|Forth and Bargy, Forth and Bargy dialect|
|Revival||Attempted revival, with 140 L2 speakers (no date)|
Yola, historically the Forth and Bargy dialect, was an Anglic language once spoken widely in the baronies of Forth and Bargy in County Wexford, Ireland. It is thought to have evolved from Middle English, which was brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion, beginning in 1169. As such, it was similar to the Fingallian language of the Fingal area. Both became functionally extinct in the 19th century when they were replaced by modern Hiberno-English, The name "Yola" means "old" in the language.
See also: History of the English language
The language was spoken in County Wexford, particularly in the baronies of Forth and Bargy. This was the first area English-speakers came to in the Norman invasion of Ireland, supporting the theory that it evolved from the Middle English introduced in that period. As such it is thought to have been similar to Fingallian, which was spoken in the Fingal region north of Dublin. Middle English, the mother tongue of the "Old English" community, was widespread throughout southeastern Ireland until the 14th century; as the Old English were increasingly assimilated into Irish culture, their original language was gradually displaced through Gaelicisation. After this point, Yola and Fingallian were the only attested relicts of this original form of English.
Modern English was widely introduced by British colonists during and after the 17th century, forming the basis for the modern Hiberno-English of Ireland. The new varieties were notably distinct from the surviving relict dialects. As English continued to spread, both Yola and the Fingallian died out in the 19th century, though Yola continued to be used as a liturgical language by the churches of Wexford well into the 20th century, to this day the Kilmore Choir sings what were once Yola tunes, now anglicized.
The speech of Forth and Bargy was the only kind in Ireland included in Alexander John Ellis's work On Early English Pronunciation Volume V, which was the earliest survey of “dialects of English”. The phonetics of the language were taken from a local reverend.
Though Yola ceased to be used as a means of daily communication after the mid-19th century, it continued to see significant usage as a liturgical language, and some personal usage within the linguist community of Ireland, such as Kathleen Browne's letter to Ireland dated to 10 April 1893. Browne was a fluent Yola speaker and wrote a number of articles including The Ancient Dialect of the Baronies of Forth and Bargy in 1927.
County Wexford native Paddy Berry is noted for his condensed performances of the piece "A Yola Zong" which he has performed for various recordings, the latest of which was in 2017. Various Yola rhymes, passed down from generation to generation, can be heard spoken by a Wexford woman in a documentary recorded in 1969 on the present usage and rememberers of Yola in the former baronies of Forth and Bargy.
Yola Farmstead, a community-operated reenactment of a Forth and Bargy village as it would have been during the 18th century, delivered a speech and performance of a song in Yola at their opening ceremony, featured Yola phrases in their advertisements, and hosted events where participants could learn some of the language from linguists and other experts on it. The Yola Farmstead also hosted a memorial event dedicated to Jack Devereux of the Kilmore Choir, which once used Yola extensively in their Christmas services. Devereux was a preservationist of, and well-versed in, Yola: locals considered him to be the last native speaker of the language, and a rendition of the Lord's Prayer translated into Yola was read at his memorial.
The Yola Farm has since closed down but since 2021 there have been efforts to reopen it. Wikitongues also has a section dedicated to Yola on its website which hosts language documentation and revitalization resources. There also exists various groups focused on reviving the Yola language.
As in the Dutch language, in southwestern varieties of English and (to a lesser extent) in German, most voiceless fricatives in Yola became voiced. The Middle English vowels are well-preserved, having only partially and sporadically undergone the changes associated with the Great Vowel Shift.
One striking characteristic of Yola was the fact that stress shifted to the second syllable of words in many instances: morsaale "morsel", hatcheat "hatchet", dineare "dinner", readeare "reader", weddeen "wedding", etc.
