Ulster-Scots(Scotch-Irish) Journey:1

On Thursday,16th July, at 12.45 hrs,  I left Dublin, Ireland on Flight EI 105, for New York JFK, and then on to Seattle, USA on Flight UA 37, arriving at 11.35 hrs the following day. I was picked up by my nephew Kevin , who will be my companion on the journey to save our Ulster-Scots Language from extinction.

Over the weekend we researched the home phone number of Professor Robert J Gregg in Vancouver and rang him this evening of Monday, 20th July. He was most courteous and agreed to meet us at his home at 11.30 hours on the morning of this Thursday 23rd July.

Professor Robert J. Gregg’s research and surveys of Ulster-Scots speech conducted from the 1950s through the late 1980s were responsible, literally and figuratively, for putting Ulster-Scots on the map,using a 600-item questionnaire to pinpoint the parts of Counties Donegal, Londonderry, Antrim, and Down where it is most strongly spoken.

Bob taught languages in Belfast and Newtownards grammar schools before emigrating to Vancouver in 1954 to found the Department of Linguistics at the University of British Columbia. He has spent the rest of his life there, though returning frequently to Northern Ireland for research and to see family and friends.

In 1960 the Ulster Folk Museum established an Ulster Dialect Archive consisting of dialect material collected by the Belfast Naturalist’s Field Club (B.N.F.C.). I bought the first publication of the Museum Ulster Dialects: An Introductory Symposium in 1964 and used it for the chapter The Language of Ulster in my Identity of Ulster in 1981.

Ulster Dialects consisted of five papers on various aspects of dialect study. A brief introduction by G.B. Adams set the scene..Ulster English “consists essentially of two primary Dialects:the north-eastern or Ulster Scots dialect, and the central or mid-Ulster dialect, together with a number of marginal contact dialects”.

Then follows Ulster and Elizabethan English by J. Braidwood; Northern The Last Language Census in Northern Ireland by G.B. Adams; Anglo-Irish Word-Charts by P.J. Henry; Scotch -Irish Urban Speech in Ulster by R.J. Gregg; and A Register of Phonological Research on Ulster Dialects by G.B. Adams.

The B.N.F.C. survey covered eleven counties: the six counties of Northern Ireland and the five immediately over its land border or, to put it another way, the traditional nine-county province of Ulster with the addition of Co. Louth.,which was part of Ulster until the seventeenth century, and of Co. Leitrim,which with Co.Cavan formed part of Breifne, a region whose connections fluctuated between Ulster and Connaught in former times.

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