Skip to main content

Pre-R Dentalisation in northern England1


Dental pronunciation of alveolar consonants before /r/ and /ər/ is a well-known feature of traditional varieties of Irish English. This Pre-R Dentalisation (PreRD) has a number of intriguing linguistic properties, in particular an associated /r/-Realisation Effect and a Morpheme Boundary Constraint. It is less well known that PreRD is (or perhaps was) also a feature of a number of English varieties outside Ireland, particularly in traditional northern English dialects. This article analyses dialect data from northern England in order to determine the nature of PreRD there and its historical relations with the phenomenon in Irish English. In addition, it explores the phonological complexities of PreRD in light of the loss of rhoticity in traditional northern English dialects.

Hide All

I would like to thank Patrick Honeybone and two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on this article. Any remaining deficiencies are, of course, of my own making.

Hide All
Adams, G. Brendan. 1967. Northern England as a source of Ulster dialects. Ulster Folklife 13, 6974. Reprinted in Michael Barry and Philip Tilling (eds.), 1981, The English dialects of Ulster: An anthology of articles on Ulster speech by G. B. Adams, 33–6. Holywood, Co. Down: Ulster Folk & Transport Museum.
Barry, Michael (ed.). 1981. Aspects of English dialects in Ireland, vol. 1: Papers arising from the Tape-recorded Survey of Hiberno-English Speech. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies.
Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo & McMahon, April. 2006. English phonology and morphology. In Aarts, Bas & McMahon, April (eds.), The handbook of English linguistics, 382410. Oxford: Blackwell.
Brilioth, Börje. 1913. A grammar of the dialect of Lorton (Cumberland). London: Publications of the Philological Society.
Britain, David. 2005. Innovation diffusion: ‘Estuary English’ and local dialect differentiation: The survival of Fenland Englishes. Linguistics 43–5, 9951022.
Broderick, George. 1997. Manx English: an overview. In Tristram, Hildegard (ed.), The Celtic Englishes, 123–4. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter.
Corrigan, Karen. 2010. Irish English, vol. 1: Northern Ireland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Cowling, George Herbert. 1915. The dialect of Hackness (north-east Yorkshire). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dobson, E. J. 1957. English pronunciation 1500–1700. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Ellis, Alexander. 1869–89. On Early English pronunciation. New York: Greenwood Press.
Filppula, Markku. 1999. The grammar of Irish English: Language in Hibernian style. London and New York: Routledge.
Giegerich, Heinz. 1999. Lexical strata in English: Morphological causes, phonological effects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Grant, William & Murison, David. 1931–76. The Scottish national dictionary. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.
Gregg, Robert. 1964. Scotch-Irish urban speech in Ulster. In Brendan Adams, G. (ed.), Ulster dialects: An introductory symposium, 163–92. Holywood, Co. Down: Ulster Folk Museum.
Gregg, Robert. 1985. The Scotch-Irish dialect boundaries in the province of Ulster. Ottawa: K. G. Campbell Corporation.
Hargreaves, Alexander. 1904. A grammar of the dialect of Adlington (Lancashire). Heidelberg: Carl Winter's Universitätsbuchhandlung.
Harris, John. 1985. Phonological variation and change: Studies in Hiberno-English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harris, John. 1991. Conservatism versus substratal transfer in Irish English. In Trudgill, Peter & Chambers, J. K. (eds.) Dialects of English: Studies in grammatical variation, 191212. London and New York: Longman.
Harris, John. 2006. Wide-domain r-effects in English. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 18, 357–79.
Hedevind, Bertil. 1967. The dialect of Dentdale in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.
Henry, Patrick Leo. 1952. An Anglo-Irish dialect of north Roscommon. Zurich: Aschmann & Scheller.
Henry, Patrick Leo. 1958. A linguistic survey of Ireland. Preliminary report. Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap (Lochlann, A Review of Celtic Studies), Supplement 5, 49208.
