Differences between Irish English and UK English

Spoken English has a long and rich history. It varies greatly from region to region – both in areas where it is the predominant language and in areas where it is a secondary language.

In regions where English is the secondary language, speakers tend to carry over the intonation and phonetics of their mother tongue into English speech, while in regions where English is the primary language, people often show a variability through different accents.

To a layman, Ireland and the UK may seem similar in many ways but the truth is that these two countries couldn’t be more unique. Although most of the Irish population does speak English, the English used in Ireland is very different to UK English. There are three main areas in which they differ:

  1. Grammar
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Parts of speech or usage

1. Vocabulary

There are many interesting differences in the vocabulary of the two versions of English. For example, a cupboard in UK English is referred to as a press in Ireland. Some of the other examples are as follows:

UK English – Irish English

Bacon – Rashers

Pencil sharpener – Pencil pairer

Airing cupboard – Hot press

Trainers – Runners

Police – Gardai

2. Grammar

As Gaelic has no word for ‘yes’ or ‘no’, questions are answered using the same verb that was present in the question. Hence, when an Irish person answers a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, they would use the same verb. For example,

“Do you have a pen?”

“I do.”

“Did you watch the movie?”

“We did.”

“You don’t have college next week”

“Do I not?”

Irish English also has repeats adverbs for emphasis or to make the action stronger. For example,

“He was a very, very handsome man, so he was”

“We had a big, beast of a session last weekend.”

3. Usage

Another peculiar distinction is the usage of the words ‘on me’. In Gaelic, things happen on you and not with you. For example,

“My laptop is after breaking/dying on me.”

4. Pronunciation

Each country definitely has its own slang, which is also the case in these two regions. As Ireland is a bilingual country, the English spoken there has been greatly influenced by Gaelic and so can come across as strikingly different. One form this takes is the difference in the way the Irish pronounce ‘th’. The British pride themselves in retaining the purest pronunciation of ‘th’ while in Ireland, ‘th’ is pronounced as ‘d’. This shortened pronunciation adds to the faster pace of conversation in Irish English.

Conclusion

While Ireland and the UK may not be the largest nations in the world, each country easily supports at least 20 dialects or regional accents which strongly influence sentence structure, pace and vernacular.

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