The origins of epenthesis in liquid+sonorant clusters in Mid-Ulster English

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Abstract

Epenthesis in liquid+sonorant clusters is a well known feature of Irish English, almost universally assumed to be the result of contact with Irish, which has extensive epenthesis. However, epenthesis was (and still is to a degree) common in English and Scots in Britain, specifically in liquid+sonorant clusters in stem‐level codas. This paper examines epenthesis in Mid‐Ulster English (MUE), comparing it to epenthesis in Irish, English and Scots. This comparison reveals that epenthesis in MUE is essentially identical to epenthesis in English and Scots, diachronically and synchronically, and is not very like epenthesis in Irish. At most, Irish played a reinforcing role in the development of epenthesis in MUE. That this most `Irish‐like’ of features of this Irish English dialect is not of Irish origin has important consequences for our understanding of the historical phonology of MUE and other Irish English dialects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-508
JournalTransactions of the philological society
Volume116
Issue number3
Early online date29 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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