Northern Irish/English accent connection

Discussion in 'English Only' started by call_me_the_alchemist, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. Often times when I hear an accent from Northern Ireland and the more northern counties of the Republic of Ireland (such as Donegal), I can hear that these accents have a very similar sound to the accents of northern England. Does anyone else hear this connection, and if not, what other accents sound similar to any of the Irish accents?

    I've also heard people say that American and Australian accents sound similar to Irish, as well. Does anyone hear this?
  2. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    My perception as a Brit:

    Northern Ireland (Norn Iron) accents don't sound at all like Northern English accents to me. They are highly distinctive but if they are a tiny bit like something, it would be some Scottish accents.

    Standard American and Dublin/some other Irish accents have some similarities I would say, yep.

    Australian sounds much more like Estuary/Cockney English in southern England than Irish.
  3. I don't think American accents sound Irish at all, so it surprises me that anyone thinks that. What similiarity do you hear, and which American accent do you hear Irish influence in?

    Americans seem to have a hard time distinguishing Irish/English/Scottish accents, but those from the U.K. seem to think Irish accents sound American. How do Scottish accents compare?
  4. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    American accents have similar rhotic tones as Irish. Listen to the difference between a sentence spoken in the Queen's English and an Irish accent and you'll hear it.
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    To me, the Irish "r" sounds similar to the American "r". It's much more similar to American than the English or Scottish "r". (I know, I know... which English "r", right? :) I'm thinking of the London accent, since that's the one I've heard the most.)
  6. So in general, you think the Irish accent sounds more American than English? I am American (from Taunton, Massachusetts) and I don't hear it, but the Boston accent is clearly Irish influenced.
  7. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Although this may sound strange, what sounds similar to me is the Irish accent I've heard and the Appalachian accent I've heard. To me, they seemed closely tied together. I know that there was a large influx of Irish immigrants to the Appalachian mountains at one time, so that may be part of it. I wish I knew more of the related history. Accents are fascinating.
  8. I can hear Irish (and even southwest English) influence in the southern American accent (especially Tennessee), but I don't think my accent sounds like either one.

    Does anyone hear any connections between Irish and accents from within the United Kingdom?
  9. mirx Banned

    As a foreigner I can tell you that irish accent is nothing like the english one, neither is it like the american. But it I were to compare them I'd say irish sounds much more like american than english. And even more simlar to Scotish accents.

    I don't know other foreigners but I can easily differentiate accents since one word pronounced by an american would be completely different to one pronounced by an english, so let's say I had to learn 2 different words with one say meaning. Natives may not see this as deepley as I do, cause they'll understand by context, but in my case If a word was not pronounced the way I was taught I would think that it was a complete diffrent word.

    Going back to the question, in Dublin people have somehow similar phonetics to some american ones, but as you get into the Irish country side the accents get much thicker and much more guttural and they remind me a lot of the link with germanic languages. They also tend to roll and re-roll the "r", whcih is practically mute in english dialects and americans don't pronounce as roughly, other big difference (in some part of Irelnad) is "th" which is not pronounced in many words, so 30 (thirty) becomes terrrty (something like that)
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I sometimes hear Irish speakers on the BBC. I have no idea what part of Ireland they are from. I'm often struck by the strong similarity of those Irish accents to many American accents. Those particular Irish speakers sound far more like Americans than like speakers of RP or most other UK accents I've heard.
  11. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I suppose it's a case of what you are used to hearing. For me an Australian accent is distinctly different from Cockney or Estuary English - Australians don't say 'appy Birf-day, or turn t into a glottal stop.

    I also don't think that the Australian accent is anything like any Irish accent.

    Some people hear an accent, and realise that English is the person's mother tongue, and then think: "Not American, not English, what's left? Australian? Irish?"

    Many Irish accents have dental t and d, particularly in Dublin where they use dental t or d for unvoiced and voiced th sounds. I haven't heard that in American speech.
  12. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    From 'The Story Of English' by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil.
    Professor Cratis Williams, who has been called "the father of Appalachian studies" and has devoted years to a study of the speech in that region, considers that the Appalacian people are "the best storytellers in the world", a tradition he attributes to their Scotish past.