An exact spelling system for Yola has never been codified, beyond general trends listed in Jacob Poole's writings. Most of the spellings are meant as comparisons to standard English ones of his day and the pronunciations are largely reconstructed. The following are listed here:
|Yola spelling||Phoneme (IPA)||Example||Notes|
|Aa||/a/, /ə/ (unstressed)||angerth "angered", aloghe "below"|
|Aa aa||/ɛː/||aany "any"|
|A(a)i aai, A(a)y a(a)y||/ej/||brail "barrel"|
|A(a)u a(a)u, A(a)w a(a)w||/ɔː/||caure "care"|
|Cc||/k/, /s/ (before e, i, y)||comfoort "comfort", laace "lace"||soft c used mainly in analogies to English words|
|Ch ch||/tʃ/||chugh "chough"||also used for /x/|
|Dh dh||/ð/||dhunder "thunder"|
|Ee||/ɛ/, /ə/ (unstressed)||ess "ass, donkey", elles "else"||silent at the end of a word, but not in unstressed syllables|
|Ea ea||/eː/||eale "eel"|
|Ee ee||/iː/||eeren "iron"|
|E(e)i e(e)i, E(e)y e(e)y||/əj/||jeist "just now"|
|Eou eou, Eow eow||/ew/||keow "cow"|
|Eu eu, Ew ew||/iw/||vew "few"|
|Gg||/g/, /dʒ/ (before e, i, y)||greash "grace", burge "bridge"||soft g used mainly in analogies to English words|
|Gh gh||/x/, /g/ (word-initial)||faighe "faith", ghembols "pranks"||never silent
possibly also /ɣ/
|Hh||/h/||hoorn "horn"||silent in consonant clusters not listed here|
|Ie ie||/aj/, /i/ (word-final)||ieen "eyes", vidie "where"|
|Kh kh||/x/||teikh "to teach"||also used for /k/|
|Oo||/ɔ/||ov "of"||rarely used alone|
|Oa oa, O...e o...e||/oː/||oan "one"|
|Oee oee||/oj/||joee "joy"|
|Oo oo||/uː/||oor "our"|
|O(o)u o(o)u||/ʊ/||goun "gun"|
|Ow ow||/ow/||howe "hoe (gardening tool)"|
|Ph ph||/f/||phen "when"||used mainly as an analogy to English words spelt with <ph> or <wh>|
|/kw/||querne "quern"||used mainly as an analogy to English words spelt with <qu>|
|Sh sh||/ʃ/||shoo "she"|
|Th th||/θ/||thrist "trust"||also used for /ð/|
|Ui ui, Uy uy||/əj/||buye "boy"|
|Xx||/ks/||voxe "fox"||used mainly as an analogy to English words spelt wit <x>|
|Yy||/ɪ/, /j/ (consonant)||mycheare "idler", yeat "gate"|
|Y...e y...e, -ye||/aj/||gryne "grain"|
|Zh zh||/ʒ/||zheep "sheep"|
Note that the spellings can be somewhat inconsistent, due to many words attempting to draw comparison to English cognates and variation within the language. Not too much of the above, particularly regarding the vowels, is exactly certain.
Yola pronouns were similar to Middle English pronouns.
|1st Person||2nd Person||3rd Person|
|Singular||Plural||Singular Informal||Plural/ Singular Formal||Singular||Plural|
|Nominative||ich||wough, wee||thou||ye||shoo||hea, he||it||hi; thye|
|Genitive||mee||oore, oor, oure, our||thee||yer||*her||his||*his, *it(s)||aar|
The definite article was at first a or ee, which was later replaced by the.
Yola verbs had some conservative characteristics. The second and third person plural endings were sometimes -eth or -edh as in Chaucerian English. The past participle retained the Middle English "y" prefix as "ee".
Some nouns retained the -en plural of ME children, such as been 'bees' and tren 'trees'.
The glossary compiled by Jacob Poole provides most of what is known about the Forth and Bargy vocabulary. Poole was a farmer and member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) from Growtown in the Parish of Taghmon on the border between the baronies of Bargy and Shelmalier. He collected words and phrases from his tenants and farm labourers between 1800 and his death in 1827.
Although most of its vocabulary is Anglo-Saxon in origin, Yola contains many borrowings from Irish and French.
