Manx (Manx: Gaelg or Gailck, pronounced [ɡilɡ] or [ɡilk] or [ɡeːlɡ]), also known as Manx Gaelic, and also historically spelled Manks, is a Goidelic language of the insular Celtic branch of the Celtic language family, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. Manx is the historical language of the Manx people. Although few children have Manx as a first language on the Isle of Man, there has been a steady increase in the number of speakers since the death of Ned Maddrell in 1974. Ned Maddrell was considered to be the last speaker who grew up in a Manx-speaking community environment. Despite this, the language has never fallen completely out of use, with a minority having some knowledge of it as a heritage language, and it is still an important part of the island's culture and cultural heritage. Manx is often cited as a good example of language revival efforts; in 2015, around 1,800 people had varying levels of second language conversational ability. Since the late 20th century, Manx has become more visible on the island, with increased signage, radio broadcasts and a Manx-medium primary school. The revival of Manx has been made easier because the language was well recorded: for example, the Bible and Book of Common Prayer had been translated into Manx, and audio recordings had been made of native speakers.
|Pronunciation||[əˈɣɪlɡ], [əˈɣɪlk] y Ghaelg, y Ghailk|
|Native to||Isle of Man|
|Extinct||Extinct as a first language by 1974 with the death of Ned Maddrell, before subsequent revival.|
|Revival||53 first language speakers, and 1,800 second language speakers, including children (2015)|
Official language in
|Isle of Man|
|Regulated by||Coonceil ny Gaelgey (Manx Gaelic Council)|
Names of the language
In Manx, the language is called Gaelg or Gailck, a word which shares the same etymology as the word "Gaelic". The sister languages of Irish and Scottish Gaelic use Gaeilge (dialect variants Gaoluinn, Gaedhlag, Gaelge and Gaelic) and Gàidhlig, respectively, for their languages. As with Irish and Scottish, the form with the definite article is frequently used in Manx, e.g. y Ghaelg or y Ghailck (Irish an Ghaeilge, Scottish a' Ghàidhlig).
To distinguish it from the two other forms of Gaelic, the phrases Gaelg/Gailck Vannin (Gaelic of Mann) and Gaelg/Gailck Vanninnagh (Manx Gaelic) also are used. In addition, the nickname "Çhengey ny Mayrey" (the mother tongue/tongue of the mother, lit. the mother's tongue) is occasionally used.
The language is usually referred to in English as "Manx". The term "Manx Gaelic" is often used, for example when discussing the relationship between the three Goidelic languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx) or to avoid confusion with Anglo-Manx, the form of English spoken on the island. Scottish Gaelic is often referred to in English as simply "Gaelic", but this is less common with Manx and Irish.
A feature of Anglo-Manx deriving from Gaelic is the use of the definite article, e.g. "the Manx", "the Gaelic", in ways not generally seen in standard English.
The word "Manx" is frequently spelled "Manks" in historical sources, particularly those written by natives of the island; the word means "Mannish", and originates from the Old Norse Mannisk. The name of the island, Man, is frequently spelled "Mann". It is sometimes accompanied by a footnote explaining that it is a two-syllable word, with the stress on the first syllable, "MAN-en". The island is named after the Irish god Manannán mac Lir, thus Ellan Vannin (Irish Oileán Mhannanáin) 'Mannanán's Island'.
Manx is a Goidelic language, closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. On the whole it is partially mutually intelligible with these, and native speakers of one find it easy to gain passive, and even spoken, competency in the other two.
It has been suggested that a little-documented Brythonic language (ie, related to modern Welsh, Cornish and Breton) was used in the Isle of Man before the arrival of Christian missionaries from Ireland. There is little evidence to support this.
The basis of the modern Manx language is Primitive Irish (like modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic). The Island either lends its name to, or takes its name from Manannán, the Brythonic and Gaelic sea god who is said in myth to have once ruled the island. Primitive Irish is first attested in Ogham inscriptions from the 4th century AD. These writings have been found throughout Ireland and the west coast of Great Britain. Primitive Irish transitioned into Old Irish through the 5th century. Old Irish, dating from the 6th century, used the Latin script and is attested primarily in marginalia to Latin manuscripts, but there are no extant examples from the Isle of Man.
Latin was used for ecclesiastical records from the establishment of Christianity in the Isle of Man in the fifth century CE. Many lexical items concerning religion, writing and record keeping entered Manx at this time.
The Isle of Man was conquered by Norse Vikings in the ninth century. Although there is some evidence in the form of runic inscriptions that Norse was used by some of these settlers, the Vikings who settled around the Irish Sea and West Coast of Scotland soon became Gaelic speaking Norse-Gaels. During the 9th century AD, the Gaelic of the inhabitants of the Isle of Man, like those Scotland and the North of Ireland, may have been significantly influenced by Norse speakers. While Norse had very little impact on the Manx language overall, a small number of modern place names on Mann are Norse in origin, e.g. Laxey (Laksaa) and Ramsey (Rhumsaa). Other Norse legacies in Manx include loanwords and personal names.