    According to Williams, the talk of these hills is now a jumble of Scots-Irish, English and German. But from the beginning, the Scots-Irish in the Appalacians were especially noted for their speech. In the advertisements of the time, their speech was called "broad", as distinct from the Irish who spoke with "the Brogue of his Tongue". English words borrowed into Pennsylvanian German often show archaic forms which could have come from the Scots-Irish: chaw for "chew", ingine for "engine" and picter for "picture". Writers of the time knew what they were describing. The Reverend Jonathan Boucher, writing in the 1880s, says that it is one of four distinctive "dialects" remaining in the States - "the Scotch-Irish, as it used to be called, in some of the back settlers of the Middle States".

    Many examples of Scots-Irish usage prevail to this day - words like bonny-clabber for curdled sour milk (an anglicization of the Irish Gaelic bainne clabair) and flannel-cake for a thin wheat cake. Sook, sookie or sook cow is the local cry farmers use to summon the herd and comes from the Old English sucan meaning "to suck". The famous Southern you-all is a Scots-Irish translation of the plural yous. The use of all in this context, and in contexts like who-all was there? and tell me what-all you did?, is typical both of Ulster and of the (largely southern) states of America.

    Most famous of all, perhaps, is the Scots-Irish use of the word cabin to refer to the log houses of the frontier. Log cabin was first recorded in 1770 referring to the buildings of Virginnia, and it is clear that the Scots-Irish, who lived in such buildings (borrowing the design from the German Americans), spread both the name and the building method, until the term entered American folklore.

    Cratis Williams says that the distinctive marks of contemporary Appalachian English are clear enough. The word "there" becomes tharr, "bear" becomes barr and "hair" is herr.

    It is thought that the traditional speech patterns have been maintained due to the isolated location and the fiercely independent nature of the people of the region.

  13. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    The main similarities are the rhotic R and a similar, though not identical, long-A sound.

    Irish has influenced some US accents. Anyone saying dis, dese, dat, dose for example.

    American is closer to Irish and Southwestern England accents than any other English accents, I would say. Ireland and SW England more or less gave birth to the rhotic R and it went to America with some of them. (Some historians think that all of England spoke with a rhotic R a few hundred years ago however, others disagree.)
  14. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    You never heard Noo Yawk cops or gangsters saying dis, dese, dat?

    Even Aussie historians agree that the Australian accent is the way it is because of massive south-east English settlement. I can't see how you don't hear it, but I agree with you, it is a case of the way you hear your own accent and others. They are very similar, though now have important differences. I know a lot of Americans who think the GEICO gecko 'free pie and chips' ad (no, I hadn't heard of it either :) ) is Australian. It's pure Cockney. Some Americans confuse SE English and Aussie accents for the following reasons. (All my totured attempts at phonetics here are designed to appeal to an American ear...I posted this a while ago on an Anglo-American board. It's more how Americans would hear the sounds than any attempt at an international standard.)

    What is the same

    eye/igh sounds. Both are rendered OI. 'Eyes' is just straight oiz in Australian and something between oiz and eyes in London/SE.

    ee/ea sounds. Both accents create a sort of dipthong with ee/ea sounds...the blending 'uh-ee' together in a way that sounds a little like 'ay'. Therefore both accents render 'feet' as something between fuh-eet and fate.

    ai/ay sounds. Both accents render ai/ay sounds as eye/igh. 'Rain' comes out as rine in Australian and somewhere between rine and rain in London/SE.

    Plus people from both areas coninually say 'mate' 'bugger' and 'bloody'. :)
  15. nay92 Member

    English, England
    I've also heard people say that American and Australian accents sound similar to Irish, as well. Does anyone hear this?[/quote]

    To your last part...i have to say i havent heard anyone say that American and Australian accents sound similar to irish? I have heard however that American and Australian accents sound the same.
  16. MidlandsMezzo New Member

    English (UK) United Kingdom
    Hi All

    As a native of Dublin (Ireland), who has lived in the UK for nearly twenty years, I would like to add my own 2p worth -

    I cannot hear a resemblance between Irish and northern English accents (this may be due to my ear).