All the Yola etymons are Middle English unless stated otherwise. Yola words derived from a non-standard Middle English form list the variant first, followed by the variant in parentheses.
|English||Yola||Yola etymon||Scots||West Frisian||Low Saxon|
foo (Doric Scots)
fit (Doric Scots)
|when||fan/ phen/ van||whanne||whan
fan (Doric Scots)
|where||fidi/ vidie/ vidy||whider||whaur
faur (Doric Scots)
|who||fo/ vo||hwā (Old English)||wha
fa (Doric Scots)
fit wye (Doric Scots)
|English||Yola||Yola etymon||Scots||West Frisian||Low Saxon|
|by||be(e), bie, by||by||by||by||bi|
|for||for, var, vor||vor (for)||for||foar||för|
|from||vre(a)m/ vreem/ vrim/ vrom||vram (fram)||frae||fan||van, von, vun|
|next, next to||neeshte, nishte||next||neist||nêst||neven|
|in||i/ee/a, in(g), yn(g)||in||in||yn||in|
|out||udh, ut(h)||out||oot||út||ut, uut|
|through||draugh, trugh||thrugh||throch||troch||dörch, dör, döör|
|upon||apan, (a)paa||upon||upon/upo'||op||up, op|
|with||wee, wi, wough||with||wi||mei||mit|
|English||Yola||Yola etymon||Scots||West Frisian||Low Saxon|
|each, every||earch(a)/ earchee/ erich/ iverich||everich||ilk, ilka/ivery||eltse||elk, jeed/jeedeen|
|neither||nother||nóhwæþer (Old English)||naither||noch||noch|
|nane, nocht||nimmen, neat||nüms, nix|
|English||Yola||Yola etymon||Scots||West Frisian||Low Saxon||Irish|
|fǽr (Old English)
|fear||frees||Forcht, Bang, Angst||eagla|
|land||loan(e)||lond (land)||laund||lân||Land||talamh, tír|
|old||yola, yole||eold (Old English eald)||auld||âld||oold, oll-||sean, seanda, aosta|
|to go||goe||goan||gae/gang/gan||gean||gaan||dul (go), imeacht (go away), gabháil (go along)|
|Veisafjǫrðr (Old Norse)||Wexford||Wexford||Wexford||Loch Garman|
|#||Yola||Yola etymon||West Frisian|
|2||twee, twi(ne), twy(n)(e)||tweyne||twa|
|4||vour, vowre||vour (four)||fjouwer|
|6||zeese||siex (Old English six)||seis|
|8||ayght/ aught||eahta (Old English)||acht|
|100||hindereth/ hundereth/ hunnert||hundred||hûndert|
Diarmaid Ó Muirithe travelled to South Wexford in 1978 to study the English spoken there. His informants ranged in age between 40 and 90. Among the long list of words still known or in use at that time are the following:
Amain is a Norman word which means 'of easy use'.
The following is a song in Yola with a rough translation into English.
A Yola Zong.
An Old Song.
Congratulatory address in the dialect of Forth and Bargy, presented to the Earl of Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on his visit to Wexford in 1836. Taken from the Wexford Independent newspaper of 15 February 1860. The paper's editor Edmund Hore wrote:
The most remarkable fact, in reality, in connexion with the address is this. In all probability it was the first time regal or vice-regal ears were required to listen to words of such a dialect; and it is even still more probable that a like event will never happen again; for if the use of this old tongue dies out as fast for the next five-and-twenty years as it has for the same bygone period, it will be utterly extinct and forgotten before the present century shall have closed.
In order for a person not acquainted with the pronunciation of the dialect to form anything like an idea of it, it is first necessary to speak slowly, and remember that the letter a has invariably the same sound, like a in 'father.' Double ee sounds as e in 'me,' and most words of two syllables the long accent is placed on the last. To follow the English pronunciation completely deprives the dialect of its peculiarities.
To's Excellencie Constantine Harrie Phipps, y' Earle Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland. Ye soumissive Spakeen o'ouz Dwelleres o' Baronie Forthe, Weisforthe.