By the 10th century, it is supposed that Middle Irish had emerged and was spoken throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
The Island came under Scottish rule in 1266, and alternated between Scottish and English rule until finally becoming the feudal possession of the Stanley family in 1405 century. It is likely that up until this point, except for scholarly knowledge of Latin and courtly use of Anglo-Norman, that Manx was the only language spoken on the Island. Since the establishment of the Stanleys on the Isle of Man, first Anglo-Norman, and later, the English language have been the chief external factors in the development of Manx, until the twentieth century, when in Manx speakers became able to access Irish and Scottish Gaelic media.
Manx had diverged considerably from the Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland between 1400 and 1900. The seventeenth century Plantation of Ulster, the decline of Irish in Leinster and extinction of Galloway Gaelic led to the geographic isolation of Manx from other dialects of Gaelic. The development of a separate orthography also led Manx to diverge from Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
In the 17th century, some university students left the Isle of Man to attend school in England. At the same time, teaching in English was required in schools founded by governor Isaac Barrow. Barrow also promoted the use of English in churches; he considered that it was a superior language for reading the Bible; however, because the majority of ministers were monolingual Manx speakers, his views had little practical impact.
Thomas Wilson began his tenure as Bishop of Mann in 1698 and was succeeded by Mark Hildesley. Both men held positive views of Manx; Wilson was the first person to publish a book in Manx, a translation of The Principles and Duties of Christianity (Coyrie Sodjey), and Hildesley successfully promoted the use of Manx as the language of instruction in schools. The New Testament was first published in Manx in 1767. In the late 18th century, nearly every school was teaching in English. This decline continued into the 19th century, as English gradually became the primary language spoken on the Isle of Man.
In 1848, J. G. Cumming wrote, "there are... few persons (perhaps none of the young) who speak no English." Henry Jenner estimated in 1874 that about 30% of the population habitually spoke Manx (12,340 out of a population of 41,084). According to official census figures, 9.1% of the population claimed to speak Manx in 1901; in 1921 the percentage was only 1.1%. Since the language was used by so few people, it had low linguistic "prestige", and parents tended to not teach Manx to their children, thinking it would be useless to them compared with English.
Following the decline in the use of Manx during the nineteenth century, Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh (The Manx Language Society) was founded in 1899. By the middle of the twentieth century, only a few elderly native speakers remained (the last of them, Ned Maddrell, died on 27 December 1974), but by then a scholarly revival had begun and a few people had started teaching it in schools. The Manx Language Unit was formed in 1992, consisting of three members and headed by Manx Language Officer Brian Stowell, a language activist and fluent speaker, "which was put in charge of all aspects of Manx language teaching and accreditation in schools." This led to an increased interest in studying the Manx language and encouraged a renewed sense of ethnic identity. The revival of Manx has been aided by the recording work done in the twentieth century by researchers. Most notably, the Irish Folklore Commission was sent in with recording equipment in 1948 by Éamon de Valera. Also important in preserving the Manx language was work conducted by the late Brian Stowell, who is considered personally responsible for the current revival of the Manx language. The Manx Language Strategy was released in 2017, outlining a five-year plan for the language's continued revitalisation. Culture Vannin employs a Manx Language Development Officer (Manx: Yn Greinneyder) to encourage and facilitate the use of the language.
In 2009, UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger declared Manx an extinct language, despite the presence of hundreds of speakers on the Isle of Man. Since then, UNESCO's classification of the language has changed to "critically endangered".
In the 2011 census, 1,823 out of 80,398 Isle of Man residents, or 2.27% of the population, claimed to have knowledge of Manx, an increase of 134 people from the 2001 census. These were spread roughly uniformly over the island: in Douglas 566 people professed an ability to speak, read or write Manx; 179 in Peel, 146 in Onchan, and 149 in Ramsey.
Traditional Manx given names are once again becoming common on the island, especially Moirrey and Voirrey (Mary, properly pronounced similarly to the Scottish Moira, but often mispronounced as Moiree/Voiree when used as a given name by non-Manx speakers), Illiam (William), Orry (from the Manx king Godred Crovan of Norse origin), Breeshey (also Breesha) (Bridget), Aalish (also Ealish) (Alice), Juan (Jack), Ean (Ian), Joney (John), Fenella (Fionnuala), Pherick (Patrick) and Freya (from the Norse goddess) remain popular.
Number of speakers by year
Because Manx has never had a large number of speakers, it has never been practical to produce large amounts of written literature. However, a body of oral literature did exist. The "Fianna" tales and others like them are known, including the Manx ballad Fin as Oshin, commemorating Finn MacCool and Ossian. With the coming of Protestantism, Manx spoken tales slowly disappeared, while a tradition of carvals - religious songs or carols - developed with religious sanction.
As far as is known, there was no distinctively Manx written literature before the Reformation. By that time, any presumed literary link with Ireland and Scotland, such as through Irish-trained priests, had been lost. The first published literature in Manx was The Principles and Duties of Christianity (Coyrie Sodjey), translated by Bishop of Sodor and Man Thomas Wilson.
The Book of Common Prayer was translated by John Phillips, the Welsh-born Anglican Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1605 to 1633. The early Manx script has some similarities with orthographical systems found occasionally in Scotland and in Ireland for the transliteration of Gaelic, such as the Book of the Dean of Lismore, as well as some extensive texts based on English and Scottish English orthographical practices of the time. Little secular Manx literature has been preserved.
