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Saturday 18 October, 2008

10.45 Registration (MCMS Library at Ulster-American Folk Park, Omagh)

Tea / Coffee on arrival

11.00 Welcome (MCMS Library)

11.05 Karen Corrigan, ‘The Empire Speaks Back: Irish-English as a Product of Plantation’ - SEE BELOW


Chair: Sir Peter Froggatt

12.00 Discussion

12.30 Lunch (Visitor Centre)


1.30 Walk in the Outdoor Museum:

‘Contrasting Old and New World Accents and Dialects’

2.30 Patrick Fitzgerald, ‘Illustrating Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007

3.00 Afternoon Tea (Library)


3.15 Brian Lambkin, ‘Illustrating Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007, continued’

3.45 Book Launch: Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

4.15 Reception

4.45 Close


Fee : £20.00 stg (£15.00 concession for students, unwaged and senior citizens)

Includes: registration, morning tea/coffee, lunch, afternoon

tea/coffee and drinks reception.



Tel: 028 8225 6315; Fax: 028 8224 2241; Email:


The Empire Speaks Back: Irish-English as a Product of Plantation

 Professor Karen Corrigan, Newcastle University, UK.


There has been a resurgence of interest in dialects of English within academia & outside it. The former is due to a greater focus on dialect differences within linguistic theory. It may also result from the wider availability of resources like: & Popular interest has been encouraged by BBC ‘Voices’ ( as well as a renewed political focus on the regions. There has also been pressure to recognise the validity of non-native (including post-colonial) Englishes & their literatures. The demands of these diverse audiences have been met by popular books, like Mc Bride (1993), & authoritative works such as Kortmann et al., (2004). However, in-depth, current research on specific regions in the British Isles remains rare. My new research project, which is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, focuses therefore on Northern Irish English (NIrE). Like Welsh English and Highland English in Scotland, it was initially learned as a second language. My talk will demonstrate that this scenario arose from the region’s colonization by speakers of English/Scots dialects, beginning in the Middle Ages & reaching a peak during what is termed ‘The Plantation Period’ of Irish history. James I initiated this & he intended to ‘plant’ Protestants in Ulster to quell indigenous Irish rebellions. From 1605-1697, around 200,000 migrated from Scotland, continuing a tradition of migration between the regions that had already endured for generations. The scheme also persuaded English settlers to colonize, hailing from urban centres like London as well as more rural areas like Norfolk. The greatest numbers by far, though, migrated from the NW Midlands. This intensive colonization process created the possibility that a unique type of English could emerge. This new variety is characterized by: (i) novel forms; (ii) the incorporation of features drawn from Irish & (iii) others caused by the mixing of Irish with the Scots/English dialects of the new settlers. Interestingly (and not uncommonly when migratory movements of these kinds arise), modern varieties of NIrE still retain this mixed heritage. Although native speakers are often not aware of it, the unusual genesis of this English dialect permeates all aspects of speech (accent, grammar and vocabulary) used within local communities. Moreover, many of these features have travelled to regions that have been intensively settled post-colonization by Northern Irish migrants. Hence, this talk will also mention the importance of NIrE as a ‘transported dialect’.




Kortmann, Bernd and Edgar W. Schneider (eds.). A Handbook of Varieties of English. A Multimedia Reference Tool. Volumes 1 & 2. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter

McBride, D. (1993) Speakin’ Norn Iron As She Should Be Spoke. Banbridge: Adare Press.


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