    I can perceive some similarity between some Northern Irish accents and Scottish accents, but this is probably a throw-back to the linguistic influence of Scottish planters who moved to part of Northern Ireland in 1610 with the encouragement of James I of Scotland.

    Regarding any similarity between US and Irish accents, I have sometimes found that I am better understood in parts of the US than I am in areas of the UK where there are fewer people of Irish ethnic origin (I live in a small market town of some 300,00 inhabitants and I can count the number of Irish people I have met on one hand - and this is over the space of nearly 20 years) than the historical rather large Irish influx to the US. As a result, accents like mine are relatively rare around here. I suppose it gets down to what you are accustomed to ... I used to be a Medical Secretary and found that after some years I had little trouble understanding different ethnic or foreign accents (African continent, various European, Indian and Pakistani, Middle East) than I had before exposure to such a variety of accents.

    Hope this helps.


  17. maxiogee Banned

    I think it also can be down to the fact that the majority of the English who settled here and retained their accents tended to settle in the southern counties, and around the east coast. What used to be termed "the Ascendancy" tended to have very "English" accents - even after having been settled here for generations.
  18. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
  19. MidlandsMezzo New Member

    English (UK) United Kingdom

    As a descendant of "the Ascendancy", (Anglo-Irish protestant stock) I have to concur with your remark. I do sound somewhat anglicised to other Irish nationals (this has always been the case) but not particularly to English nationals whom I have met here in the UK ... one of my friends from my youth in Dublin used to maintain that people with my type of background were "most at home on the Holyhead boat, as you don't really belong properly to either country". As someone who suffers from seasickness (save me from car ferries) I initially found it difficult to see the joke!

    BTW, thank you for the welcome to the forum. Much appreciated.


  20. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Despite certain similarities, no Australian could pass for a Cockney in Limehouse for one second - nor could a Cockney pass for an Australian. As soon as they open their mouths, they are sprung.
  21. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    Speaking as someone who has a northern English accent, there is no chance I would ever be taken as Irish, much less as Northern Irish. That these two might sound similar strikes me only being possible if you weren't familiar with either.

    There of varieties of English in Northern Ireland which have (depending on the area) some gloriously complicated and unique vowel sounds. I swear some have at least three different sounds going on at once. Imagine Ian Paisley saying now, then try to spell it phonetically.
  22. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK
    There are certain slight and probably very specific similarities between some words and phrases as pronounced in parts of the North West of England and Belfast and environs. My specific example from my own, very personal experience is when I say "hello". I have said "hello" (or perhaps "hullo", really) upon being presented to people from Belfast and on several occasions have then been asked 'Oh, are you Irish, too?' There is nothing beyond "hullo", however, to make me think that I sound anything like Gerry Adams.

    Incidentally, I have what I would describe as a Lancashire accent. Not very far away are scouse accents that definitely have something in common with some Irish accents. There have been numerous studies on scouse pronunciation, and it is often described as the result of Irish accents coming into contact with Lancashire accents, a blend, if you like, over generations.

    That's my 2p. Sorry to be so relative and vague, but that's me.
  23. porkyc New Member

    Dear Alchemist,

    Yes, when you hear the Southern Irish accent, you realise totally where the US American accent has come from.
    The Northern Irish accent is much harder, and frankly, more unpleasant. But having just came back from Australia, I was wondering how this accent had developed of its own accord. But as you listen to the Northern Irish accent, the similarities to the Australian one are quite striking, especially the rising end of sentence, that isn't necessarily a question.
    Best regards
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello porkyc, and welcome to these forums - spoken harshly in my unpleasant Northern Irish accent, but meant well just the same:D

    The terminal pitch uplift is a very recent import to NI, as to much of the UK, brought to us "courtesy" of the antipodean soaps. It is not a natural part of the NI accent and is very much defined by age.

    Despite our small size, the Northern Ireland diaspora covers the world, hence the resonances of Irish and Northern Irish in the accents of all formal colonial territories.

    It is worth pointing out (again:) ) that Northern Ireland includes a very wide variety of accents, ranging from the very Irish to the almost Scots and tempered by a strong flavour in some groupings of ascendancy English.

    On the possible similarity with northern English accents - I think you would have to go beyond Lancashire and Yorkshire and into the top end of the Lake District, or Northumbria, to find such similarities.

