Forth and Bargy language
|Forth and Bargy, Forth and Bargy dialect|
|Extinct||1998, with the death of Jack Devereux|
|Revival||Attempted revival, with 140 L2 speakers (no date)|
|Glottolog||(insufficiently attested or not a distinct language)|
Yola, historically the Forth and Bargy dialect, is a dead Anglic language once spoken in the baronies of Forth and Bargy in County Wexford, Ireland. It is thought to have evolved from Middle English, which was brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion, beginning in 1169. As such, it was similar to the Fingallian dialect of the Fingal area. Both became functionally extinct in the 19th century, when they were replaced by modern Hiberno-English, although Yola was not officially extinct until the death of the last speaker, a local fisherman of Kilmore Quay named Jack Devereux in 1998. The name "Yola" means "old" in the language.
The language was spoken in County Wexford, particularly in the baronies of Forth and Bargy. This was the first area English-speakers came to in the Norman invasion of Ireland, supporting the theory that it evolved from the Middle English introduced in that period. As such it is thought to have been similar to Fingallian, which was spoken in the Fingal region north of Dublin. Middle English, the mother tongue of the "Old English" community, was widespread throughout southeastern Ireland until the 14th century; as the Old English were increasingly assimilated into Irish culture, their original language was gradually displaced through Gaelicisation. After this point, Yola and Fingallian were the only attested relicts of this original form of English.
Modern English was widely introduced by British colonists during and after the 17th century, forming the basis for the modern Hiberno-English of Ireland. The new varieties were notably distinct from the surviving relict dialects. As English continued to spread, both Yola and the Fingallian died out in the 19th century, though Yola continued to be used as a liturgical language by the churches of Wexford well into the 20th century, to this day the Kilmore Choir sings what were once Yola tunes, now anglicized.
The speech of Forth and Bargy was the only kind in Ireland included in Alexander John Ellis's work On Early English Pronunciation Volume V, which was the earliest survey of “dialects of English”. The phonetics of the language were taken from a local reverend.
As in the Dutch language, in southwestern varieties of English and (to a lesser extent) in German, most voiceless fricatives in Yola became voiced. The Middle English vowels are well-preserved, having only partially and sporadically undergone the changes associated with the Great Vowel Shift.
One striking characteristic of Yola was the fact that stress shifted to the second syllable of words in many instances: morsaale "morsel", hatcheat "hatchet", dineare "dinner", readeare "reader", weddeen "wedding", etc.
Yola pronouns were similar to Middle English pronouns.
|First Person||Second Person||Third Person|
|singular||plural||singular||plural used for singular:
polite or formal singular
|nom.||ich||wough, wee||thou||ye||ye||hea, he||shoo||*it||thye; hi|
|possessive||mee||oore, oor, oure, our||thee||yer||*yer||his||aar|
The definite article was at first a or ee, which was later replaced by the.
Yola verbs had some conservative characteristics. The second and third person plural endings were sometimes -eth as in Chaucerian English. The past participle retained the Middle English "y" prefix as "ee".
Some nouns retained the -en plural of ME children, such as been 'bees' and tren 'trees'.
The glossary compiled by Jacob Poole provides most of what is known about the Forth and Bargy vocabulary. Poole was a farmer and member of the Religious Society of Friends from Growtown in the Parish of Taghmon on the border between the baronies of Bargy and Shelmalier. He collected words and phrases from his tenants and farm labourers between 1800 and his death in 1827.
Although most of its vocabulary is Anglo-Saxon in origin, Yola contains many borrowings from Irish and French.
|English||Yola||Scots||West Frisian||Low German
fa (Doric Scots)
fit (Doric Scots)
fan (Doric Scots)
faur (Doric Scots)
fit wye (Doric Scots)
foo (Doric Scots)
|from||vrom/vrem/vreem||frae||fan||van, von, vun||van||von|
|through||trugh||throch||troch||dörch, dör, döör||door||durch|
Pronouns and determiners
|English||Forth and Bargy||Scots||Frisian||Low Saxon||Dutch||German|
|each, every||earchee, earch/erich/everich||ilk, ilka/ivery||eltse||elk, jeed/jeedeen||elk, ieder||jeder|
|none, nothing||noucht, nodhing||nane, nocht||nimmen, neat||nüms, nix||niemand, niets/niks||kein(e), nichts|
|this, that||dhicke, dhicka||this, that||dizze, dat||disse, dit, düsse, düt;||dit, deze, dat||dieser, diese, dieses;|
|English||Forth and Bargy||Scots||Frisian||Low Saxon||Dutch||German||Irish|
|land||loan, lhoan||laund||lân||Land||land||Land||talamh, tír|
|yourself||theezil||yersel||dysels||du sülvst/sülven||jezelf||du selbst [du zɛlpst], du selber||tú féin|
|the||a, ee||the||de, it||de, den, dat||de, het||der, die, das, des, dem, den||an, na|
|go||goe||gae/gang/gan||gean||gaan||gaan||gehen||dul (go), imeacht (go away), gabháil (go along)|
|fear||vear/egast||fear||frees||Forcht, Bang, Angst||vrees, angst||Furcht, Angst||eagla|
|old||yola, yole||auld||âld||oold, oll-||oud||alt||sean, seanda, aosta|
|2||twy, tywe, twee, twine, twyne||two||two||twa||zwei||twee|
|100||hunderth, hundreth, hindreth||hundred||hûndert||hundert||honderd|
Modern South Wexford English
Diarmaid Ó Muirithe travelled to South Wexford in 1978 to study the English spoken there. His informants ranged in age between 40 and 90. Among the long list of words still known or in use at that time are the following:
- Amain: ‘going on amain’ = getting on well
- Bolsker: an unfriendly person
- Chy: a little
- Drazed: threadbare
- Fash: confusion, in a fash
- Keek: to peep
- Saak: to sunbathe, to relax in front of the fire
- Quare: very, extremely
- Wor: seaweed
Amain is a Norman word which means 'of easy use'.
