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Linguistic Change in Galway City English

A Variationist Sociolinguistic Study of (th) and (dh) in Urban Western Irish English


Arne Peters

This volume is a novel approach to the corpus-based variationist sociolinguistic study of contemporary urban western Irish English. Based on qualitative data as well as on linguistic features extracted from the Corpus of Galway City Spoken English, this study approaches the major sociolinguistic characteristics of (th) and (dh) variability in Galway City English. It demonstrates the diverse local patterns of variability and change in the phonetic realisation of the dental fricatives and establishes a considerable degree of divergence from traditional accounts on Irish English. This volume suggests that the linguistic stratification of variants of (th) and (dh) in Galway correlates both with the social stratification of the city itself and with the stratification of speakers by social status, sex/gender and age group.
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3. Galway City English as a variety of Irish English


3.  Galway City English as a variety of Irish English

The present chapter takes a feature-based as well as a study-based approach to the development of Galway City English as a variety of Irish English. Against the background of a critical assessment of nine (major) studies that have been conducted for different urban varieties of both Northern and Southern Irish English, the methodologies, the scope and the placement of the present study are calibrated. The chapter further compiles phonological properties of English as spoken in Galway, particularly focussing on the variables (th, dh) and their major realisations as well as their geographical/social patterns of distribution.

While producing a diachronic and synchronic picture of Galway City as a social space with its own socioeconomic and sociolinguistic stratifications, the previous chapter has also considered possible intra-urban linguistic differences between various neighbourhoods/districts of the city. It was argued that long-persisting contact with Irish within and outside the city limits, linguistic conservatism vis-à-vis English in Britain, as well as recent patterns of in-migration and immigration have quite probably produced a distinct set of intra-urban speech varieties that can be characterised along the lines of being more or less conservatively Galwegian. While some speakers in the CGCSE have, indeed, confirmed this notion on a perceptual basis, the question arises whether the linguistic differences between certain neighbourhoods are still detectable in Galway City English today and, more importantly, whether any of the local Galwegian patterns of speech have received any linguistic...

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