Irish

WVPT's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime 

June 2022

First and foremost, intelligibility is at the core of our work; a close second is authenticity.  If you cannot be understood by the audience, then all authenticity brought to the dialect is irrelevant. There will be moments when we make a choice that seems less authentic, but always for the purpose of clearer communication. 

 

Rehearse and sing in dialect. Memorize your text in dialect. Revisit sound clips periodically to tap back into the sound/feeling of the dialect. ASK QUESTIONS if you are not sure about anything!

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People/History/Culture

The Irish dialect we will be exploring is a generalized sound of an incredibly experienced dialect. It will focus on an umbrella dialect of the southern region of Ireland (Republic of Ireland). In Ireland, a variety of Celtic languages were spoken throughout the region until the 19th century when the Celtic languages fell from the primary language status in the country. This was due in great deal to the influence of the Catholic Church and their absence of authorized Irish Bibles; to The Great Famine in which a lot of the Celtic speaking population disappeared; and with a wide sweep of industrialization across Ireland and the UK brining English to the forefront of trade and economy. Language has always played an important role in identity and for centuries the Irish have fought to maintain their identity and autonomy from the UK, causing a great deal of strife and splitting the country into the ROI and Northern Ireland. In 2003 the Official Languages Act was instated making Irish an official language in the country, affecting signage and public/government communications (written an oral). In 2007 it was recognized as an official working language of the European Union. 

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Oral Posture

Trained actress from Ireland, working in US and globally, mid-20s

Trained voice coach & actress from Dublin; 50s

  • Jaw: held fairly close; can easily open wide, but not much need to do so

  • Tonge:

    • tip/blade — has easy fluid/darting access to back of teeth and gums

    • body — rests heavily on the bottom of the mouth and does not raise a lot in its movement

  • Lips: 

    • Corners — relaxed or can sometimes be pinned in a fairly easy position

    • Body — moves easily and fluidly; can have a bit of a pursing habit

  • Velum: raised, giving the mouth a feeling of tallness

  • THINK: more work with the tongue, less work with the lips and the jaw

  • Placement: the sound lives very forward, either in the dental area or just out of the front of the mouth

 

The O'Donovan brothers (rowing duo) have denser accents than what we are going for in this production, but this interview that blurs the lines of intelligibility allows us to perceive not only the oral posture, but the melody and prosodic possibilities. Take a listen before jumping into prosodic play.

Prosody: Rhythm, Stress, Pitch

  • There is a strong musicality in the Irish dialect. This comes through in a fluid form offering possibilities of elision counterbalancing the bouncing (buoyant, bobbing) rhythm.

  • Changes in rhythm, stress, tone can all happen in the middle of words through those vowels. You can give the sounds a bit of a ‘chewing’ as they travel out of the mouth.

  • All varieties of emphasis (pitch, length, volume) happen within a syllable or even a single vowel.

  • Length of the vowel is the greatest usage of emphasis with pitch gliding closely following. We can hear this most commonly in the diphthongs (face, goat, price).

Notable Patterns

  • PEAKING LATE → There is a bobbing patter to a elongated and higher pitched sound, dropping to the bobbing patter again before another elongated sound that scoops slightly up and sweeps down in pitch. diddle-daddle-PEEEEP-paddle-BAOW

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“You’re working off this peak performance all the time.”

Peaking Late
Peaking Late - SLOW MO
  • PEAKED TOO SOON → The peak of pitch and longest sound comes early in the phrase, leading into a smaller peak and shorter emphasis of words surfacing at the ends of phrases. DOOO-da-da-DO-da-DOoo

“Who was it - was it Morgan Freeman?”

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Peaked Too Soon
Peaked Too Soon - SLOW MO
  • PEAKED TOO SOON + PEAKING LATE →This pairs the two common prosodic phrasing patterns into a smaller range of pitch/length.

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“And then I woke up. And then I started to teach.”

Prosody Combo
Prosody Combo - SLOW MO
 
 
 

Pronunciation: Salient Sounds

Consonants: You can play with the amount of detail you put into the pronunciation of consonants to reflect need/mood/age/etc. 

