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date: 20 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article investigates English in Ireland in order to identify the factors involved in the relationship between language and social change, based on the idea that a linguistic change is a social change and social change is always embedded in language. This unique example of linguistic and social change has been shaped by colonialism and the responses to it. Nevertheless, a discussion of the Irish case will allow for an assessment of the complexity of the linguistic situation in Ireland, as well as the identification of factors which may have a key role in other cases of linguistic change such as legal prescription and proscription, economics and cultural hegemony. The article examines Irish polyglossia, the Gaelicization of the invaders and the eclipse of the English language between 1200 and 1537, and policy and practice with respect to Anglicization in 1537–1800. It also looks at the demise of the Irish language and the consolidation, spread, and hegemony of English between 1800 and 1922.

Keywords: English, Ireland, Irish language, linguistic change, social change, colonialism, polyglossia, Anglicization

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