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Tape Recorded Survey of Hiberno-English Speech - Digital

The Tape Recorded Survey of Hiberno-English Speech is a partially completed survey of English in Ireland. It was initiated in the 1970s by Mr. Michael Barry of the English Department (now The School of English) of the Queens University of Belfast, Mr. Philip Tilling, of The Department of English, The University of Ulster, Coleraine Campus, and Mr. Brendan Adams of The Ulster Folk Museum (now The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum) Cultra, Holywood, N.I. The plan was to cover the entire country by interviewing typical informants from each point in a grid of the island of Ireland (several hundred informants were envisaged for this). All three informants, i.e. a child, a middle aged person and an elderly person, were recorded in 165 localities, the child only in 28 localities, leaving 46 of the proposed network of 239 localities unrecorded. A small number of interviewers were involved (both male and female, from the north and south of Ireland, it would appear) who contacted informants and went through a questionnaire with them and after this recorded some free speech in which they were asked about their locality, their youth, their occupations, etc. The questionnaire consisted of some 374 questions (see the text of this under Questionnaire used in the survey below) in which informants were tested for their pronunciations of key words. These words were not spoken by the interviewer but rather provoked by asking questions in which the relevant key word was the most likely answer. The TRS instructed its field-workers that 3 informants should be recorded in each locality, one from each of three age-groups, i.e. between 9-12 years, 35-45 years and 65-75 years. The informants consulted in this survey are generally rural inhabitants and tend to be at least middle-aged, if not older (though there is one young boy on the tapes). Hence the survey is in contrast to sociolinguistic investigations done of urban English in Ireland, for instance those by James and Lesley Milroy in Belfast or by myself in Dublin. Nonetheless, the survey offers a snapshot of traditional dialects around the island of Ireland in the late twentieth century.

The tapes used for the present digitisation were given to me by Dr Barry in 1984 to whom I am very grateful. The recordings were chosen from the available tapes in order to offer a representative sample of the survey which was then incomplete and which has remained so. The coverage for Ulster is best as here the first informants were found. For the remaining three provinces a smaller number of speakers were recorded, but some of these are from Irish-speaking areas which makes the material interesting for research into the syntax of Irish English. In addition, further material from the area of Cork has been included here thanks to Dr Brendan Gunn who kindly put his tapes from this part of Ireland at my disposal. My contribution to this project has been to prepare the material for digital processing (digitisation of audio tapes, programming of the Java interface, creation of the active map). The background information has also been supplied by myself and I reconstructed the questionnaire text as the original documents could not be found in Belfast when this website was being constructed.

   Questionnaire used in survey    Map with recording locations

   Connaught    Leinster    Munster    The Cork files    Ulster

Material included in Tape Recorded Survey of Hiberno-English Speech - Digital

Tapes of speakers from the following locations have been digitised and included in the current program. The locations can be identified on the maps which accompany this program (see menu option Information on the top of the screen). The locations for which recordings have been included here are encircled in red on the maps. Note that in some instances there are not both types of recordings for all speakers, in some cases one only has questionnaires and in others only free speech.

It should be stated here that the condition of the tapes of the survey varies greatly from case to case. Some tapes have good quality recordings with little ambient noise. Others are in a less fortunate condition. Furthermore, not all tapes are complete, for instance the questionnaire was either not carried to its conclusion, i.e. not all 374 questions were asked, or the tapes were truncated for some unknown reason. The length of the tapes also varies because some speakers reply quickly and do not need much prompting for them to provide the expected answer. The greatest variation, however, is found in the stretches of free speech. The subject matter of the tapes is very diverse as is the manner in which it is presented.

A few of the tapes (such as those from Dingle, Connemara and Gweedore in Donegal) contain stretches in Irish. This fact is interesting because some of the informants are native speakers of Irish and the Irish answer to questionnaire items first come to their minds. Such speakers are of interest of course because their phonology is heavily influenced by Irish.

The audio files of Tape Recorded Survey of Hiberno-English Speech - Digital have been compressed using the MP3 format and can be processed with any commercial audio software if users wish to examine stretches of speech in detail or create extracts for themselves.

In all, there are 78 audio files is the Tape Recorded Survey of Hiberno-English Speech - Digital. .