The New Testament was first published in 1767. When the Anglican church authorities started to produce written literature in the Manx language in the 18th century, the system developed by John Philips was further "anglicised"; the one feature retained from Welsh orthography was the use of ⟨y⟩ to represent schwa (e.g. cabbyl [kaːβəl] "horse" and cooney [kuːnə] "help" as well as /ɪ/ (e.g. fys [fɪz] "knowledge"), though it is also used to represent [j], as in English (e.g. y Yuan [ə juːan] "John" (vocative), yeeast [jiːəst] "fish").
Other works produced in the 18th and 19th centuries include catechisms, hymn books and religious tracts. A translation of Paradise Lost was made in 1796.
A considerable amount of secular literature has been produced in the 20th and 21st centuries as part of the language revival. In 2006, the first full-length novel in Manx, Dunveryssyn yn Tooder-Folley (The Vampire Murders) was published by Brian Stowell, after being serialised in the press. There is an increasing amount of literature available in the language, and recent publications include Manx versions of the Gruffalo and Gruffalo's Child.
Manx is not officially recognised by any national or regional government, although its contribution to Manx culture and tradition is acknowledged by some governmental and non-governmental bodies. For example:
The Standing Orders of the House of Keys provide that: "The proceedings of the House shall be in English; but if a Member at any point pronounces a customary term or sentence in Manx Gaelic or any other language, the Speaker may call upon the Member for a translation." An example was at the sitting on 12 February 2019, when an MHK used the expression boghtnid, stated to mean "nonsense".
For the purpose of strengthening its contribution to local culture and community, Manx is recognised under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and in the framework of the British-Irish Council.
Manx is taught as a second language at all of the island's primary and secondary schools. The lessons are optional and instruction is provided by the Department of Education's Manx Language Team which teach up to A Level standard.
The Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, a primary school at St John's, has 67 children, as of September 2016, who receive nearly all of their education through the medium of the language. Children who have attended the school have the opportunity to receive some of their secondary education through the language at Queen Elizabeth II High School in Peel.
The playgroup organisation Mooinjer Veggey, which operates the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, runs a series of preschool groups that introduce the language.
Learning the language
There are an increasing number of resources available for those wanting to learn the language. The Manx Language Development Officer for Culture Vannin manages the Learnmanx.com website which has a wide variety of resources. These include mobile apps a new podcast in Manx, the 1000 words-in-Manx challenge and the Video-a-day in Manx series. The most recent development on the adult language front is the creation of a new on-line course, Say Something in Manx which has been created in conjunction with the Say Something in Welsh It is hoped that this will be the main way on-line learners will access the language from now on. 2016 also saw the launch of a new dictionary for learners published by Culture Vannin.
Two weekly programmes in Manx are available on medium wave on Manx Radio: Traa dy liooar on Monday and Jamys Jeheiney on Friday. The news in Manx is available on-line from Manx Radio, who have three other weekly programmes that use the language: Clare ny Gael; Shiaght Laa and Moghrey Jedoonee. Several news readers on Manx Radio also use a good deal of incidental Manx.
The Isle of Man Examiner has a monthly bilingual column in Manx.
The first film to be made in Manx – the 22-minute-long Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey (The Sheep [plural] Under the Snow) – premiered in 1983 and was entered for the 5th Celtic Film and Television Festival in Cardiff in 1984. It was directed by Shorys Y Creayrie (George Broderick) for Foillan Films of Laxey, and is about the background to an early 18th-century folk song. In 2013, a short film, Solace in Wicca, was produced with financial assistance from Culture Vannin, CinemaNX and Isle of Man Film. A series of short cartoons about the life of Cuchulain which were produced by BBC Northern Ireland are available as are a series of cartoons on Manx mythology. Most significant is a 13-part DVD series Manx translation of the award-winning series Friends and Heroes.
Bilingual road, street, village and town boundary signs are common throughout the Isle of Man. All other road signs are in English only.
Business signage in Manx is gradually being introduced but is not mandated by law; however, the 1985 Tynwald Report on the use of Manx states that signage should be bilingual except where a Manx phrase is the norm.
The Manx Bible
- In the time of Bishop Wilson it had been a constant source of complaint among the Manx clergy that they were the only church in Christendom that had no version of the Bible in the vulgar tongue. Wilson set to work to remedy the defect, and, with the assistance of some of his clergy, managed to get some of the Bible translated, and the Gospel of St. Matthew printed. Bishop Hildesley, his successor, with the help of the whole body of Manx clergy, completed the work, and in 1775 the whole Bible was printed.
The Bible was first produced in Manx by a group of Anglican clergymen on the island. The Gospel of Matthew was printed in 1748. The four Gospels were produced in 1763 and Conaant Noa nyn Jiarn as Saualtagh Yeesey Creest (the New Testament of our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ) in 1767 by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK). In 1772 the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew and printed, together with the Books of Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) from the Apocrypha. Yn Vible Casherick (The Holy Bible) of the Old and New Testaments was published as one book by the SPCK in 1775. The bicentenary was celebrated on the Isle of Man in 1975 and included a set of stamps from the Isle of Man Post Office.
This 1775 edition effectively fixed the modern orthography of Manx Gaelic, which has changed little since. Jenner claims that some bowdlerisation had occurred in the translation, e.g. the occupation of Rahab the prostitute is rendered as ben-oast, a hostess or female inn-keeper.
