Dania Jovanna Bonness University of Bergen “’How is her eyes [?] are they still closed [?]’ Subject-verb agreement in nineteenth-century Irish English.”


This article examines the development of the Northern Subject Rule in nineteenth century Irish English by using emigrant letters. In contrast to other investigations on this specific concord pattern, the present study focuses solely on the high-frequency verb be. It shows that the Northern Subject Rule pattern was solid in this context in nineteenth-century Ulster English, especially Mid-Ulster English, thus supporting an earlier claim that it had been transported to Ulster by Scots and northern English founder populations, rather than having diffused from Ulster-Scots settlement areas. In Southern Irish English, the data show the presence of a Type of Subject Constraint, but no Proximity of Subject Constraint. This study contributes to research on the development of Irish English as well as on concord patterns in World Englishes.

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