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   Dissociation: How to avoid local features

Speakers of both mainstream and new Dublin English generally avoid features of vernacular speech. But the speakers of new Dublin English have developed strategies for maximising the phonetic differences between realisations typical of their own variety and those of local Dublin English. This has been achieved by moving away – in phonological space – from the realisations found locally.

The following list gives some indication of what is involved here.

a) Local Dublin English has a distinction between historic back and front short vowels before /r/, in the NURSE and GIRL lexical sets, [nu:(r)s] and [ge:(r)l] respectively. But because the open front realisation is so typical of local Dublin English, there is a migration with advanced speakers in Dublin of historically front long vowels to the central rhotic type as seen in words from the SQUARE lexical set like carefully [kər:fəli] and daring [də:riŋ]. This realisation has no precedent in the history of southern Irish English.

  SPARE with slight rounding

b) Connected with the previous feature is the strict avoidance of schwa retraction before /r/ in NURSE words such as third [tə:rd], purse [pə:rs], not [tʊ:(r)d] and [pʊ:(r)s].

c) The local back rounded vowel /ʊ/ in the STRUT lexical set is replaced by an unrounded front vowel which is almost /i/, as in Sunday [sɪ-nde].

  CUT and PUT with no distinction (both with [ʊ])

  BUT and BUG with fronted realisations (centralised mid front rounded vowel).

d) A syllable-final retroflex /r/, [ɽ], is used which has the advantage of marking the /r/ even more clearly vis à vis the popular forms of Dublin English which, if at all, have only a weak syllable-final /r/.


Hickey, Raymond forthcoming. ‘Supraregionalisation and dissociation’, in: J. K. Chambers and Natalie Schilling (eds) Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Second edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.