There was a translation of the Psalmyn Ghavid (Psalms of David) in metre in Manx by the Rev John Clague, vicar of Rushen, which was printed with the Book of Common Prayer of 1768. Bishop Hildesley required that these Metrical Psalms were to be sung in churches. These were reprinted by the Manx Language Society in 1905.
The British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) published the Conaant Noa (New Testament) in 1810 and reprinted it in 1824. Yn Vible Casherick (the Holy Bible) of the Old Testament and New Testament (without the two books of the Apocrypha) was first printed as a whole in 1819. BFBS last printed anything on paper in Manx in 1936 when it reprinted Noo Ean (the Gospel of St John); this was reprinted by Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh (The Manx Gaelic Society) in 1968. The Manx Bible was republished by Shearwater Press in July 1979 as Bible Chasherick yn Lught Thie (Manx Family Bible), which was a reproduction of the BFBS 1819 Bible.
Since 2014 the BFBS 1936 Manx Gospel of John has been available online on YouVersion and Bibles.org.
Manx was used in some churches into the late 19th century. Although church services in Manx were once fairly common, they occur infrequently now. Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh, the Manx Language Society, hold an annual Christmas service at locations around the island.
Classification and dialects
Manx is one of the three descendants of Old Irish (via Middle Irish and early Modern Gaelic), and is closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It shares a number of developments in phonology, vocabulary and grammar with Irish and Scottish Gaelic (in some cases only with dialects of these) and shows a number of unique changes. There are two attested historical dialects of Manx, Northern Manx and Southern Manx. A third dialect may have existed in-between, around Douglas.
Similarities and differences with Irish and Scottish Gaelic
Manx shares with Scottish Gaelic the partial loss of contrastive palatalisation of labial consonants; thus while in Irish the velarised consonants /pˠ bˠ fˠ w mˠ/ contrast phonemically with palatalised /pʲ bʲ fʲ vʲ mʲ/, in Scottish Gaelic and Manx, the phonemic contrast has been lost to some extent. A consequence of this phonemic merger is that Middle Irish unstressed word-final [əβʲ] (spelled -(a)ibh, -(a)imh in Irish and Gaelic) has merged with [əβ] (-(e)abh, -(e)amh) in Manx; both have become [u], spelled -oo or -u(e). Examples include shassoo ("to stand"; Irish seasamh), credjue ("religion"; Irish creideamh), nealloo ("fainting"; Early Modern Irish (i) néalaibh, lit. in clouds), and erriu ("on you (plural)"; Irish oraibh).
Medial and final *bh and *mh have become /u/ and /w/ in general in Manx, thus shiu 'you PL', Scottish and Irish Gaelic sibh (siph in Northern Irish, sib in South Connacht Irish; Lewis Gàidhlig has the variant siù, besides the more general sibh), -bh in final consonant clusters, e.g. Manx sharroo 'bitter', Scottish searbh /ʃærav/, Northern and Western Irish searbh /ʃæru/, Southern Irish searbh /ʃærəβ/, between vowels, e.g. Manx awin 'river', Scottish abhainn /aviɲ/, Irish abhainn /aunʲ/, word-finally in monosyllables, e.g. Manx laaue 'hand', Scottish làmh /la:v/, Northern Irish /læ:w/, Western Irish lámh /lɑ:w/, Southern Irish /lɑ:β/, at the end of stressed syllables (see further below), as in sourey 'summer', Scotland and Ireland samhradh, Scottish /saurəɣ/, Northern Irish /sauru/, Western and Southern Irish /saurə/. In all this Manx is most like Northern Irish. Rare retentions of the older pronunciation of "bh" include Divlyn, Divlin 'Dublin', Middle Irish Duibhlinn /d̪uβʲlʲinʲ:/, also written Duibhlinn in Modern Irish and Scots Gaelic.
Moreover, similarly to Munster Irish, historical bh [βʲ] and mh (nasalised [βʲ]) tend to be lost in the middle or at the end of a word in Manx, either with compensatory lengthening or vocalisation as u resulting in diphthongisation with the preceding vowel. For example, Manx geurey ("winter") [ˈɡʲeurə], [ˈɡʲuːrə] and sleityn ("mountains") [ˈsleːdʒən] correspond to Irish geimhreadh and sléibhte (Southern Irish dialect spelling and pronunciation gíre ([ˈɟiːɾʲə]) and sléte ([ˈʃlʲeːtʲə])). Another similarity to Munster Irish is the development of the Old Irish diphthongs [oi ai] before velarised consonants (spelled ao in Irish and Scottish Gaelic) to [eː] in many words, as in seyr ("carpenter") [seːr] and keyl ("narrow") [keːl] (spelled saor and caol in Irish and Scottish, and pronounced virtually the same in Munster).
Like western and northern dialects of Irish (cf. Irish phonology) and most dialects of Scottish Gaelic, Manx has changed the historical consonant clusters /kn ɡn mn tn/ to /kr ɡr mr tr/. For example, Middle Irish cnáid ("mockery") and mná ("women") have become craid and mraane respectively in Manx. The affrication of [t̪ʲ d̪ʲ] to [tʃ dʒ] is also common to Manx, northern Irish, and Scottish Gaelic.