    When I am in England, in the south of England, I am often taken to be a Scot.
    In Europe, I'm usually taken to be US or Australian - but I think this is because they reckon I'm not English:p
  25. maxiogee Banned

    I'd go along with panjandrum there. And I'd add that all those accents and speakers he mentioned lived cheek-by-jowl with each other in many cases and influenced each other, not least by lending their own words to the other peoples' versions of the English language
  26. lithium: Member

    Eng. - UK
    How about the rhotic "Lancashire burr", could that also be an Irish influence?
    Apart from Liverpool (which, by the way, is still a part of the ceremonial county of Lancashire ;)), there was also a lot of Irish immigration (post-famine) into many other Lancashire towns.
    For example, I read that Chorley had, per person, even more Irish-born residents than Liverpool, in 18-something-or-other...
    Well, I'm also from that region and I agree that, generally speaking, the Northern English and Northern Irish accents are not very similar, but maybe the thing about Irish immigration could have something to do with the suggested connection.
  27. loladamore

    loladamore Senior Member

    Zacatecas, México
    English UK
    I grew up about halfway between Chorley and Salford (in a place known locally as 'dog-shit valley'; and yet they still ask why I moved so far away), and yes, Irish immigration was huge there. I had the (mis)fortune to go to Catholic schools where approximately 60% of the children had at least 1 Irish parent, and many of them had Irish accents. Our parish priest was born and bred in Salford, but he was as Irish as they come; no trace of England in his accent.

    SO, my point is that there probably was some Irish influence on our local pronunciation, although the Irish presence is very varied in origin - from Cork to Derry, so it would be a composite Irish influence rather than a specific one.
  28. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    We have many members living in many parts of the world, and I would never say that a particular accent is more unpleasant than another without very carefully expressing this as a personal opinion. ;)

    Welcome to the forum!

  29. Does anyone know of any examples of features in the Australian, American, or Canadian accents that have come specifically from Irish? How much Scottish influence is there in the Australian accent?
  30. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    Could this then be where the southside "D4" accent is coming from? Or has it just caught on from copying American television stars? :idea:
  31. jess oh seven

    jess oh seven Senior Member

    UK/US, English
    I think it´s all in the Rs. :)
    People here sometimes think I´m Irish due to my American accent.
  32. sloopjc Senior Member

    UK English
    I like the rising intonation of the Northern Irish accent as it readies to drop. It suggests openness, curiosity and optimism. I could not compare it to any English regional accent except maybe for the 'Geordie' accent which is equally rising in intonation and all of the above!:)
  33. winklepicker

    winklepicker Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Nah. Buh Invicta is bloody roight, mate. Ve ole bugger knahs exackly wot 'e's sighin'. :D
  34. sloopjc Senior Member

    UK English
    "Noi" as in, "Noi and agee-aan!"
  35. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    I think it would sound more like "Neeeevvvveeeeerrrrr" ;)
  36. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For those who would like to hear some Northern Ireland voices, I suggest taking a listen to the recordings on the BBC Voices website.
    My personal favourite would be the recordings of William Forbes Marshall
    Such amazing wisdom he spoke, in 1954.

    For a range of accents from across our wee country, CLICK HERE.
  37. winklepicker

    winklepicker Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Don't all rush at once... :D
  38. sloopjc Senior Member

    UK English
    Aye thank yeeeee! Drap o' tay an a sleece o' breeead n' jam furrrrr that! :D
  39. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    To me the very distinctive Ulster accent, as heard from the Rev. Ian Paisley and, for those old enough to remember the TV copper, Private Lynch, in Z-Cars, is basically Southern Irish with a strong admixture of mainly Scottish, from the Protestant areas of Scotland. The history of the country explains this mixture:
    In the 1600s Ulster was the last redoubt of the traditional Gaelic way of life, and following the defeat of the Irish forces in the Nine Years War(1594-1603) Elizabeth I's English forces succeeded in subjugating Ulster and all of Ireland. The Gaelic leaders of Ulster, finding their power under the English very limited, decamped en masse in 1607 to Roman Catholic Europe. This allowed the settlement of Ulster with more loyal English and Scottish planters, a process which began in earnest in 1610.
    This "plantation" process continued with Welsh and English settlers, the main aim being the protestantisation of Ulster, and was consolidated by the ruthless Cromwell and the practical William of Orange, the latter invited by the English to occupy the throne of the deposed Catholic James II - a very bad King.
    Hence this remarkable accent and the sectarian "troubles" that only now seem to be abating.
  40. setantaclaus Member

