Nadine und Yvonne Kornetzki
Nina Siebert
Senta Wegener
“The Ballad of the Sick Note“
Definition: Hiberno-English
Form of the English language that is used in
Ireland, also called Irish English and
sometimes Anglo-Irish
 In Irish, the language is called Gaeilge
 3 main dialects spoken in the regions of Ulster,
Munster, Connacht
 1.4 million Irish speakers in Ireland
(3.9 million inhabitants  ~35%)
16th and 17th centuries: English and Scots
were sent to Ireland by the motherland in order
to take over Ireland as a new colony
Colonists took over land, oppressed Irish
language  official language: English
1996: Irish became official language in Ireland
besides English
Irish Alphabet:
Lord‘s Prayer (historical)
Irish Alphabet:
Lord‘s Prayer (modern)
Pronunciation: Vowels
In some varieties (Southern Irish English) the
vowels in father and bother merge to /a:/
Slender vowels “i“,“e“
Broad vowels “a“,“o“,“u“
 influences consonant pronunciation
Pronunciation: Consonants
Generally Rhotic Accent
In some varieties /ð/ and /d/ merge like in then
and den
/Ω/ sound for “oo“ may be changed to /u:/
(book /bΩk/ -> /bu:k/)
Pronunciation: Consonants
Consonants are surrounded by slender or
broad vowels (Caol le caol, leathan le leathan “Slender with slender, broad with broad“)
English: Words with no other difference
between them than p vs. b (pin and bin) or t vs.
d (tin and din)
Hiberno: Words with no other difference
between them than broad b vs. slender b, or
broad p vs. slender p, etc.
Pronunciation: Consonants
d: docht – tight (broad) vs.
deoch - a drink (slender)
 s: suí - sitting down (broad) vs.
sí – she,her (slender)
Indo-European language with the same
inherited grammatical categories as other
languages of this family.
Verb – Subject – Object structure
Tá snámh go maith dhuit
is to-swim
good for-you
Statements and Questions
Negative Statements: "Ní“ is added before the
e.g. Ní thugigim. I do not understand.
 Direct Questions: "An" is added before the verb
e.g. An dtuigeann tú? Do you understand?
Irish repeats the verb of the question instead of
using yes or no
e.g. “Will you come?“ – “I will.“
“Is your mobile charged?“ – “It isn‘t.“
Alternatively: “Aye“ for “Yes“
Verbal Noun
 Instead of an infinitive each verb has an associated
verbal noun:
Is maith liom
[is mah' l'um sna:v]
is good with-me to-swim
"I like to swim„
Tá snámh go maith dhuit [ta: sna:v g@ mah' yit']
is to-swim
good for-you
"Swimming is good for you"
Irish equivalent of “to be“ has two present
tenses (present tense proper (generally true)
<-> habitual present (repeated actions))
e.g. “You are [now, or generally]“ – tá tú
“You are [repeatedly]“ – bíonn tú
“The Ballad of the Sick Note“ by
The Dubliners
Dear Sir, I write this note to you to tell
you of me plight
And at the time of writing I am not a
pretty sight
Me body is all black and blue, me face a
deathly gray
And I write this note to say why Paddy’s
not at work today.
Clearing all these bricks by hand it was
so very slow
So I hoisted up a barrel and secured the
rope below
But in me haste to do the job I was too
blind to see
That a barrel full of building bricks was
heavier than me.
While working on the fourteenth floor,
some bricks I had to clear
Now to throw them down from such a
height was not a good idea
The foreman wasn’t very pleased, he
being an awkward – sod
He said I’d have to cart them down the
ladders in my hod
So when I untied the rope the barrel fell
like lead
And clinging tightly to the rope I started
up instead
I shot up like a rocket till to my dismay I
That half way up I met the bloody barrel
coming down.
“The Ballad of the Sick Note“ by
The Dubliners
Well, the barrel broke me shoulder as to
the ground it sped
And when I reached the top I banged the
pulley with me head
Well, I clung on tight though numb with
shock from this almighty blow
And the barrel spilled out half the bricks
fourteen floors below.
I lay there groaning on the ground, I
thought I’d passed the worst
When the barrel hit the pulley wheel and
then the barrel burst
Well, a shower of bricks rained down on
me: I hadn’t got a hope
As I lay there moaning on the ground, I
let go the bloody rope.
When these bricks had fallen from the
barrel to the floor
I then outweighed the barrel and so
started down once more
Still clinging tightly to the rope I sped
towards the ground
And I landed on the broken bricks that
were all scattered round.
The barrel then being heavier it started
down once more
And landed right across me as I lay upon
the floor
Well, it broke three ribs and me left arm
and I can only say:
That I hope you’ll understand why
Paddy’s not at work today.
What is Irish about “The sick note“ ?
Ballad is composed in the form of an old
unaccompanied traditional Irish folksong
Folk music is associated with a lower class in societies
Traditional epic poetry was meant originally for oral
performance only - uncommercial origin
Subjects of folk songs : hymns and other forms of
religious music, work songs or jody calls- sung by
soldiers while marching
What is Irish about “The sick note“ ?
Epic quality: the amount of detail given of the work and
of what went wrong
Dramatic build-up in the recounting of the string of
No sense of shame, no self-pity (besides his injuries)
Singer takes a pleasure in presenting himself as an
misfortunate idiot
Composed for the entertainment of accident victim’s
friends and designed to secure liberation from hard
Example of a decidedly un-Protestant work ethos
Beginner‘s Guide to Irish Gaelic Pronunciation
<http://www.standingstones.com/gaelpron.html> (visited 15/05/2006)
Central Statistics Office Ireland. <www.cso.ie> (visited 15/05/2006)
Filppula, Markku. The Grammar of Irish English. Language in Hibernian style.
London: Routledge, 1999.
Fios Feasa: The Irish Language
<http://www.fiosfeasa.com/bearla/language/intro.htm> (visited 15/05/2006)
Harris, John. Phonological variation and change. Studies in Hiberno-English.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Irish Language Information and Resources. http://www.daltai.com/home.htm
(visited 17/05/2006
Über die irische Sprache <www.braesicke.de/gaelige.htm> (visited 15/05/2006)