Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Irish English Stereotypes in Cinematographic Representations

"In general terms, we can observe that basic stereotypes about IrE pragmalinguistic norms and communicative style—for example, implicitness, evasiveness, downtoning and conventional pessimism—correspond to “salient and distinctive elements” of Irish sociocultural norms (Kallen 2005: 142–143). However, with respect to the specil c pragmalinguistic realizations of Irish sociocultural norms we can observe a stark contrast between pragmalinguistic stereotypes, i.e. the features that are perceived to characterize Irish conversational style and the actual linguistic realizations of a variety of speech acts as well as the functional spectrum and distribution of even the most salient pragmatic markers."

Pragmatic markers:
The stereotypical use of "like" in Irish English in cinematographic representations is said to be typically associated with Irish tentativeness or uncertainty, for instance, "Ah, I'm only having a bit of fun, like." or "Submarines they've built themselves, like." Another pragmatic marker used stereotypically is "sure". While it is used as a feedback signal or affirmative answer in British and American English, in Irish English, it has "a whole range of interpersoanl and disocurse-organizational functions" such as emphasis, reinforcement, epistemic stance, and mockery, e.g.: "I'm Irish, sure. Racism's part of my culture."

Request strategies:
Cinematographic representations of Irish English request strategies differ from pragmalinguistic forms used in natural settings insofar as a stereotypical request is highly indirect, e.g.: "You couldn’t confirm this in writing, could you?"

Compliment responses:
Responding to compliments means a dilemma since speakers need to decide to respond somewhere between accepting and appearing immodest and not accepting and contrasting one's opinion to the complimenter's one. Irish English speakers seem to use more non-agreement micro compliment responses while American English speakers clearly prefer strategies of acceptance. However, in sum, modesty and agreement maxims are distributed more evenly in Irish English than in American English. Neverheless, in "the cinematographic representations of IrE under scrutiny the macro strategy of non-acceptance appears to be stereotyped".

Responses to thanks:
Reactions to thanks can vary and either express pleasure at performing the action ("great pleasure", "anytime") or miminise the favour or effort invested by using negative politeness ("no problem", "don't mention it"). Irish English speakers seem to invest more creativity into minimising thanks. In cinematographic representations of Irish English speakers, strategies of avoidance, topic shift, and credit shift are found.

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- Furkò, B. P. (2013). Irish English Stereotypes. A Variational Pragmatic Analysis. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Philologica, 5(2), 123-135. LINK
- photograph of Peter O'Toole via