A Yola song
The following is a song in Yola with a rough translation into English.
A Yola Zong.
An Old Song.
Address to Lord Lieutenant in 1836
Congratulatory address in the dialect of Forth and Bargy, presented to the Earl of Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on his visit to Wexford in 1836. Taken from the Wexford Independent newspaper of 15 February 1860. The paper's editor Edmund Hore wrote:
The most remarkable fact, in reality, in connexion with the address is this. In all probability it was the first time regal or vice-regal ears were required to listen to words of such a dialect; and it is even still more probable that a like event will never happen again; for if the use of this old tongue dies out as fast for the next five-and-twenty years as it has for the same bygone period, it will be utterly extinct and forgotten before the present century shall have closed.
In order for a person not acquainted with the pronunciation of the dialect to form anything like an idea of it, it is first necessary to speak slowly, and remember that the letter a has invariably the same sound, like a in 'father.' Double ee sounds as e in 'me,' and most words of two syllables the long accent is placed on the last. To follow the English pronunciation completely deprives the dialect of its peculiarities.
To's Excellencie Constantine Harrie Phipps, y' Earle Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland. Ye soumissive Spakeen o'ouz Dwelleres o' Baronie Forthe, Weisforthe.
MAI'T BE PLEASANT TO TH' ECCELLENCIE, – Wee, Vassalès o' 'His Most Gracious Majesty', Wilyame ee Vourthe, an, az wee verilie chote, na coshe an loyale dwellerès na Baronie Forthe, crave na dicke luckie acte t'uck neicher th' Eccellencie, an na plaine garbe o' oure yola talke, wi vengem o' core t’gie oure zense o' y gradès whilke be ee-dighte wi yer name; and whilke we canna zei, albeit o' 'Governere,' 'Statesman,' an alike. Yn ercha an aul o' while yt beeth wi gleezom o' core th' oure eyen dwytheth apan ye Vigere o'dicke Zouvereine, Wilyame ee Vourthe, unnere fose fatherlie zwae oure daiez be ee-spant, az avare ye trad dicke londe yer name waz ee-kent var ee vriene o' livertie, an He fo brake ye neckarès o' zlaves. Mang ourzels – var wee dwytheth an Irelonde az ure generale haime – y'ast, bie ractzom o'honde, ee-delt t’ouz ye laas ee-mate var ercha vassale, ne'er dwythen na dicke waie nar dicka. Wee dwyth ye ane fose dais be gien var ee gudevare o'ye londe ye zwae, – t'avance pace an livertie, an, wi'oute vlynch, ee garde o' generale reights an poplare vartue. Ye pace – yea, we mai zei, ye vaste pace whilke bee ee-stent owr ye londe zince th'ast ee-cam, proo'th, y'at wee alane needeth ye giftes o’generale rights, az be displayte bie ee factes o'thie goveremente. Ye state na dicke daie o'ye londe, na whilke be nar fash nar moile, albiet 'constitutional agitation,' ye wake o'hopes ee-blighte, stampe na yer zwae be rare an lightzom. Yer name var zetch avancet avare ye, e’en a dicke var hye, arent whilke ye brine o'zea an ye craggès o'noghanes cazed nae balke. Na oure gladès ana whilke we dellt wi' mattoke, an zing t'oure caulès wi plou, wee hert ee zough o'ye colure o' pace na name o' Mulgrave. Wi Irishmen owre generale hopes be ee-bond – az Irishmen, an az dwellerès na cosh an loyale o' Baronie Forthe, w’oul daie an ercha daie, our meines an oure gurles, praie var long an happie zins, shorne o'lournagh an ee-vilt wi benisons, an yerzel an oure gude Zovereine, till ee zin o'oure daies be var aye be ee-go t'glade.
