Forth and Bargy dialect

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Forth and Bargy dialect
Native to Ireland
Region County Wexford
Extinct Mid-19th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yol
Glottolog (insufficiently attested or not a distinct language)
Linguasphere 52-ABA-bd

The Forth and Bargy dialect, also known as Yola, is an extinct variety of English 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 extinct in the 19th century, when they were replaced by modern Hiberno-English. The name "Yola" means "old" in the dialect.[2]

Yola hut refurbished in Tagoat, Co. Wexford, Ireland



The dialect 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 the dialect 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, the Forth and Bargy dialect and Fingallian were the only attested relicts of this original form of English.[3][4]

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.[3][4] As English continued to spread, both the Forth and Bargy dialect and the Fingal dialect died out in the 19th century.


As in the Dutch language, in southwestern varieties of English and (to a lesser extent) in German, most voiceless fricatives in Forth and Bargy became voiced. The Middle English vowels are well-preserved, with no evidence of the Great Vowel Shift.

One striking characteristic of Forth and Bargy 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.[5]



Forth and Bargy pronouns were similar to Middle English pronouns.[6]

First and Second Person
First Person Second Person Third Person
singular plural singular plural singular plural
nom. Ich wough/wee thou ye hea, shoo, ? thye
acc. me ouse thee ye him, her, it aam
gen. mee oure yer yer aar


The definite article was at first a, which was later replaced by the.


Forth and Bargy 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".[6]


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 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.[7] 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, Forth and Bargy contains many borrowings from Irish and French.

Interrogative words
English Forth and Bargy Scots Frisian Low Saxon Dutch German
who fho wha
fa in Doric Scots
wa wel/wokeen wie wer
what fade whit
fit in Doric Scots
wat wat wat was
when fan whan
fan in Doric Scots
wannear wanneer wanneer wann
where fidi whaur
faur in Doric Scots
wêr wo/woneem waar wo
why farthoo why
fy in Doric Scots
wêrom worüm waarom warum
which wich whilk hokker welk welk welche
how fowe hou hoe wo/woans hoe wie
English Forth and Bargy Scots Frisian Low Saxon Dutch German
about abut aboot om/rûn üm/rund om/rond um/rund
above aboo abuin boppe baven boven über
against ayenst agin tsjin gegen tegen gegen
among amang amang ûnder/tusken mang/twüschen onder/tussen unter/zwischen
around arent aroond om üm om/rond um
at/by adh/bee at/bi by bi om/bij bei
before avar afore foar vöör voor vor
below/beneath/under aloghe ablo/anaith/unner ûnder (to)neddern/nedder, ünnen/ünner beneden/onder unten/unter
beside/next to besithe/neeshte asyd/neist nêst/njonken blangen/neven naast neben
between/betwixt/'twixt betweesk/beteesh atwein/atweish tusken twüschen tussen zwischen
for vor for foar för voor für
from vrom/vrem/vreem frae fan vun van von
in i/ing in/i' yn in in in
out ut/udh oot út uut uit aus
over ower/oer ower oer över over über
through trugh throu troch döör door durch
upon apan/pa upon/upo' op op op auf
with wee wi mei mit met mit
English Forth and Bargy Scots Frisian Low Saxon Dutch German
all aul aw/aa al all al alle
any aany/aught onie elts enig enig, eender einige
each, every earchee, earch/erich/everich ilk, ilka/iverie eltse elk, jeed/jeedeen elk, ieder jeder
few vew few/a whein min wenig weinig wenig
neither nother naither noch noch noch weder
none, nothing noucht, nodhing nane, nocht nimmen, neat nüms, nix niemand, niets/niks niemand, nichts
other ooree/oree ither oar anner ander, andere andere
some zim sum guon welke sommige einige
this, that dhicke, dhicka this, that dizze, dat dit, düsse, dat dit, deze, dat dieser, das(s)
Other words
English Forth and Bargy Scots Frisian Low Saxon Dutch German Irish
Wexford Weisforthe Wexford "Wexford" "Wexford" "Wexford"
(lit. "West-voorde")
"Wexford" Loch Garman
sun zin sun sinne Sünn zon Sonne [zɔnə] Grian
land loan, lhoan land lân Land land Land Talamh
day dei, die day dei Dag dag Tag
yourself theezil yersel dysels du sülvst/sülven jezelf du selbst [du zɛlpst], du selber tú féin
friend vriene frein freon Fründ vriend Freund Cara
the a, ee the de, it de, den, dat de, het die, der, das, dem, den, des an, na
thing dhing thing ting Ding ding Ding rud, ní
go ee-go gae/gang/gan gean gaan gaan gehen dul (go), imeacht (go away)
fear vear fear frees Forcht, Bang, Angst vrees, angst Furcht, Angst eagla
old yola, yole auld âld oold, oll- oud alt sean, seanda, aosta
Cardinal numbers[8]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
oan twye/twyne dhree voure veeve zeese zeven ayght neen dhen

