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English is the main language in Northern Ireland. After all, most inhabitants are descendants of English and Scottish settlers who colonized Northern Ireland in previous centuries. The English spoken here has a typical local accent.

Gaelic (Irish) is still spoken here and there by the Catholic people, although the many Gaelic place names in Northern Ireland suggest otherwise.

A bilingual street sign in Northern IrelandA bilingual street sign in Northern IrelandPhoto: Nogger at English Wikipedia CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Middle North English dialect shows influences from the English West Midlands and from Scotland. It clearly differs from the English spoken in Ireland, the "Hiberno-English".

There are also minor differences in pronunciation between the Catholic and the Protestant population. The best example of this is the letter "h," which Protestants pronounce as "aitch," as in British English, and Catholics as "haitch," as in Hiberno.

The Ulster Scots (also known as Scotch-Irish, Ullans or Hiberno-Scots) are descended from the Lowland Scots and are still spoken in a few places in Northern Ireland. Ulster-Scots was officially recognized as a European regional language by the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages at the end of the last century.

As far as the immigrant residents in Northern Ireland are concerned, Chinese is the most widely spoken language, although the Chinese population of 8,000 people is not very large.


Cahill, M. J. / Northern Ireland
Chelsea House Publishers

Day, C. / North of Ireland


CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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