Also like northern and western dialects of Irish, as well as like southern dialects of Scottish Gaelic (e.g. Arran, Kintyre), the unstressed word-final syllable [iʝ] of Middle Irish (spelled -(a)idh and -(a)igh) has developed to [iː] in Manx, where it is spelled -ee, as in kionnee ("buy"; cf. Irish ceannaigh) and cullee ("apparatus"; cf. Gaelic culaidh).
Another property Manx shares with Ulster Irish and some dialects of Scottish Gaelic is that /a/ rather than /ə/ appears in unstressed syllables before /x/ (in Manx spelling, agh), for example jeeragh ("straight") [ˈdʒiːrax] (Irish díreach), cooinaghtyn ("to remember") [ˈkuːnʲaxt̪ən] (Gaelic cuimhneachd).
Like southern and western varieties of Irish and northern varieties of Scottish Gaelic, but unlike the geographically closer varieties of Ulster Irish and Arran and Kintyre Gaelic, Manx shows vowel lengthening or diphthongisation before the Old Irish fortis and lenis sonorants. For example, cloan ("children") [klɔːn], dhone ("brown") [d̪oːn], eeym ("butter") [iːᵇm] correspond to Irish/Scottish Gaelic clann, donn, and im respectively, which have long vowels or diphthongs in western and southern Irish and in the Scottish Gaelic dialects of the Outer Hebrides and Skye, thus western Irish [klˠɑːn̪ˠ], Southern Irish/Northern Scottish [kl̪ˠaun̪ˠ], [d̪ˠaun̪ˠ]/[d̪ˠoun̪ˠ], [iːm]/[ɤim]), but short vowels and 'long' consonants in northern Irish, Arran, and Kintyre, [kl̪ˠan̪ːˠ], [d̪ˠon̪ːˠ] and [imʲː].
Another similarity with southern Irish is the treatment of Middle Irish word-final unstressed [əð], spelled -(e)adh in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. In nouns (including verbal nouns), this became [ə] in Manx, as it did in southern Irish, e.g. caggey ("war") [ˈkaːɣə], moylley ("to praise") [ˈmɔlə]; cf. Irish cogadh and moladh, pronounced [ˈkˠɔɡˠə] and [ˈmˠɔl̪ˠə] in southern Irish. In finite verb forms before full nouns (as opposed to pronouns) [əð] became [ax] in Manx, as in southern Irish, e.g. voyllagh [ˈvɔlax] ("would praise"), cf. Irish mholfadh, pronounced [ˈβˠɔl̪ˠhəx] in southern Irish.
Linguistic analysis of the last few dozen native speakers reveals a number of dialectal differences between the northern and the southern parts of the island. Northern Manx was reflected by speakers from towns and villages from Maughold in the northeast of the island to Peel on the west coast. Southern Manx was used by speakers from the sheading of Rushen. It is possible that written Manx represents a 'midlands' dialect of Douglas and surrounding areas.
In Southern Manx, older á and in some cases ó became [æː]. In Northern Manx the same happened, but á sometimes remained [aː] as well. For example, laa ("day", cf. Irish lá) was [læː] in the south but [læː] or [laː] in the north. Old ó is always [æː] in both dialects, e.g. aeg ("young", cf. Irish óg) is [æːɡ] in both dialects. In many words before rt, rd and rg, and in one or two other words á, lengthened a and ó have become /œː/, as in paayrt 'part' /pœːrt/, ard 'high' /œːrd/, jiarg 'red' /dʒœːrɡ/, argid 'money, silver' /œːrɡid/ and aarey 'gold GEN' /œːrə/.
In Northern Manx, older (e)a before nn in the same syllable is diphthongised, while in Southern Manx it is lengthened but remains a monophthong. For example, kione ("head", cf. Irish ceann) is [kʲaun] in the north but [kʲoːn] in the south.
Words with ua and in some cases ao in Irish and Scottish are spelled with eay in Manx. In Northern Manx, this sound was [iː], while in Southern Manx it was [ɯː], [uː], or [yː]. For example, geay ("wind", cf. Irish gaoth) is [ɡiː] in the north and [ɡɯː] in the south, while geayl ("coal", cf. Irish gual) is [ɡiːl] in the north and [ɡyːl], [ɡɯːl], or [ɡuːl] in the south.
In both the north and the south, there is a tendency to insert a short [d] sound before a word-final [n] in monosyllabic words, as in [sleᵈn] for slane ("whole") and [beᵈn] for ben ("woman"). This phenomenon is known as pre-occlusion. In Southern Manx, however, there is pre-occlusion of [d] before [l] and of [ɡ] before [ŋ], as in [ʃuːᵈl] for shooyl ("walking") and [lɔᶢŋ] for lhong ("ship"). These forms are generally pronounced without pre-occlusion in the north. Preocclusion of [b] before [m], on the other hand, is more common in the north, as in trome ("heavy"), which is [t̪roᵇm] in the north but [t̪roːm] or [t̪roːᵇm] in the south. This feature is also found in Cornish.
Southern Manx tended to lose word-initial [ɡ] before [lʲ], while Northern Manx usually preserved it, e.g. glion ("glen") is [ɡlʲɔᵈn] in the north and [lʲɔᵈn] in the south, and glioon ("knee") is [ɡlʲuːn] in the north and [lʲuːᵈn] in the south.