Modern South Wexford English[edit]

Traditional thatched cottage near Bannow Bay in Bargy
Yola farm refurbished in Tagoat, Co. Wexford, Ireland

Diarmaid Ó Muirithe travelled to South Wexford in 1978 to study the English spoken there.[9] 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' or 'Extremely'

Amain is a norman word which means 'of easy use'


A Forth and Bargy song[edit]

The following is a Forth and Bargy song, with a rough translation into English.

Yola Zong
Fade teil thee zo lournagh, co Joane, zo knaggee?
Th' weithest all curcagh, wafur, an cornee.
Lidge w'ouse an a milagh, tis gaay an louthee:
Huck nigher; y'art scuddeen; fartoo zo hachee?

Well, gosp, c'hull be zeid; mot thee fartoo, an fade;
Ha deight ouse var gabble, tell ee zin go t'glade.
Ch'am a stouk, an a donel; wou'll leigh out ee dey.
Th' valler w'speen here, th' lass ee chourch-hey.

Yerstey w'had a baree, gist ing oor hoane,
Aar gentrize ware bibbern, aamzil cou no stoane.
Yith Muzleare had ba hole, t'was mee Tommeen,
At by mizluck was ee-pit t'drive in.

Joud an moud vrem earchee ete was ee Lough.
Zitch vaperreen, an shimmereen, fan ee-daf ee aar scoth!
Zitch blakeen, an blayeen, fan ee ball was ee-drowe!
Chote well aar aim was t'yie ouz n'eer a blowe.

Mot w'all aar boust, hi soon was ee-teight
At aar errone was var ameing 'ar 'ngish ee-height.
Zitch vezzeen, tarvizzeen, 'tell than w'ne'er zey.
Nore zichel ne'er well, nowe, nore ne'er mey.

(There are nine more verses).

An Old Song
What ails you so melancholy, quoth John, so cross?
You seem all snappish, uneasy, and fretful.
Lie with us on the clover, 'tis fair and sheltered:
Come nearer; you're rubbing your back; why so ill tempered?

Well, gossip, it shall be said; you ask what ails me, & for what;
You have put us in talk, till the sun goes to set.
I am a fool, and a dunce; we'll idle out the day.
The more we spend here, the less in the churchyard.

Yesterday we had a goal, just in our hand.
Their gentry were quaking, themselves could not stand.
If Good-for-little had been buried, it had been my Tommy,
Who by misluck was placed to drive in.

Throngs and crowds from each quarter were at the Lough;
Such vapouring, and shimmering, when stript in their shirts!
Such bawling, and shouting, when the ball was thrown!
I saw their aim was to give us ne'er a stroke.

But with all their bravado, they soon were taught
That their errand was aiming to bring anguish upon them.
Such driving, struggling, 'till then we ne'er saw.
Nor such never will, no, nor never may.

Address to Lord Lieutenant in 1836[edit]

Congratulatory address in the dialect of Forth and Bargy, presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland the Earl of Mulgrave Constantine Henry Phipps on his visit to Wexford in 1836 taken from the Wexford Independent newspaper of 15 February 1860. The paper's editor Mr Edmund Hore writes:

