Dublin English refers to the diverse varieties of Irish English spoken in the metropolitan area of Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Modern-day Dublin English largely lies on a phonological continuum, ranging from a more traditional, lower-prestige, local urban accent on the one end—local Dublin English—to a more recently developing, higher-prestige, non-local (regional and even supraregional) accent on the other end, whose most advanced characteristics only first emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s—new Dublin English.
The majority of Dubliners born since the 1980s (led particularly by females) has shifted towards the most innovative non-local new Dublin accent, which is the most extreme variety in rejecting the local accent's traditional features. Most speakers from Dublin and its suburbs have accent features falling variously along the entire middle as well as the newer end of the spectrum, which together form what is called non-local Dublin English, spoken by middle- and upper-class natives of Dublin and the greater eastern Irish region surrounding the city. The strict middle of this continuum is called mainstream Dublin English, spoken by middle-class speakers. Mainstream Dublin English has become the basis of an accent that has otherwise become supraregional everywhere except in the north of the country, though new Dublin English may be overtaking it. The varieties at either extreme of the spectrum, local and new Dublin English, are both discussed in further detail below.
Overview of phonology
In the most general terms, all varieties of Dublin English have the following identifying sounds that are often distinct from the rest of Ireland, pronouncing:
- MOUTH as fronted and/or raised [æʊ~ɛʊ~eʊ].
- PRICE as retracted and/or centralised [əɪ~ɑɪ].
- GOAT as a diphthong in the range (local to non-local) of [ʌʊ~oʊ~əʊ].
Local Dublin English
Local Dublin English (or popular Dublin English) here refers to a traditional, broad, working-class variety spoken in the Republic of Ireland's capital city of Dublin. It is the only Irish English variety that in earlier history was non-rhotic; however, it is today weakly rhotic, and it uniquely pronounces:
- PRICE as [əɪ].
- MOUTH as [ɛʊ~eʊ].
- CHOICE as [aɪ~äɪ].
- GOAT as [ʌʊ~ʌo].
- STRUT as [ʊ].
- /θ/ and /ð/, respectively, as [t(ʰ)] and [d].
The local Dublin accent is also known for a phenomenon called "vowel breaking", in which MOUTH, PRICE, GOOSE and FLEECE in closed syllables are "broken" into two syllables, approximating [ɛwə], [əjə], [uwə], and [ijə], respectively.
Notable lifelong native speakers
- Damien Dempsey – "his distinctly Dublin sounds" and "a working class Dublin accent"
- Conor McGregor
New Dublin English
Evolving as a fashionable outgrowth of the mainstream non-local Dublin English, new Dublin English (also, advanced Dublin English and, formerly, fashionable Dublin English) is a youthful variety that originally began in the early 1990s among the "avant-garde" and now those aspiring to a non-local "urban sophistication". New Dublin English itself, first associated with affluent and middle-class inhabitants of southside Dublin, is probably now spoken by a majority of Dubliners born since the 1980s. It has replaced (yet was largely influenced by) moribund D4 English (often known as "Dublin 4" or "DART speak" or, mockingly, "Dortspeak"), which originated around the 1970s from Dubliners who rejected traditional notions of Irishness, regarding themselves as more trendy and sophisticated; however, particular aspects of the D4 accent became quickly noticed and ridiculed as sounding affected, causing these features to fall out of fashion by the 1990s.
This "new mainstream" accent of Dublin's youth, rejecting traditional working-class Dublin, pronounces:
- TRAP as open as [a].
- START may be [äːɹ] (listen), with a backer vowel than in other Irish accents, though still relatively fronted.
- THOUGHT as high as [ɔː] or even [oː], causing a re-split in the cot–caught merger that traditionally characterised Dublin speech.
- CHOICE as high as [ɔɪ] or even [oɪ].
- GOAT as the RP diphthong [əʊ] (listen).
- SQUARE and NURSE as both possibly rounded [øːɻ], perhaps causing a fur–fair merger.
- NORTH and FORCE as possibly merged, as well as /w/ and /hw/ as possibly merged, leading to potential horse–hoarse and witch–which mergers.
Notable lifelong native speakers
- Saoirse Ronan – "the 'Dub' accent in which she speaks"
- Andrew Scott – "his soft-as-rain Dublin accent"
- Hickey (2007b:180)
- Hickey, Raymond (2015). Dublin English Archived 22 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine Irish English Resource Centre. University of Duisburg and Essen.
- Hickey, Raymond. A Sound Atlas of Irish English, Volume 1. Walter de Gruyter: 2004, pp. 57-60.
- de Gruyter 2004, pp. 91
- de Gruyter 2004, pp. 83–84
- Reynolds, Deirdre. "Lunch with Damien Dempsey: Ronnie Drew never watered down his accent – why should I?". Independent.ie. 2013.
- Hickey (2007:355)
- Hickey (2007:357)
- Hickey, Raymond. Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing: 2005, pp. 46-48
- Linehan, Hugh (2016). "Saoirse Ronan’s accent should not be a talking point". The Irish Times.
- Allfree, Claire. "Sherlock actor Andrew Scott: Tenderness is more interesting than blatant sexuality". Metro. 2010.