Heselwood, Barry. 2009. R vocalisation, linking R and intrusive R: Accounting for final schwa in RP English. Transactions of the Philological Society 107 (1), 6697.
Hickey, Raymond. 2005. Dublin English: Evolution and change. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Hirst, Tom Oakes. 1906. A grammar of the dialect of Kendal (Westmorland). Heidelberg: Carl Winter's Universitätsbuchhandlung.
Jones, Mark & Llamas, Carmen. 2008. Fricated realisations of /t/ in Dublin and Middlesbrough English: An acoustic analysis of plosive frication and surface fricative contrasts. English Language and Linguistics 12, 419–43.
Kiparsky, Paul. 1976. Abstractness, opacity, and global rules. In Koutsoudas, Andreas (ed.), The ordering and application of rules, 160–84. The Hague: Mouton.
Kolb, Eduard. 1966. Phonological atlas of the northern region. Bern: Francke.
Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change, vol. 1: Internal factors. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Luick, Karl. 1964. Historische Grammatik der Englischen Sprache. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Lunny, A. 1981. Linguistic interaction: English and Irish in Ballyvourney, W. Cork. In Barry (ed.), 118–41.
Maguire, Warren. 2012. English and Scots in Scotland. To appear in Hickey, Raymond (ed.), Areal features of the anglophone world. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Mather, James & Speitel, Hans-Henning. 1986. The linguistic atlas of Scotland, Scots section, vol. 3: Phonology. Beckenham: Croom Helm.
Nally, Eamonn. 1971. Notes on a Westmeath dialect. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 1 (1), 33–8.
Ní Ghallchóir, Caitríona. 1981. Aspects of bilingualism in north west Donegal. In Barry (ed.), 142–70.
Ó Baoill, Dónall. 1991. Contact phenomena in the phonology of Irish and English in Ireland. In Sture Ureland, P. & Broderick, George (eds.), Language contact in the British Isles, 581–95. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.
Ó hÚrdail, Roibeárd. 1997. Confusion of dentality and alveolarity in dialects of Hiberno-English. In Kallen, Jeffrey (ed.), Focus on Ireland, 133–52. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Ó Muirithe, Diarmaid. 1996. A modern glossary of Forth and Bargy. In Dolan, T. P. (ed.), The dialect of Forth and Bargy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, 1730. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
Orton, Harold. 1933. The phonology of a south Durham dialect: descriptive, historical and comparative. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.
Orton, Harold & Dieth, Eugen (eds.). 1962–71. Survey of English Dialects (B): The basic material. Leeds: Arnold & Son.
Orton, Harold, Sanderson, Stewart & Widdowson, John (eds.). 1978 The linguistic atlas of England. London: Routledge.
Ó Siadhail, Mícheál. 1989. Modern Irish: Grammatical structure and dialectal variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Oxley, James. 1940. The Lindsey dialect. Kendal: Titus William.
Reaney, Percy. 1927. A grammar of the dialect of Penrith (Cumberland). Manchester: University of Manchester Press.
Rydland, Kurt. 1982. Vowel systems and lexical-phonemic patterns in south-east Cumbria: A study in structural dialectology. Bergen: Steens Offset.
Rydland, Kurt. 1998. The Orton Corpus: A dictionary of Northumbrian pronunciation, 1928–1939. Oslo: Novus Press.
Schilling, Karl Georg. 1906. A grammar of the dialect of Oldham (Lancashire). Darmstadt: G. Otto's Hof-Buchdruckerei.
Shorrocks, Graham. 1998. A grammar of the dialect of the Bolton area, part 1: Introduction, phonology. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Shuken, Cynthia. 1984. Highland and Island English. In Trudgill, Peter (ed.), Language in the British Isles, 1st edition, 152–66. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tidholm, Hans. 1979. The dialect of Egton in North Yorkshire. Göteborg: Bokmaskinen.
Trudgill, Peter. 2004. New-dialect formation: The inevitability of colonial Englishes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Wells, John. 1982. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wright, Joseph. 1892. A grammar of the dialect of Windhill in the West Riding of Yorkshire. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.
Wright, Joseph. 1905. The English dialect grammar. Oxford: Henry Frowde.
Millennium memory bank,, accessed 28/08/12
Sounds Familiar?,, accessed 28/08/12
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed