Here's a question about English accent comparison. It's about the differences in phonemic inventory of Irish Supraregional compared to RP.

Is the Irish English vowel in the lexical set FACE /e:/ a difference in phonemic inventory (compared to RP's diphthong in the same lexical set) or is this just a different realisation?

(Compared to e.g. RP's diphthongs /ɪə, eə, ʊə/ vs. GA in ‘beard’ /bɪrd/, ‘fare’ /fer/, ‘dour’ /dʊr/ which are said to be differences in phonemic inventory)

Just as GA is "lacking" in RP's diphthongs, can't the same be applied for Irish Supraregional vowel in the FACE set, i.e. it's lacking the /eɪ/ diphthong ? (or RP lacking the /e/ in such ph. environment - as far as I'm concerned, /e/ can only appear in RP in the diphthong /eɪ/)

Thank you, anyone who can clarify.

  • RP /ɪə/ usually corresponds to GA /ɪr/, but it can also occur due to synalepha in words like "idea," "Medea" etc. So these are not entirely phonologically homologous. But with Irish /e:/ vs. RP /eɪ/, I don't know of any cases where this sound exists besides FACE. What sources are you looking at that make these distinctions, anyway (between "difference in phonemic inventory" and "difference in realization)? How do they explain it? I am unfortunately not an expert, but I thought I'd comment since no one else has yet. Jan 15 '16 at 8:21
  • By the way, I don't see what you mean by saying that "/e/ can only appear in RP in the diphthong /eɪ/"--leaving aside the apparent counterexample of the sound you transcribe as /eə/, if it only appears as part of one phoneme, how does it have any phonemic status at all? Do you mean [e] instead? That seems like saying "/ʒ/ can only appear in standard Italian in the affricate /dʒ/," when to me it seems more reasonable to say that standard Italian lacks /ʒ/ as a phoneme altogether. Jan 15 '16 at 8:24

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