Location 41 West Co. Galway Connaught_41_Questionnaire.wav
Location 42 West Co. Galway Connaught_42_1_Questionnaire.wav
Location 42 (speaker 2) West Co. Galway Connaught_42_2_Questionnaire.wav
Location 42 (speaker 3) West Co. Galway Connaught_42_3_Questionnaire.wav
Location 42 (speaker 4) West Co. Galway Connaught_42_4_Questionnaire.wav


Location 4 Co. Meath (speaker 1) Leinster_4_1_Free_Speech.wav
(speaker 2) Leinster_4_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 12 Co. Dublin Leinster_12_Free_Speech.wav
Location 17 Co. Kildare Leinster_17_Questionnaire.wav
Location 19 Co. Dublin (speaker 1) Leinster_19_1_Free_Speech.wav
(speaker 2) Leinster_19_2_Questionnaire.wav
(speaker 2) Leinster_19_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 25 Co. Wicklow Leinster_25_Free_Speech.wav
Location 80 Co. Meath Leinster_80_Free_Speech.wav


Location 7 Co. Clare Munster_7_Questionnaire.wav
Location 19 Co. Tipperary Munster_19_Questionnaire.wav
Location 42 Co. Kerry Munster_42_Questionnaire.wav
Location 53 South Co. Kilkenny Munster_53_Questionnaire.wav
Location 55 Co. Kerry Munster_55_Questionnaire.wav
Location 64 Co. Waterford (speaker 1) Munster_64_1_Free_Speech.wav
Location 64 Co. Waterford (speaker 2) Munster_64_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 69 West Co. Cork (speaker 1) Munster_69_1_Free_Speech.wav
(speaker 2) Munster_69_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 72 Cork city Munster_72_2_Questionnaire.wav

The Cork files

Cork City CorkCity_Female_1.wav
Blarney, Co. Cork Cork_Blarney_Female_1.wav
Coachford, Co. Cork Cork_Coachford_Male_1.wav

Note. There are two other audio files which have speech samples from Cork City, see Location 72 under Munster above.


Location 7 Co. Donegal (speaker 1) Ulster_7_1_Free_Speech.wav
Location 7 Co. Donegal (speaker 2) Ulster_7_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 14 Co. Antrim Ulster_14_Free_Speech.wav
Location 18 Co. Donegal (speaker 1) Ulster_18_1_Questionnaire.wav
Location 18 Co. Donegal (speaker 2) Ulster_18_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 19 Co. Derry Ulster_19_Free_Speech.wav
Location 22 Co. Antrim Ulster_22_Free_Speech.wav
Location 25 Co. Donegal Ulster_25_Questionnaire.wav
Location 28 Co. Tyrone Ulster_28_Free_Speech.wav
Location 30 Co. Tyrone Ulster_30_Free_Speech.wav
Location 33 Co. Antrim Ulster_33_Free_Speech.wav
Location 34 Co. Antrim Ulster_34_Free_Speech.wav
Location 37 Co. Donegal Ulster_37_Free_Speech.wav
Location 39 Co. Tyrone Ulster_39_Free_Speech.wav
Location 41 Co. Tyrone Ulster_41_Free_Speech.wav
Location 44 Co. Antrim Ulster_44_Free_Speech.wav
Location 45 Co. Down Ulster_45_Free_Speech.wav
Location 46 Co. Down Ulster_46_Free_Speech.wav
Location 51 Co. Fermanagh Ulster_51_Free_Speech.wav
Location 54 Co. Armagh (speaker 1) Ulster_54_1_Free_Speech.wav
Location 54 Co. Armagh (speaker 2) Ulster_54_2_Questionnaire.wav
Location 62 Co. Fermanagh Ulster_62_Free_Speech.wav
Location 63 Co. Monaghan Ulster_63_Free_Speech.wav
Location 65 Co. Down Ulster_65_Free_Speech.wav
Location 72 Co. Louth (speaker 1) Ulster_72_1_Free_Speech.wav
Location 72 Co. Louth (speaker 2) Ulster_72_2_Free_Speech.wav
Location 74 Co. Leitrim Ulster_74_Free_Speech.wav

Note In two cases a wordlist would seem to have been presented to informants (though no information on this list is available). The wordlist contains word pairs, usually with contrasting vowels, e.g. push : pull.