Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 November 2003
In diffusionist accounts of the Northern Subject Rule
(NSR), this subject–verb concord system spread from Scotland
via Ulster to North America and elsewhere. Thus, the NSR in Mid-Ulster
English dialects of districts originally settled from England is
attributed to diffusion from Ulster-Scots. But the NSR was also a
feature of dialects of the North and North Midlands, the regions that
contributed most of the English settlers to the Ulster Plantation.
Since English and Scottish settlement patterns established in the
seventeenth century have been reflected in Ulster dialect boundaries
since then, the founder principle provides an alternative account of
the persistence of the NSR in Northern Irish English. Usage in
nineteenth-century emigrant letters indicates that the NSR was as
strong in English-influenced dialects of Mid-Ulster as in Ulster-Scots
and suggests that the NSR in Ulster may be a direct import from England
as well as Scotland.