θ/ð -> t/d

the fricative /th/ sounds take on a stronger plosive quality

 

thought, think, these, them, those, breathing // UNDERNEATH the toolbox

/r/ 

rhotic dialect, like American English - this consonant will be used with the same or greater muscularity that we are used to producing

Christopher, letter, mother, her, performance // he had a big ORANGE leaf //  I NEVER said that // FATHER was still at WORK // ASPRIN, and nail CLIPPERS, and BATTERIES

post-vocalic /l/ 

/l/ that comes after a vowel will tend to be ‘dark’ or velarized in our American English. However, in an Irish sound these /l/s will be realized with the tip/blade of the tongue raising towards the alveolar ridge

But you can STILL be very proud // not ALL murders are SOLVED // have you TOLD your father about this // heard father’s van PULLING up outside the house

ending

/-ing/

As is common with many US speakers, the ending /-ing/ will often cut the final velar plosive in its entirety. This occurs only with present participles (i.e., wishing, filming, typing), not with words such as fling or ring. 

Vowels & Diphthongs 

Lexical Set Keywords

IPA

Description // Additional Words

LOT/CLOTH

ɒ

LOT and CLOTH words will drop in the mouth, giving them a more open rounded sound.

 

The DOG was lying ON the grass // I do NOT tell lies // murder mystery NOVEL // dental FLOSS,

STRUT

ʊ

The STRUT sound will move higher in the mouth, forming a sound closer to FOOT [ʊ].

 

Cup // done // love // stuck // dustbin // Father takes me out SOMEWHERE // You also have to UNDERstand // and all the iron in your BLOOD // DOUBLE BLUFF

THOUGHT

ɑ

The THOUGHT vowels become unrounded

 

Talking // so I WALKED away // not all murderers are CAUGHT

START (other vowels ending with /r/ sounds*)

ɑəɹ̈

When the /r/ follows a vowel, there is a grand elongation of the vowels even to the point of adding additional sounds in there. Think of each vowel getting more length and the /r/ getting its own full realization, rather than a colorization of the proceeding vowel. 

There was a GARDEN fork sticking out of the dog. //  I STARTED by looking in the kitchen // And STARS are the places where the molecules that life is made of were constructed billions of YEARS* ago // and I began to get NERVOUS* 

FOOT

Will tend to move more closed and unrounded [u̜].

I WOULDN’T // to be a GOOD astronaut // but the BOOK wasn’t there // a little WOODEN station

DIPHTHONGS: while vowel sounds like to be elongated, diphthongs can easily move into monophthong territory.

GOAT

o

This diphthong often will become a singular vowel sound.

 

It’s eyes were CLOSED. //  She moved very SLOWLY because she was an OLD lady // it had never been OPENED

FACE

e
eɪ̆

It is common for this diphthong to become a monophthong. It will have a fair amount of inconsistency with this change and remain a diphthong, as well. 

 

I do not like STRANGERS // I put my hands round the sides of my FACE // and I can pretend I’m in SPACE // I remember how you PLAYED with it all DAY // don’t STAY ANGRY with me forever

MOUTH

ɛŭ

MOUTH diphthongs move to a forward onset vowel (as in DRESS) and move to a higher and further back vowel (as in GOOSE): [ɛŭ]  

 

House // and know that there is no one else near me for THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of miles // I COUNTED OUT the letters 

More Changes — a few unique sounds 

  • ‘Any-‘ spelling——when the word ‘any’ shows up it is always pronounced with the TRAP vowel [æ] (anything, anywhere)

  • Film → [fɪləm]

  • Tea → [tɛɪ]

  • Decent → [dɛɪsənt]

  • Jesus (when used as an oath) → dʒɛɪzəz]

  • Old →[aʊld]

 
  • IDEA - the International Dialects of English Archivesthis is a great resource as they have 4-5 samples of different speakers saying the same text. It will highlight the variance the dialect can have and still be ‘right’.

  • My YouTube Channel

  • Irish Radio

  • Irish History

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  • ’Tis and Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

  • Saoirse Ronan - actress

  • Robert Sheehan - actor

  • Conor McGregor - UFC fighter

  • O’Donovan brothers - rowers

  • Katie Taylor - boxer (Netflix documentary ‘Katie’)

  • Seamus O’Rourke - film actor

  • Brendan Gleeson - actor

  • The Wind that Shakes the Barley

  • Intermission

  • Brooklyn

  • Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope

  • Calvary

  • In the Name of the Father (Daniel Day Lewis does a Belfast dialect)

  • Once

Listening Suggestions