    English, Ireland
    I used to live in east Tennessee and never perceived any similarity between my own accent and that of the natives. The immigrants who settled in Tennessee in the 17th Century were predominantly from Ulster, so if there is any influence, it came from the North of Ireland. The term Scots-Irish/Scotch-Irish that many Tennesseans claim to be dates from the 19th Century, when it was coined to distinguish this group of settlers from the very poor Irish who were escaping the Famine.
  41. KHS

    KHS Senior Member

    I think that some Canadian accents are quite similar to some Irish accents (please don't ask me to be specific; I don't know enough), and consequently US accents along the border in those areas also resemble the same Irish accents.

    I think there's a greater backing of the R (making it sound "flatter" to me) and a rising intonation at the end of a statement that are part of the dialects that are similar.

    I'm very tentative about this.


  42. tinlizzy

    tinlizzy Senior Member

    USA - English
    I can identify an Irishman but I have noticed on recent trips that I cannot tell Australians and Brits apart on first listen. Until I might hear barley or allo, I'm seriously stumped. I have heard both nationalities comment that American English is getting harder to understand.

    Regarding infuences on accent - English speaking American from a predominately Czech influenzed community (i.e. birthaday). For some reason all through China when I would try and speak a little Chinese I would hear, "Ahhh, Italian!":D I am very blonde and it made my son chuckle everytime!
  43. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    I can identify an Irishman but I have noticed on recent trips that I cannot tell Australians and Brits apart on first listen. tinlizzy
    As regards the connection between Australian (Strine) and London/Estuary English or the extreme form, Cockney, I certainly feel there are similarities, particularly the impure vowels e.g. the word mate which sounds the same as Standard BE might in both varieties. The reason is also historical, in that the thousands of convicts deported (Aussies say transported) to Botany Bay and later to other areas of the continent were mostly from London. Some were desperate criminals but others had only stolen a little food to feed their starving families. Australians to whom I have pointed out this similarity in speech have flatly denied it with some annoyance, even though I didn't mention the convicts. There were many Irishmen fleeing from famine and English oppression who also settled downunder, but they do not seem to have influenced the accent there, unless in the intonation, which I am unable to tell.
  44. Whither Canada? New Member

    Northern Ireland - Native English speaker
    As a native (of N.I.), I have to agree that there is not a lot of resemblance to the accents of Northern England.
    In various parts of this country there are accents more heavily tinged with Scots, or Irish, than the typical N.I. accent. There is also a certain set of people who talk with a somewhat more refined accent, bearing some resemblance to an English accent (is this the Ascendancy you talk about?), but not one of the North.
  45. Imants Banned

    Yes. When I hear Irish accent for the first time, I thought they sounded close to American. But I think it's far from being similar to the Aussie accent.

    About why Irish and Northern English accents are similar, perhaps it has something to do with the large immigation of Irish in England in the past centuries.
  46. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Here is a link to a website sponsored by the University of Edinburgh:

    It has audio clips of individual words that will allow you compare English accents from all over the world.
  47. KHS

    KHS Senior Member

    The website below gives actual extracts from conversations (versus the website in the post above, which is focused on individual words):

    This website was developed for actors who needed to speak with a specific accent other than their own.

  48. katie_here Senior Member

    I'm English (NW) and my partner is Northern Irish, and I don't see any simillarity to any Northern English accent, but maybe that is because I hear these accents regularly and can hear the differences. Quite often I have to ask my partner to repeat some words because I don't understand him.

    Sometimes I can hear the same "harshness" between the Belfast accent and the Glaswegian accent, but the Edinburgh accent is a lot softer, as is the Southern Irish accent.

    With the access to global television, people choosing not to settle in their birth town and more people than ever travelling around the world, I think accents are getting intermingled with each other and the distinct local dialects are disappearing fast.

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