To his Excellency, Constantine Henry Phipps, Earl of Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant-General, and General Governor of Ireland. The humble Address of the Inhabitants of the Barony of Forth, Wexford.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY – We, the subjects of his Most Gracious Majesty, William IV., and, as we truly believe, both faithful and loyal inhabitants of the Barony of Forth, beg leave at this favourable opportunity to approach your Excellency, and in the simple dress of our old dialect to pour forth from the strength (or fulness) of our hearts, our sense (or admiration) of the qualities which characterise your name, and for which we have no words but of 'Governor,' 'Statesman,' &c. In each and every condition it is with joy of heart that our eyes rest upon the representative of that Sovereign, William IV., under whose paternal rule our days are spent; for before your foot pressed the soil, your name was known to us as the friend of liberty, and he who broke the fetters of the slave. Unto ourselves – for we look on Ireland to be our common country – you have with impartial hand ministered the laws made for every subject, without regard to this party or that. We behold in you one whose days are devoted to the welfare of the land you govern, to promote peace and liberty – the uncompromising guardian of the common right and public virtue. The peace – yes, we may say the profound peace – which overspreads the land since your arrival, proves that we alone stood in need of the enjoyment of common privileges, as is demonstrated by the results of your government. The condition, this day, of the country, in which is neither tumult nor disorder, but that constitutional agitation, the consequence of disappointed hopes, confirms your rule to be rare and enlightened. Your fame for such came before you even into this retired spot, to which neither the waters of the sea below nor the mountains above caused any impediment. In our valleys, where we were digging with the spade, or as we whistled to our horses in the plough, we heard the distant sonnd of the wings of the dove of peace, in the word Mulgrave. With Irishmen our common hopes are inseparably bound up – as Irishmen, and as inhabitants, faithful and loyal, of the Barony Forth, we will daily and every day, our wives and our children, implore long and happy days, free from melancholy and full of blessings, for yourself and our good Sovereign, until the sun of our lives be gone down the dark valley (of death).
"The maiden of Rosslare"
This following is a Yola poem from an original document containing accents to aid pronunciation;
Ee mýdhe ov Rosslaarè
The maiden of Rosslare
- ⟨ch⟩ is pronounced as tch, example ich (pronounced itch) ([tʃ])
- ⟨gh⟩ – a guttural sound the same as the ⟨gh⟩ in lough ([ɣ] or [x])
- ⟨eou⟩ (ɛu)
- ⟨oo⟩ (o as in boot) ([uː])
- ⟨ee⟩ (e as in bee) ([iː])
- ⟨aa⟩ (as in man but longer) ([aː])
- ⟨a⟩ is in "cat" ([a])
- ⟨á⟩ as in "father" ([ɑ])
- ⟨e⟩ as in "let" ([ɛ])
- ⟨é⟩ as in "may" ([e])
- ⟨i⟩ as in "bit" ([ɪ])
- ⟨í⟩ (ee) as in "bee" ([i])
- ⟨o⟩ as in "spot" ([ɔ])
- ⟨ó⟩ as in "boat" (cot–coat merger) ([o])
- ⟨u⟩ as in "boot", but shorter ([u])
- ⟨ú⟩ as in "boot' ([u])
- ⟨y⟩ as a mix between the i in spin and the ee in "bee' (possibly [ʏ])
- ⟨ý⟩ an oiy sound not in English ([ɑi])
- ⟨e⟩ at the end of a word is pronounced, but only short (examples: ross-laar-e (rosslaaré), moidh-e (mýdhe))
Revival and Usage after the mid 19th century
Though Yola ceased to be used as a means of daily communication post the mid 19th century, it continued to see significant usage as a liturgical language, and some personal usage within the linguist community of Ireland, such as Kathleen Browne’s letter to Ireland dated to April 10th 1893. County Wexford native Paddy Berry is oft noted for his condensed performances of the piece “A Yola Zong” which he has performed for various recordings, the latest of which was in 2017. Various Yola rhymes passed down from generation to generation can be heard spoken by a Wexford woman in a documentary recorded in 1969 on the present usage and rememberers of Yola in the former baronies of Forth and Bargy. Yola Farmstead, a community ran re-enactment of a Forth and Bargy village as it would have been during the 18th century, delivered a speech and performance of a song in Yola at their opening ceremony, featured Yola phrases in their advertisements, and hosted events where participants could learn some of the language from linguists and other experts on it. The Yola Farmstead also hosted a memorial event dedicated to Jack Devereux of the Kilmore Choir, which once used Yola extensively in their Christmas services. He was a preservationist of, and well-versed in Yola, locals considered him to be the last native speaker of the language, and at said memorial a rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, translated into Yola was read. The Yola Farm has since closed down but there have been efforts beginning in 2021 of reopening it. Wikitongues had also at one point released a video of a man named Ryan speaking in Yola, where he spoke of the history of the language in the tongue, and recited a letter in Yola, however this video has since been privatized at Ryan’s request. There also exists various groups online aimed at reviving the Yola language, on Facebook and other social platforms, despite this it seems apparent that no real attempts at creating a native speaking community of Yola have been made, with all present Yola speakers being L2 learners.
