From Ulster to America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English

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Ulster Historical Foundation, 2006 - Foreign Language Study - 210 pages
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Over the last 350 years, Ireland has sent a constant stream of emigrants to North America. Estimates range from 6 to 10 million. Each emigrant spoke English, Irish, or Ulster Scots. Many indeed used two of these tongues. One of the most formative chapters in this fascinating story is the often-overlooked arrival of perhaps 200,000 people from Ulster in the colonial era, specifically in the sixty years before the American Revolution. This book recounts the lasting impact they made on the development of the,English language of the United States from the 18th century to the present day. It documents nearly 400 terms and meanings, each with quotations from both sides of the Atlantic, that were contributed to American English by these 18th-century settlers from Ulster. Drawing on letters they sent back to their homeland and on other archival documents associated with their settlement, including local fiction and poetry, it shows that Ulster emigrants and their children, who settled mainly in the American interior, gave as much to regional American English as any other group from the Old World. Its pages contain many pleasant surprises: readers will find terms both instantly recognisable and unfamiliar. The numerous quotations not only bring alive the speech of earlier days on both sides of the Atlantic but also extend our understanding of the culture, mannerisms and life of those pioneering times and, through the spoken and written word, poignantly link the past with the present.
  

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About the author (2006)

Michael Montgomery is Professor Emeritus of English and Linguistics at the University of South Carolina. For the past 20 years he has read widely in the archives and museums of Ireland, Scotland, and the U.S to find the material for this book. His has written widely on Irish and Scottish links to American English as well as on the English of his native southern United States. His most recent book is Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. He is Honorary President of the Ulster-Scots Language Society.

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