Ireland is a country where two languages have coexisted for centuries: Irish and English. The history and presence of both languages is directly linked to the history of the country. As a former colony of England, Irish led a shadowy existence alongside the official English language for a long time. But since people in the western regions in particular have never completely stopped using Irish in addition to English, Ireland has developed its own dialect over the centuries: Irish English or Hiberno English. English, as spoken in Ireland today, has a number of grammar and expression characteristics that are unmistakably linked to the Irish language.
The history of Hiberno-English
The development of a spoken language is always a testament to the historical development of a country. Especially in Ireland, which has had a close relationship with the neighboring island of England for centuries, this reciprocal relationship between two cultures and their means of communication applies: language. Which language is predominantly used in a country is always a sign of the power-political situation there.
Before the arrival of the Normans under the rule of the English King HEINRICH II in the 12th century, only Irish was spoken in Ireland. With the Normans, two new languages came to Ireland: Norman French and an early form of Middle English. French was spoken by the aristocratic commanders of the troops, but English was the language of ordinary followers. These gradually settled on Irish soil, during the nobility in most cases also had obligations in neighboring England and was therefore hardly present. When they stayed in Ireland, unlike the common English settlers, they had little contact with the common Irish population. Until the 16th century, the settlement areas of English immigrants were rather scattered. Their administration was also subordinate to the Norman nobles and ultimately to the English crown, but they cared little about an efficient local policy. For the Norman settlers this meant coming to terms with the existing Irish royal houses, e.g. B. through marriage or the establishment of commercial relationships. In order to gain a foothold in Ireland, the Norman settlers were forced to adopt Irish customs and adopt customs and learn the Irish language as the only means of communication. The settlers were “more Irish than the Irish themselves”, a cultural adaptation that hard in the provisions adopted by the Normans Statutes of Kilkenny (Statutes of Kilkenny) was criticized late 14th century.
But only with the settlements initiated by the English crown in the middle of the 16th century (plantation)the English language began to gain importance. For the first time, English settlers settled in areas where only Irish was spoken. As a result, the local Irish had to learn English if they wanted to communicate and trade with the settlers, because the new power structures were based on the English language. The origin of Hiberno-English falls into this period, because the Irish began to mix Irish and English in vocabulary, idiom, syntax and pronunciation.
At the political and ideological level, the use of English has been consolidated over the centuries. In the establishment of the Protestant Trinity College Dublin in 1592, the English culture and language became the higher Equated to education. In return, this meant (for the settler descendants) access to the higher social class of Ireland. In connection with this, the way was free to pursue a respected profession, an improved economic situation and to participate in the political events of the country. Even at the Catholic St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, founded in 1795, the priests trained there were encouraged to deliver their sermons to the Irish-speaking population in English. At the level of legislation, especially that carried criminal law (Penal Laws) helping of 1695-1727 that the Irish language and culture were considered inferior. During this time, Irish was also translated into English for the first time.
With the Act of Union 1800, which brought the legislatures of England and Ireland together, the possibility of political participation in the Parliament of Westminster in London was linked to a command of the English language. Ironically, the negotiations for the independence of Ireland that had begun at that time could only be conducted in English.
The education reform passed in 1831 also stipulated that Irish schools should only be taught in English.
The final victory over the Irish language was won by English in 1845 with the Great Famine,which mainly affected the poor Irish-speaking population. Those who did not starve emigrated (along with their knowledge of the Irish language and culture) mainly to America.
Marks of the Hiberno-English
Since the time of the Plantations, the English language in Ireland has gained importance in the everyday dealings between locals and settlers. In today’s linguistic usage there are still many vocabulary that have long been outdated in Standard English. The best-known example is probably the word stran, which can still be found on all signs in Ireland today. The word beach is common in modern English today. Another example is the Irish-English plural childher for standard English children. In some ways, Language in Ireland is such a living museum of the past uses of the English language.
Hiberno-English uses many expressions translated directly from Gaelic. These loan translations, also called Calques, can be found, for example, in the use of the Irish conjunction tar éis in a sentence like I am just after coming in through the door (I just came through the door).
The Gaelic conjunction gó becomes till in Hiberno-English: Wait till I tell you (Wait so that I can / may tell you).
One of the most conspicuous features of Hiberno English for foreign visitors is the use of the definite article the in nouns that do not require an article in standard English: I am going home for the Christmas. This is because there is no indefinite article in Irish.
Furthermore, there is an abundance of words in Hiberno-English that were borrowed directly from the Irish language, the loan words, such as go (mouth), often used in the swear word gob-shite, or also galore (any amount) as in Expression whiskey galore.
In some cases, words in today’s standard English are used as if they were an Irish word: bold means bold or brave in standard English while it means cheeky in Hiberno English.
A general characteristic of Hiberno-English is also that the speakers use more words than are needed to actually make a statement.
As in German, the general structure of a sentence in Standard English consists of the arrangement of subject, verb, and object. In Irish, however, there is an auxiliary verb, ís (to be), also called copula, which must be at the beginning of the sentence so that the order is reversed and the verb is in front of the subject. In Hiberno English this will result in a sentence such as B. It is money he talks about (He talks about money).
The use of the conjunction and instead of a subordinate conjunction in the subordinate clause is based on the Irish conjunction agus (and), which can also have a subordinate function. This gives in Hiberno English I looked out of the window and he walking by (I looked out of the window while he was walking by).
In the case of indirect questions in Hiberno English, as in Irish, the order of the previous question is retained: She asked him where were the others (She asked him where the others were).
As with any other language, Ireland has different dialects and accents depending on the region in which it is spoken. However, some features of the English spoken in Ireland apply to the entire island. There is a vowel shift in the pronunciation of some words, such as E.g. the verb celebrate. Is pronounced in e a i, and the consonant l is doubled, the word sounds so, as it will cillibrate written.
A Hiberno-English speaker adds an additional vowel to words that end in two consonants so that they are blended together: from film becomes filam.
So if you go on vacation to Ireland, you now know that you don’t speak bad or wrong English there. English spoken in Ireland has a story of its own, and in that sense it is just as “right” as the English you learned in school.