NEG/AUX Contraction in Eighteenth-Century Irish English Emigrant Letters

  • Dania Jovanna Bonness


This article examines negation patterns with the auxiliaries BE, HAVE, WILL and WOULD in early Irish English through a diachronic study of emigrant letters from the eighteenth century. Irish English is still an understudied variety and, by examining it historically, this study adds new insights into the development of NEG/AUX contraction at an early stage of Irish English. The study looks at contexts in which negative-contracted, auxiliary-contracted and full forms could be used interchangeably, thus emphasising the writers’ individual choices. Social variables such as geographical origin and social rank are reconstructed through the letters’ contents and thus allow sociolinguistic research as well. The article challenges the assumption that may arise from the relatively scarce literature on NEG/AUX contraction in Irish English that AUX contraction, especially with WILL, was a characteristic of early Irish English discourse. It rather shows that NEG contraction was the preferred form among the letter writers.


NEG/AUX contraction Negation Irish English Emigrant letters Corpus of Irish English Correspondence (CORIECOR) 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dania Jovanna Bonness
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Norway University of Applied SciencesBergenNorway

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