Ulster is the only area outwith Scotland where spoken Scots has survived. Scots in Ulster has been under the same linguistic pressure as Scots in Scotland. Wholescale Scots migration to Ulster started in the early seventeenth century. Scots settled in the northern half of the Ards Peninsula spreading at first through Newtonards and Comber and then across the northern half of Down. Scots also settled from Island Magee to Glenarm and in the west as far as Antrim town and in the North at Ballymoney. Ulster Scots is on the whole a variant of West Central Scots. Ulster Scots is spoken by both Protestants and Catholics.
Ulster Scots is subdivided into:
Western Ulster Scots in County Derry and Donegal Central Ulster scots in County Antrim Eastern Ulster scots in County Down and The Ards
In some areas an Irish substrate may result in <d> (/d/) before <r> being pronounced interdentally, almost like 'dh'. A <t> (/t/) may also be pronounced interdentally like 'tth'. In other areas it may be glottalised between vowels and finally in words like beast and juist etc., <f> (/f/) may be a bilabial /ɸ/ and <v> (/v/) may be /β/ like the <b> in Spanish habana.
Medial and final <ch> is usually /x/ in words such as bocht, loch and nicht.
Initial <ch> is usually /ʧ/ in words such as chap, chield, chirl and chowk.
The cluster <nch> is usually /nʃ/ in words such as brainch, clinch, dunch, hainch, inch and French.
The trigraph <tch> is usually /ʧ/ in words such as fleetch and wratch.
The trigraph <dge> is usually /ʤ/ in words such begrudge, cadge, cruldge and fadge.
The graphemes <g> and <ge> are occasionally /ʤ/ in words such as breinge and gigot.
Medial and final <ld> may be simplified to /l/ in words such as auld, bield, cauld and fauld.
Medial and final <nd> may be simplified to /n/ in words such as baund, daunder, find, haund and sindry.
The digraph <ng> is usually /ŋ/ in words such as finger, hing, ingan and single.
The digraph <nk> is usually /ŋk/ in words such as bink and hank.
The digraph <qu> is usually /kw/ in words such as acquent, quair and queen.
The digraph <sh> is usually /ʃ/ in words such as creash and sheep. Occasionally that is /ʒ/ in words such as fushion and pushion.
The digraph <th> is usually /θ/ in words such as graith, thole and thrawn and /ð/ in words such as blether, thaim, thair and the. However, medially it may be elided or pronounced interdentally, almost like 'tth', before <er>.
The digraph <wh> is usually /ʍ/ in words such as wha, whan, wheech and wheel.
Vowels and Diphthongs
Vowels in unstressed positions are usually /ə/ in words such as aboot, the, oxter, duntit, bannock and smeddum.
Initial <a> is /ə/ in words such as ahint and awa etc.
The grapheme <a> is usually /ɑ/ in eastern dialects, /a/ in central and western dialects, and generally /ɛ/ before or after /k/ and before /g/ and /ŋ/, in words such as aff, lang, mak, wash and watch.
Final <a> is usually /ɔ:/ or /ɑ:/ in eastern and central dialects and /a:/ in western dialects, in words such as awa, twa and wha.
Initial and medial <au> is usually /ɔ:/ or /ɑ:/ in eastern and central dialects and /a:/ in western dialects, in words such as haund, saund and slauchter, however, before <ld> that may be /ʌu/, in words such as auld, cauld, fauld and scauld.
Final <aw> is usually /ɔ:/ or /ɑ:/ in eastern and central dialects and /a:/ in western dialects, in words such as aw, blaw, caw, draw, faw, gaw, haw, gnaw, slaw, snaw and staw. That occasionally occurs word initial or medial in, for example, awn, awfu, bawbee, bawsant.
Initial and medial <ai> is usually /e/, sometimes /ɛ:/ before <r>, in words such as aik, aiple, aith, ait, braid, craitur, fain, gaither, graith, haimer and laim.
The cluster <a-e> is usually /e/, sometimes /ɛ:/ before <r>, in words such as face, gate, hame and Pace, however initially that may be /jɪ/ or /jɪ̞/ in Antrim and /e/ in Donegal, in ane and ance.
The digraph <ae> is usually /e/ in words such as brae, f(r)ae, gae, sae, tae n. and wae, however, ae may be /je/.
Final <ae> is /e:/ in Mid Antrim, North Ards and parts of Co. Down, North Antrim and points in north east Londonderry and /i:/ in Co. Donegal, Mid Ards and west of Strangford Lough Co. Down, in words such as adae, dae, shae and tae v.,
Medial <ae> is /ɪ/ in Mid Antrim, North Ards and parts of Co. Down, /e:/ in North Antrim and points in north east Londonderry and /i:/ in Co. Donegal, Mid Ards and west of Strangford Lough Co. Down, in words such as daes (dis), daesna (disna), daena (dinna)
The digraph <ay> is usually /e/ in words such as day, gray and lay.
