Perhaps the most profound cultural change in modern Irish history has been the replacement of Irish by English as the main vernacular of the general population in the centuries since the conquest of Ireland in the sixteenth century. It is a complex story, but the massive impact of the Famine (mortality and emigration) on the later phase of this language change demands precise analysis. Based on the author’s own work and taking account of recent studies of the language change, this Folio examines closely explanations and interpretations of this change of vernacular – over the long term and in its nineteenth-century setting – with a firm focus on the role of the Great Famine in this episode of fundamental cultural transformation.
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