MAI'T BE PLEASANT TO TH' ECCELLENCIE, – Wee, Vassalès o' 'His Most Gracious Majesty', Wilyame ee Vourthe, an, az wee verilie chote, na coshe an loyale dwellerès na Baronie Forthe, crave na dicke luckie acte t'uck neicher th' Eccellencie, an na plaine garbe o' oure yola talke, wi vengem o' core t’gie oure zense o' y gradès whilke be ee-dighte wi yer name; and whilke we canna zei, albeit o' 'Governere,' 'Statesman,' an alike. Yn ercha an aul o' while yt beeth wi gleezom o' core th' oure eyen dwytheth apan ye Vigere o'dicke Zouvereine, Wilyame ee Vourthe, unnere fose fatherlie zwae oure daiez be ee-spant, az avare ye trad dicke londe yer name waz ee-kent var ee vriene o' livertie, an He fo brake ye neckarès o' zlaves. Mang ourzels – var wee dwytheth an Irelonde az ure generale haime – y'ast, bie ractzom o'honde, ee-delt t’ouz ye laas ee-mate var ercha vassale, ne'er dwythen na dicke waie nar dicka. Wee dwyth ye ane fose dais be gien var ee gudevare o'ye londe ye zwae, – t'avance pace an livertie, an, wi'oute vlynch, ee garde o' generale reights an poplare vartue. Ye pace – yea, we mai zei, ye vaste pace whilke bee ee-stent owr ye londe zince th'ast ee-cam, proo'th, y'at wee alane needeth ye giftes o’generale rights, az be displayte bie ee factes o'thie goveremente. Ye state na dicke daie o'ye londe, na whilke be nar fash nar moile, albiet 'constitutional agitation,' ye wake o'hopes ee-blighte, stampe na yer zwae be rare an lightzom. Yer name var zetch avancet avare ye, e’en a dicke var hye, arent whilke ye brine o'zea an ye craggès o'noghanes cazed nae balke. Na oure gladès ana whilke we dellt wi' mattoke, an zing t'oure caulès wi plou, wee hert ee zough o'ye colure o' pace na name o' Mulgrave. Wi Irishmen owre generale hopes be ee-bond – az Irishmen, an az dwellerès na cosh an loyale o' Baronie Forthe, w’oul daie an ercha daie, our meines an oure gurles, praie var long an happie zins, shorne o'lournagh an ee-vilt wi benisons, an yerzel an oure gude Zovereine, till ee zin o'oure daies be var aye be ee-go t'glade.
To his Excellency, Constantine Henry Phipps, Earl of Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant-General, and General Governor of Ireland. The humble Address of the Inhabitants of the Barony of Forth, Wexford.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY – We, the subjects of his Most Gracious Majesty, William IV., and, as we truly believe, both faithful and loyal inhabitants of the Barony of Forth, beg leave at this favourable opportunity to approach your Excellency, and in the simple dress of our old dialect to pour forth from the strength (or fulness) of our hearts, our sense (or admiration) of the qualities which characterise your name, and for which we have no words but of 'Governor,' 'Statesman,' &c. In each and every condition it is with joy of heart that our eyes rest upon the representative of that Sovereign, William IV., under whose paternal rule our days are spent; for before your foot pressed the soil, your name was known to us as the friend of liberty, and he who broke the fetters of the slave. Unto ourselves – for we look on Ireland to be our common country – you have with impartial hand ministered the laws made for every subject, without regard to this party or that. We behold in you one whose days are devoted to the welfare of the land you govern, to promote peace and liberty – the uncompromising guardian of the common right and public virtue. The peace – yes, we may say the profound peace – which overspreads the land since your arrival, proves that we alone stood in need of the enjoyment of common privileges, as is demonstrated by the results of your government. The condition, this day, of the country, in which is neither tumult nor disorder, but that constitutional agitation, the consequence of disappointed hopes, confirms your rule to be rare and enlightened. Your fame for such came before you even into this retired spot, to which neither the waters of the sea below nor the mountains above caused any impediment. In our valleys, where we were digging with the spade, or as we whistled to our horses in the plough, we heard the distant sonnd of the wings of the dove of peace, in the word Mulgrave. With Irishmen our common hopes are inseparably bound up – as Irishmen, and as inhabitants, faithful and loyal, of the Barony Forth, we will daily and every day, our wives and our children, implore long and happy days, free from melancholy and full of blessings, for yourself and our good Sovereign, until the sun of our lives be gone down the dark valley (of death).
This following is a Yola poem from an original document containing accents to aid pronunciation;
Ee mýdhe ov Rosslaarè
The maiden of Rosslare
ISBN 1-58811-209-8 (US)