The digraph <ea> is usually /e/ in words such as beast, cheap, deave, east, heap, hear, meat, ream, sea and tea. In a few words it may be /i/, for example deave or /ɛ:/ before <r>.
The digraph <ee> is usually /i/ in words such as dee, dree, eetem, freet, jeely, keep, meet, teeth, weel and weet.
The digraph <ei> is usually /i/, it may be /ɪ̞/ in Antrim or /ɛ̈/, especially in Donegal, in words such as beir, deid, heid, meidae, peir, spreid, teir and threid but /e:/ in bleize, eleiven, screich and seiven. Before /x/, <ei> is /i/ in words such as dreich, heich and skeich.
The digraph <ie> is usually /i/ in words such as bield, chield, scrieve and shielin.
The grapheme <e> is usually /ɛ:/ in words such as bed, ebb, esh, fecht, gled, gless, seck and wecht.
The grapheme <i> is usually /ɪ/, also /ï/ in Antrim and /ɛ̈/, especially in Donegal, in words such as drink, in, inch, lift, licht, pit, rin, simmer, sin and stibble. After /w/ and /ʍ/ <i> is often /ʌ/ in words such as whin, whisper, whit, wid, wind, wir, wird, wirm and wittins.
The grapheme <o> is usually /o/, however, it may be /ɔ/, especially before <ch> in words such as boss, box, cod, common, dochter, on, rock and thocht.
The digraph <oa> is usually /o/, occasionally /ɔ/, in words such as boat, coal, and hoast.
The digraph <oo> is usually /u/, occasionally /y/, in words such as aboot, coont, droop, hoose, moose, oot, scoor and soond.
The digraph <ou> is usually /u/, occasionally /y/, in words such as allou, bouk, broun, cour, coum, doun, dout, poupit and thoum.
The cluster <u-e> is usually /u/, occasionally /y/, in words such as dule and hure.
The grapheme <u> is usually /ʌ/ in words such as bund, burn, drunken, fund, grund, truff, unce and wund.
Initial <ui> in usually /ju/ in words such as uise and uiss, otherwise /e:/, or /ɛ:/ before <r>, in North Antrim and points in north east Londonderry and /i:/ in Co. Donegal, Mid Ards and west of Strangford Lough Co. Down. In Mid Antrim, North Ards and parts of Co. Down it is /ɪ/ in short environments and /e:/, or /ɛ:/ before <r>, in long environments in words such as abuin, abuise, bluid, bruit, buird, duin, fluir, fruit, fuird, luif, luim, muin, muir, muisic, ruise, spuin, shuir and Yuil.
The digraph <eu> is usually /(j)ʌ/ in words such as beuch, beuk, eneuch, leuch, leuk, heuk, neuk, sheuch, teuch and teug.
The digraph <ew> is usually /ju/ in words such as dew, few, new and spew.
The culsters <i-e> and <y-e> are usually /ɛi/ or /ɑe/ in words such as advice, bide, byle, fire, fine, ile, rive and tyne, however, after /w/ and /ʍ/ it may be /aɪ/ in words such as ice, wine, while, white and wyte.
The graphemes <ey>, <y> and <ye> are usually /əi/, or /ɑe/ and /ɛi/, after /w/ and /ʍ/ they may be /aɪ/, in words such as cry, eyntment, eyster, fley, kye, wey, whey and why.
The digraphs <oi> and <oy> are usually /oi/ in words such as Boid, foy, noise and ploy.
Initial and medial <ow> is usually /ʌu/, but it may be /o:/, especially before /k/, in words such as bowk, bowt, cowp, cowt, gowd, gowf, gowpen, howk, lowp and owsen, Root final that is <owe> in words such as flowe, glowe, growe, howe, knowe, lowe, rowe and towe.
Strictly speaking not a suffix, <ae> is usually /e/, however, depending on stress, it may be /ɪ/ and /ɛ/ in words such as Americae, airae, barrae, nairae, swallae and windae.
Diminutive <ie> is usually /e/ in words such as grannie, laddie, lassie, shappie and wifie.
Adjectival <fu> is usually /fu/ in words such as awfu, carefu and mensefu.
The negative particle <na> is usually /ne/ in words such as daena (dinna), haesna, maunna, winna and wisna.
Adverbial and adjectival <y> and <ie> are usually /e/ in words such as reekie, sairy, stany and stourie.
Adverbial <ly> is usually /le/ in words such as brawly, feckly, fully, geyly, likely and uncoly.
Milroy, James (1982) "Some connections
between Galloway and Ulster speech", Scottish
Language 1, 23-29.
Fenton, James (1995, 2000) The Hamely Tongue. A Personal
Record of Ulster-Scots in County Antrim, 2nd edn.
Gregg, Robert (1958,1959) "Notes on the phonology of a County Antrim Scotch-Irish dialect", Orbis 7:2, 392-406; 8:2, 400-424. Gregg, Robert (1972) "The Scotch-Irish dialect boundaries in Ulster" in Martyn Wakelin ed. Patterns in the Folk Speech of the British Isles, London: Athlone, 109-139.
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