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John (
Posted on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 06:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia Duit

I, like so many out there, I love to listen to the Irish accent...however I have noticed that the accent is "thicker" in different parts of country. Being from the United States I know how different parts of the country can sound different from region to region, so I was wondering if there is someone here who can tell me about the different accents.

There is a site on the web that tries to help young performers with the Irish accent but goes into detail about how the accent in the movies is more of a "stereotype" accent and is not a very good representation of the accent. Is this true...I mean the people in the movies always sound Irish to me. Are they really doing a bad job of it?

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Seosamh ( -
Posted on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 06:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Once I was talking with a woman at work about a TV program we had both. She mentioned the main "Irish" character and said she had liked her accent. I told her that I didn't think she was Irish. It seemed like a mix of stage Irish and a Northern Irish accent -- the character in the story was from Cork in the south.

Where is the website you mention? All I can say is listen carefully to Irish people and note the features of their English. Find out where they are from in Ireland, of course. Learning to speak Irish will help.

There's a great diversity of accents, most of it the result of the switch from Irish to English. Some of it is a matter of class differences, as well as regional and country vs. city. There is the same pressure toward homogenization that you would find just about anywhere in the world: the school system, radio, TV, internationalization of business, entertainment, etc.

Irish English is particularly vulnerable because other forms of English are paramount in the media. A writer in one of the Irish-language papers described Irish English as "a language that is dying faster than Irish Gaelic".

It was mentioned elsewhere in this forum a while back that Irish people of school age are starting to abandon the purer vowels of Irish Gaelic origin in favor of their more complicated British/American equivalents. I think the vowels are a particularly important element in learning an Irish accent. But they don't seem to bother much with the vowels when coaching actors.

Two friends of mine have played host to families from Ireland with kids over the last year. In one case, the youngest child -- about first year of primary school and from an urban middle-class family near Dublin -- had an accent that was so American that my friend remarked on it. "Oh yes, they said. We call him 'the Yank'. But many of the children in his class speak that way." The other friend spent a lot of time with a working-class kid from a town in Northern Ireland. His local variety of English was so different from ours that my friend sometimes could not understand him.

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