as [ʊː], while words written as either "-er" or "-ir" are pronounced as [ɛː], unless "-er" or "-ir" follows a labial consonant (e.g. bird or first), when this sound has the [ʊː] realization. In Mainstream and New Dublin this distinction is seldom preserved, with both phonemes typically merging to [ɚ].
- Dublin Vowel Lengthening
- School [skuːl] = [skʲuwəl]
- Mean [miːn] = [mɪjən]
- Five [faɪv] = [fəjəv]
- Final "t" is heavily lenited in Local Dublin English so that "sit" can be pronounced [sɪh], [sɪʔ] or even [sɪ].
- Intervocalically, "t" can become an alveolar approximate in Local Dublin (e.g. "not only" = [na ɹ ʌonli], while in New and Mainstream varieties it can become an alveolar tap [ɾ], similar to American and Australian English.
- θ and ð, as in "think" and "this", usually become alveolar stops [t] and [d] in Local Dublin English, while Mainstream and New Dublin maintains the more standard dentalized stops common in other varieties of Hiberno-English.
- In Local Dublin, stops are often elided after sonorants, so that, for example sound is pronounced [sɛʊn].
Northern Hiberno-English (also called Ulster English) is an umbrella term for the dialects of Hiberno-English spoken by most people in the province of Ulster. The dialect has been greatly influenced by Ulster Irish, but also by the Scots language, which was brought over by Scottish settlers during the plantations.
It has three main subdivisions: South Ulster English, Mid Ulster English and Ulster Scots. South Ulster English is spoken in south Armagh, south Monaghan, south Fermanagh, south Donegal and north Cavan. Ulster Scots is spoken in parts of north County Antrim and northeast County Londonderry. Mid Ulster English is used in the area between these (including the main cities of Belfast and Derry) and has the most speakers.