Some simple conversational words and phrases:
|English (Baarle)||Manx (Gaelg)|
|Good morning||Moghrey mie|
|Good afternoon/evening||Fastyr mie|
|Good night||Oie vie|
|How are you?||Kys t'ou? ("tu" form)|
Kys to shiu (plural)
Kynas ta shiu? ("vous" form)
|Very well||Feer vie|
|Thank you||Gura mie ayd ("tu" form)|
Gura mie eu ("vous" form)
|And yourself?||As oo hene?|
As shiu hene?
|Yessir (Manx English equivalent of "man" (US: "dude"), as an informal term of address; found as a dhuine in Irish and Scottish)||Whooiney|
|Isle of Man||Ellan Vannin|
The Manx orthography is unlike that of Irish and Scottish Gaelic, both of which use similar spelling systems derived from written Early Modern Irish, alt. Classical Irish, which was the language of the educated Gaelic elite of both Ireland and Scotland (where it is called Classical Gaelic) until the mid-19th century. In general, these orthographies retain spelling and derivation from older Gaelic, which means that there is not in a one-to-one system. Both systems use only 18 letters to represent around 50 phonemes. While Manx in effect uses the English spelling system, except for ⟨x⟩ and ⟨z⟩, the 24 letters used in its orthography likewise covers a similar range of phonemes, and therefore many digraphs and trigraphs are used.
The Manx orthography was developed by people who were unaware of traditional Gaelic orthography, as they had learned literacy in Welsh and English (the initial development in the 16th century), then only English (later developments). Therefore, the orthography is based on early Modern English pronunciation, and to a small extent Welsh, rather than from a pan-Gaelic point of view. The result is an inconsistent and only partially phonemic spelling system, in a similar way as spelling in English. T. F. O'Rahilly expressed the opinion that Gaelic in the Isle of Man was saddled with an inadequate spelling which is neither traditional nor phonetic; if the traditional Gaelic orthography had been preserved, the close kinship that exists between Manx Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic would be obvious to all at first sight.
There is no evidence of Gaelic script having been used on the island.
Manx uses relatively few diacritics, but a cedilla is often (but not exclusively) used to differentiate between the two pronunciations of ch:
- Çhiarn (/ˈt͡ʃaːrn/), meaning lord, is pronounced with the palato-alveolar affricate /t͡ʃ/, as in the English "church"
- Chamoo (/xaˈmu/), meaning nor or neither, is pronounced with the velar fricative /x/, as in the Scottish pronunciation of the word "loch" (/ˈlɒx/), a sound which is commonly represented by gh at the ends of words in Manx (as it often is in the English of Ireland).
The following examples are taken from Broderick 1984–86, 1:178–79 and 1:350–53. The first example is from a speaker of Northern Manx, the second from Ned Maddrell, a speaker of Southern Manx.
|V'ad smooinaghtyn dy beagh cabbyl jeeaghyn skee as deinagh ayns y voghree dy beagh eh er ve ec ny ferrishyn fud ny h-oie as beagh ad cur lesh yn saggyrt dy cur e vannaght er.||vod̪ ˈsmuːnʲaxt̪ən d̪ə biəx ˈkaːbəl dʒiːən skiː as ˈd̪øinʲax uns ə ˈvoːxəri d̪ə biəx e er vi ek nə ˈferiʃən fod̪ nə høi as biəx əd̪ kør leʃ ən ˈsaːɡərt̪ d̪ə kør ə ˈvanax er||They used to think if a horse was looking tired and weary in the morning then it had been with the fairies all night and they would bring the priest to put his blessing on it.|
|Va ben aynshoh yn çhiaghtin chaie as v'ee laccal mish dy ynsagh ee dy gra yn Padjer yn Çhiarn. Dooyrt ee dy row ee gra eh tra v'ee inneen veg, agh t'eh ooilley jarroodit eck, as v'ee laccal gynsagh eh reesht son dy gra eh ec vrastyl ny red ennagh. As dooyrt mish dy jinnagh mee jannoo my share son dy cooney lhee as ren ee çheet aynshoh son dy clashtyn eh, as vel oo laccal dy clashtyn mee dy gra eh?||və ˈbɛn əˈsoː ən ˈtʃaːn ˈkai as vai ˈlaːl ˈmiʃ ði ˈjinðax i ðə ˈɡreː in ˈpaːdʒər ən ˈtʃaːrn ‖ d̪ot̪ i ðə ˈrau i ɡreː a ˈt̪reː vai iˈnʲin ˈveːɡ ‖ ax t̪e ˈolʲu dʒaˈrud̪ətʃ ek ‖ as vei ˈlaːl ˈɡʲinðax a ˈriːʃ san ðə ˈɡreː ə əɡ ˈvraːst̪əl nə ˈrið ənax ‖ as ˈd̪ut̪ miʃ ðə ˈdʒinax mi ˈdʒinu mə ˈʃeː san ðə ˈkunə lʲei as ˈrenʲ i ˈtʃit̪ oˈsoː san ðə ˈklaːʃtʲən a ‖ as vel u ˈlaːl ðə ˈklaːʃtʲən mi ðə ˈɡreː a ‖||There was a woman here last week and she wanted me to teach her to say the Lord's Prayer. She said that she used to say it when she was a little girl, but she has forgotten it all, and she wanted to learn it again to say it at a class or something. And I said I would do my best to help her and she came here to hear it, and do you want to hear me say it?|
Gaelic versions of the Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer has been translated into all the Goidelic tongues. Although the wordings are not completely cognate, they demonstrate the different orthographies.
