Dublin English refers to the diverse varieties of Hiberno-English spoken in the metropolitan area of Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Modern-day Dublin English largely lies on a phonological continuum between two extremes (largely, a broad versus general accent distinction). The more traditional, lower-prestige, working-class, local urban accent on the one end is known by linguist Raymond Hickey as Local Dublin English. On the other end, a more recently developing, higher-prestige, more widely regional (and even supraregional) accent exists, New Dublin English, only first emerging in the late 1980s and 1990s.[1] As of the 21st century, most speakers from Dublin and its suburbs have accent features falling variously along the entire middle as well as the newer end of the spectrum, which together form what Hickey calls Non-Local Dublin English, employed by the middle and upper class. The strict middle of the continuum is called Mainstream Dublin English, spoken by the middle class.

Mainstream Dublin English has become the basis of a standard accent of Ireland that is no longer regionally specific, becoming widespread everywhere except in the north of the country, where Ulster English persists.[2] However, the majority of Dubliners born since the 1980s (led particularly by females) have shifted towards New Dublin English, the most innovative in terms of its accent and the most extreme variety in rejecting features associated with Local Dublin English.[3] New Dublin English may be in the process of overtaking Mainstream Dublin English as the national prestige variety.[2]


In the most general terms, all varieties of Dublin English have the following identifying sounds that are often distinct from the rest of Ireland,[4] pronouncing:

Local Dublin English

Local Dublin English (or Popular Dublin English) refers to a traditional, broad, working-class variety spoken in Dublin. It is the only Irish English variety that in earlier history was non-rhotic; however, it is today weakly rhotic,[5][6] and it uniquely pronounces:

The Local Dublin accent is also known for a phenomenon called "vowel breaking", in which MOUTH, PRICE, GOOSE and FLEECE in closed syllables are "broken" into two syllables, approximating [ɛwə], [əjə], [uwə], and [ijə], respectively.[8]

Notable lifelong native speakers

New Dublin English

Evolving as a fashionable outgrowth of mainstream Non-Local Dublin English,[11] New Dublin English (also, advanced Dublin English and, formerly, fashionable Dublin English) is a relatively young variety that originally began in the early 1990s among the "avant-garde" and now those aspiring to a non-local "urban sophistication".[12] New Dublin English itself, first associated with affluent and middle-class inhabitants of southside Dublin, is probably now spoken by a majority of Dubliners born since the 1980s.[1]

This "new mainstream" accent of Dublin's youth, rejecting traditional working-class Dublin, pronounces:

Notable lifelong native speakers

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Dublin 4 English

New Dublin English largely evolved out of an even more innovative variety, Dublin 4 English, which originated around the 1970s or 1980s from middle- or higher-class speakers in South Dublin before spreading outwards. Also known as "D4" or "DART speak" because of local associations, or, mockingly, "Dortspeak", this dialect rejected traditional, conservative, and working-class notions of Irishness, with its speakers instead regarding themselves as more trendy and sophisticated.[17] However, particular aspects of the D4 accent became quickly noticed and ridiculed as sounding affected or elitist by the 1990s, causing its defining features to fall out of fashion by the 1990s.[18] Still, it originated certain (less salient) other features that continue to be preserved in New Dublin English today. The salient defining features that are now out of fashion include pronouncing the BATH and START lexical sets with a back, long and rounded vowel, thus a glass in the bar like glɒːs ɪn ðə bɒːɹ].[18] Other sounds, however, like the raising of LOT and THOUGHT to [ɒ~ɔ] and [ɔː~oː], respectively (whereas the two were traditionally merged and low in Local Dublin English), have survived from D4 English into New Dublin English.



  1. ^ a b Hickey (2007b:180)
  2. ^ a b Hickey, Raymond (2012). "Standard Irish English". Standards of English. Codified Varieties around the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 114-115.
  3. ^ Hickey, Raymond (2015). Dublin English Archived 22 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine Irish English Resource Centre. University of Duisburg and Essen.
  4. ^ Hickey, Raymond (2005). Dublin English: Evolution and Change. J. Benjamins Publishing Company.
  5. ^ Hickey, Raymond. A Sound Atlas of Irish English, Volume 1. Walter de Gruyter: 2004, pp. 57-60.
  6. ^ de Gruyter 2004, pp. 91
  7. ^ Hickey, Raymond. "Dublin English, Broad". Universität Duisburg-Essen, June 2021.
  8. ^ de Gruyter 2004, pp. 83–84
  9. ^ Reynolds, Deirdre. "Lunch with Damien Dempsey: Ronnie Drew never watered down his accent – why should I?". Independent.ie. 2013.
  10. ^ "WATCH: SNL had a skit about Conor McGregor and the accent is all over the place". JOE.ie.
  11. ^ Hickey (2007:355)
  12. ^ Hickey (2007:355)
  13. ^ Linehan, Hugh (2016). "Saoirse Ronan's accent should not be a talking point". The Irish Times.
  14. ^ Allfree, Claire. "Sherlock actor Andrew Scott: Tenderness is more interesting than blatant sexuality". Metro. 2010.
  15. ^ Mason, Aiden (19 October 2017). "Five Things You Didn't Know About Katie McGrath". TVOvermind.
  16. ^ "Samantha Mumba". Volcanic. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  17. ^ Hickey (2007:357)
  18. ^ a b Hickey, Raymond. Dublin English: Evolution and Change. John Benjamins Publishing: 2005, pp. 46-48