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 word of such a dialect; an 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 like 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 PLESANT TO TH’ECCELLENCIE, – Wee, Vassalès o’ ‘His Most Gracious majesty’, Wilyame ee Vourthe, an, az wee verilie chote, na coshe and loyale dwellerès na Baronie Forthe, crave na dicke luckie acte t’uck neicher th’ Eccellencie, an na plaine grabe o’ oure yola talke, wi vengem o’ core t’gie ours zense o’ y gradès whilke be ee-dighte wi yer name; and whilke we canna zei, albeit o’ ‘Governere’, ‘Statesman’, an alike. Yn ercha and 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 diaez be ee-spant, az avare ye trad dicke londe yer name waz ee-kent var ee vriene o’ livertie, an He fo brake ye neckares o’ zlaves. Mang ourzels – var wee dwytheth an Irelonde az ure genreale haim – 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 guidevare 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 vast 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 displayth bie ee factes o’thie goveremente. Ye state na dicke daie o’ye londe, na whilke be nar fash nar moile, albeit ‘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 dye 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 ower generale houpes be ee-boud – 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 yersel and oure gude Zovereine, till ee zin o’oure daies be var aye be ee-go to’glade.

Standard English Translation

To his Excellency, Constantine Henry Phipps, the 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 verily 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’, etc. In each and every condition it is with joy of heart that our eyes rest upon the representative of the 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 sound 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"[edit]

This following is a Yola poem containing correct spelling and accents from an original document;

Ee mýdhe ov Rosslaarè
'Cham góeen to tell thee óa taale at is drúe
Aar is ing Rosslaarè óa mýdhe geoudè an drúe
Shoo wearth ing her haté óa ribbonè at is blúe
An shoo goeth to ee faaythè earchee deie too
Ich meezil bee ing ee faaythè éarchee deie zoo
At ich zee dhicka mýdhe fhó is geoudè an drúe
An ich bee to ishólthè ee mýdhe, ee mýdhe at is drúe
An fhó coome to ee faaythè wi' ribbonè blue
'Chull meezil góe to Rosslaaré earche deie too
to zie thaar ee mydhe wee her ribbonè blúe
An 'chull her estólté vor her ribbonè blúe
ee mýdhe at is lyghtzóm, an well wytheen an drúe
Ich loove ee mýdhe wee ee ribbonè blúe
At coome to ee faaythè éarchee arichè too
Fan 'cham ing ee faaythè éarchee arichè too
To estóthè mýdhe wee ee ribbons blúe

The maiden of Rosslare
I'm going to tell you a tale that is true
there is in Rosslare a maid good and true
she wears in her hat a ribbon that is blue
and she goes to the faythe every day too
I myself am in the faythe every day so
that I see this maid who is good and true
and I go to meet the made, the made that is true
and who comes to the faythe with ribbons blue
I myself will go to Rosslare every day too
to see there the made with her ribbons blue
And I will meet her for her ribbons blue
the made that is enlightened and good looking and true
I love the made with the ribbons blue
that comes to the faythe every morning too
when I'm in the faythe every morning too
to meet the made with the ribbons blue

A guide for pronunciation

ch and ck are pronounced as tch, example ich (pronounced itch) dhicke pronounced dhitch-eh) ([tʃ]) gh - a guttural sound the same as the gh in lough ([ɣ])

eou (jow/yow) oo (o as in boot) ([uː]) ee (e as in bee) ([iː]) aa (as in man but longer) ([aː])

a is in "cat" ([æ]), á as in "father" ([a]) 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" ([o]), u as in "but" ([ʌ]), ú as in "boot" ([u]), y as a mix between the in spin and the ee in bee (possibly [ʏ]), ý an oiy sound not in english (possibly [y]). speak slowly to find correct pronunciation, e's after words are pronounced (examples :ross-laar-ay(rosslaaré), moidh-eh(mýdhe))

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yola". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 238. ISBN 90-272-4895-8. 
  3. ^ a b Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 196–198. ISBN 90-272-4895-8. 
  4. ^ a b Hickey, Raymond (2002). A Source Book for Irish English. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9027237530. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Poole 1867, p.133.
  7. ^ Jacob Poole of Growtown.
  8. ^ Compare Dorset dialect one, two, dree, vower, vive, zix, zeven, aïght, nine, ten.
  9. ^ Dolan, T. P.; D. Ó Muirithe (1996). The Dialect of Forth and Bargy Co. Wexford, Ireland. Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-200-3. 


  • 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. 
  • Poole's Glossary (1867) – Ed. Rev. William Barnes (Editorial 'Observations')
  • Poole's Glossary (1979) – Ed. Dr. D. O'Muirithe & T.P. Dolan (Corrected Etymologies)

External links[edit]