|a...e, ia...e||/eː/||slane, buggane, kiare|
|baatey, aashagh |
/ɯː/, /uː/ or /yː/ (south)
|yeeast, keead |
|eei, eey||/iː/||feeid, dreeym, meeyl|
|eddin, ruggit |
|çhiarn, shiaght |
|o, oi||/ɔ/ or /ɑ/
/ɔː/ or /ɑː/
bodjal, logh, moir
vondeish, bolg, bunscoill
|oie||/ei/ or /iː/||oie|
|oo, ioo, ooh||/uː/||shassoo, cooney, glioon, ooh|
|u, ui, iu||stressed||/ʊ/
ruggit, ushag, duillag, fuill
|uy||/ɛi/ or /iː/||nuy|
y Yuan, yeeast
|b, bb||usually||/b/||bunscoill, ben|
|between vowels||/β/ or /v/||cabbyl|
|c, cc, ck||usually||/k/||bunscoill, cloan|
|çh, tçh||/tʃ/||çhiarn, çhengey, paitçhey|
|d, dd, dh||broad||/d̪/||keead, ardnieu, tedd, dhone|
|slender||/dʲ/ or /dʒ/||feeid|
|broad, between vowels||/ð/||eddin, moddey|
|g, gg||broad||/ɡ/||Gaelg, Ghaelgagh|
|between vowels||/ɣ/||veggey, ruggit|
|finally or before t||/x/||jeeragh, clagh, cooinaghtyn|
|j, dj||usually||/dʒ/||mooinjer, jeeragh|
|l, ll||broad||/l/||Gaelg, sleityn, moylley|
|slender||/lʲ/||glion, blein, feill, billey|
|finally, in monosyllabic words (S only)||/ᵈl/||shooyl|
|m, mm||normally||/m/||mooinjer, dreeym, famman|
|finally, in monosyllabic words (N only)||/ᵇm/||eeym, trome|
|n||broad||/n/||bunscoill, cooinaghtyn, ennym|
|slender||/nʲ/||ardnieu, collaneyn, dooinney, geinnagh|
|finally, in monosyllabic words||/ᵈn/||slane, ben|
|slender, finally, in monosyllabic words||/ᵈnʲ/||ein|
|finally, in monosyllabic words (S only)||/ᶢŋ/||lhong|
|p, pp||usually||/p/||peccah, padjer|
|r, rr||usually||/r/||geurey, jeeragh, ferrishyn|
|finally||[ɹ̝] or [ə̯]||aer, faiyr|
|bunscoill, sleityn, cass|
|initially before n||/ʃ/||sniaghtey|
|aashagh, ushag |
|t, tt, th||broad||/t̪/||trome, cooinaghtyn, thalloo|
|slender||/tʲ/ or /tʃ/||poosit, ushtey, tuittym|
|broad, between vowels||/d̪/
|slender, between vowels||/dʲ/ or /dʒ/||sleityn|
The voiceless plosives are pronounced with aspiration. The dental, postalveolar and palato-velar plosives /t̪ d̪ tʲ dʲ kʲ/ are affricated to [t̪͡θ d̪͡ð t͡ʃ d͡ʒ k͡xʲ] in many contexts.
Manx has an optional process of lenition of plosives between vowels, whereby voiced plosives and voiceless fricatives become voiced fricatives and voiceless plosives become either voiced plosives or voiced fricatives. This process introduces the allophones [β ð z ʒ] to the series of voiced fricatives in Manx. The voiced fricative [ʒ] may be further lenited to [j], and [ɣ] may disappear altogether. Examples include:
- Voiceless plosive to voiced plosive
- /t̪/ > [d̪]: brattag [ˈbrad̪aɡ] "flag, rag"
- /k/ > [ɡ]: peccah [ˈpɛɡə] "sin"
- Voiceless plosive to voiced fricative
- /p/ > [v]: cappan [ˈkavan] "cup"
- /t̪/ > [ð]: baatey [ˈbɛːðə] "boat"
- /k/ > [ɣ]: feeackle [ˈfiːɣəl] "tooth"
- Voiced plosive to voiced fricative
- /b/ > [v]: cabbyl [ˈkaːvəl] "horse"
- /d̪/ > [ð]: eddin [ˈɛðənʲ] "face"
- /dʲ/ > [ʒ]: padjer [ˈpaːʒər] "prayer"
- /dʲ/ > [ʒ] > [j]: maidjey [ˈmaːʒə], [ˈmaːjə] "stick"
- /ɡ/ > [ɣ]: ruggit [ˈroɣət] "born"
- Voiceless fricative to voiced fricative
- /s/ > [ð] or [z]: poosit [ˈpuːðitʲ] or [ˈpuːzitʲ] "married"
- /s/ > [ð]: shassoo [ˈʃaːðu] "stand"
- /ʃ/ > [ʒ]: aashagh [ˈɛːʒax] "easy"
- /ʃ/ > [ʒ] > [j]: toshiaght [ˈt̪ɔʒax], [ˈt̪ɔjax] "beginning"
- /x/ > [ɣ]: beaghey [ˈbɛːɣə] "live"
- /x/ > [ɣ] > ∅: shaghey [ʃaː] "past"
Another optional process of Manx phonology is pre-occlusion, the insertion of a very short plosive consonant before a sonorant consonant. In Manx, this applies to stressed monosyllabic words (i.e. words one syllable long). The inserted consonant is homorganic with the following sonorant, which means it has the same place of articulation. Long vowels are often shortened before pre-occluded sounds. Examples include:
- /m/ > [ᵇm]: trome /t̪roːm/ > [t̪roᵇm] "heavy"
- /n/ > [ᵈn]: kione /kʲoːn/ > [kʲoᵈn] "head"
- /nʲ/ > [ᵈnʲ]: ein /eːnʲ/ > [eːᵈnʲ], [eᵈnʲ] "birds"
- /ŋ/ > [ᶢŋ]: lhong /loŋ/ > [loᶢŋ] "ship"
- /l/ > [ᵈl]: shooyll /ʃuːl/ > [ʃuːᵈl] "walking"