- "How many speakers of Yola are there now?". google. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- "Fascinating book on Yola dialect of Forth and Bargy". independent. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
- Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 238. ISBN 90-272-4895-8.
- Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 196–198. ISBN 90-272-4895-8.
- Hickey, Raymond (2002). A Source Book for Irish English. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9027237530.
- Ellis, A. J. (1889). On Early English Pronunciation, Part V. The existing phonology of English dialects compared with that of West Saxon speech. London: Truebner & Co. p. 67.
- Hickey, R. (1988). A lost Middle English dialect. Historical Dialectology: Regional and Social, 37, 235.
- O'Rahilly, T. F (1932). "The Accent in the English of South-east Wexford". Irish Dialects Past and Present. Dublin: Browne and Nolan. pp. 94–98. Reprinted 1972 by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, ISBN 0-901282-55-3.
- William Barnes, Jacob Poole: A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the Old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland. Formerly collected By Jacob Poole: And now edited, with some Introductory Observations, Additions from various sources, and Notes, By William Barnes. London, 1867
- ich is mentioned on p. 133
- ich, wough, ouse, hea, shoo, thye, aam; oor, yer (= your, but singular or plural?), aar (= there/their); meezil, theezil, himzil are in the glossary
- mee (possessive), thee (personal and possessive), ouse, oor & oore & our (possessive), he, shoo, it (objective), hi, aar (possessive), theezil (reflexive), aamzil (reflexive) occur in A Yola Zong (p. 84-92), mee (possessive), wough, ye (pl. nom.), our (possessive), hea, his (possessive), aar (possessive) in The Wedden o Ballymore (p. 93-98), ich, her in The Bride's Portion (p. 102f.), ich, mee (personal and possessive), ye (pl. nom.), hea & he, his (possessive), thye, aar (possessive) in Casteale Cudde's Lamentations (p. 102-105), hea, him, his (possessive), shoo, aam, aar (possessive) in a song recited by Tobias Butler (p. 108f.), wee, oure (possessive), ye (pl. for sg. obj.), yer (possessive, pl. for sg.), ourzels (reflexive), yersel (reflexive, pl. for sg.) in To's Excellencie Constantine Harrie Phipps (p. 114-117)
- Poole 1867, p.133.
- Jacob Poole of Growtown.
- Dolan, T. P.; D. Ó Muirithe (1996). The Dialect of Forth and Bargy Co. Wexford, Ireland. Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-200-3.
- Paddy Berry singing 'The Yola Hurling Song' (2017), retrieved 18 January 2022
- "Baronies Of Forth And Bargy". RTÉ Archives. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- "Kilmore Carols". RTÉ Archives. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- Dolan, T. P.; D. Ó Muirithe (1996). The Dialect of Forth and Bargy Co. Wexford, Ireland. Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-200-3.
- Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 90-272-4895-8.
- Hickey, Raymond (2002). A Source Book for Irish English (PDF). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 28–29. ISBN 90-272-3753-0.
ISBN 1-58811-209-8 (US)
- Ó Muirithe, Diarmaid (1977). "The Anglo-Norman and their English Dialect of South-East Wexford". The English Language in Ireland. Mercier Press. ISBN 0853424527.
- O'Rahilly, T. F (1932). "The Accent in the English of South-east Wexford". Irish Dialects Past and Present. Dublin: Browne and Nolan. pp. 94–98.
- Sullivan, Aidan (2018). Yola and the Yoles: Ireland's Living Old English Dialect. ISBN 978-1983196485.
- Poole's Glossary (1867) – Ed. Rev. William Barnes (Editorial 'Observations')
- Poole's Glossary (1979) – Ed. Dr. D. O'Muirithe & T.P. Dolan (Corrected Etymologies)
- “Gabble Ing Yola” A Yola revival resource center
- A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland. Formerly collected By Jacob Poole, of Growtown, Taghmon, County of Wexford: And now edited, with some Introductory Observations, Additions from various sources, and Notes, By William Barnes, B. D. Author of a Grammar of the Dorsetshire Dialect. London, 1867: Internet Archive, Google Books
- from RTE:
- Songs sung in the Yola language on RTE, i.e. archives (under Kilmore Christmas carols)
- Yola - Lost for Words - an RTE documentary by Shane Dunphy
- A People Apart In Wexford 1969 - an RTE television documentary
- Jacob Poole of Growtown — And the Yola Dialect