The trill /r/ is realised as a one- or two-contact flap [ɾ] at the beginning of syllable, and as a stronger trill [r] when preceded by another consonant in the same syllable. At the end of a syllable, /r/ can be pronounced either as a strong trill [r] or, more frequently, as a weak fricative [ɹ̝], which may vocalise to a nonsyllabic [ə̯] or disappear altogether. This vocalisation may be due to the influence of Manx English, which is itself a non-rhotic accent. Examples of the pronunciation of /r/ include:
- ribbey "snare" [ˈɾibə]
- arran "bread" [ˈaɾan]
- mooar "big" [muːr], [muːɹ̝], [muːə̯], [muː]
The status of [æ] and [æː] as separate phonemes is debatable, but is suggested by the allophony of certain words such as ta "is", mraane "women", and so on. An alternative analysis is that Manx has the following system, where the vowels /a/ and /aː/ have allophones ranging from [ɛ]/[ɛː] through [æ]/[æː] to [a]/[aː]. As with Irish and Scottish Gaelic, there is a large amount of vowel allophony, such as that of /a/, /aː/. This depends mainly on the 'broad' and 'slender' status of the neighbouring consonants:
|/i/, /iː/||[i], [iː]||[ɪ], [ɪː]|
|/əi/ (Middle Gaelic)||[iː]||[ɛː], [ɯː], [ɪː]|
|/o/, /oː/||[o], [oː]||[ɔ], [ɔː]|
|/u/, /uː/||[u], [uː]||[ø~ʊ], [uː]|
|/uə/ (Middle Gaelic)||[iː], [yː]||[ɪː], [ɯː], [uː]|
Manx has a relatively large number of diphthongs, all of them falling:
|Close||ui||iə • uə|
|Mid||ei • əi • oi||eu • əu|
Initial consonant mutations
Like all modern Celtic languages, Manx shows initial consonant mutations, which are processes by which the initial consonant of a word is altered according to its morphological and/or syntactic environment. Manx has two mutations: lenition and eclipsis, found on nouns and verbs in a variety of environments; adjectives can undergo lenition but not eclipsis. In the late spoken language of the 20th century the system was breaking down, with speakers frequently failing to use mutation in environments where it was called for, and occasionally using it in environments where it was not called for.
- Not attested in the late spoken language (Broderick 1984–86, 3:66)
In the corpus of the late spoken language, there is also one example of the eclipsis (nasalisation) of /ɡ/: the sentence Ta mee er ngeddyn yn eayn ("I have found the lamb"), where ng is pronounced /n/. However, probably this was a mis-transcription; the verbal noun in this case is not geddyn "get, fetch", but rather feddyn "find".
Manx nouns fall into one of two genders, masculine or feminine. Nouns are inflected for number. The plural is formed in a variety of ways, most commonly by addition of the suffix -yn [ən], but also by vowel change, changing -agh [ax] to -ee [iː] or -eeghyn [iːən] or by adding other endings. There is usually no inflection for case, except in a minority of nouns that have a distinct genitive singular form, which is formed in various ways. (Most common is the addition of the suffix -ey [ə] to feminine nouns.) Historical genitive singulars are often encountered in compounds even when they are no longer productive forms; for example thie-ollee "cowhouse" uses the old genitive of ollagh "cattle". There are also traces of a dative singular in set phrases such as ry-chosh "on foot", contrasting with nominative cass and genitive coshey (cf. cullee choshey "footwear", bluckan coshey "football, soccer, rugby").
Certain adjectives have plural as well as singular forms (through the addition -ey [ə]), although the use of the singular adjective with a plural noun is usual. Most adjectives end in -agh [ax] and form their comparative/superlative form by replacing this with -ee [iː], e.g. atçhimagh "terrible" becomes atçhimee, giving ny s'atçhimee "more terrible" and s'atçhimee "most terrible". As in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, the comparative-superlative is commonly marked by the copula verb s (is) in the present, and by in the past; the superlative is often shown by the word "nys" /nis/, from Middle Irish ní as "thing that is" (cf. Irish níos, past ní ba). A number of adjectives form their comparative/superlative irregularly:
The comparative/superlative can also be formed using smoo "more" with the positive form e.g. s'thrimmey = smoo trome.
In common with Irish and Scottish Gaelic, in addition to its regular personal pronouns, Manx has also a series used for emphasis. Under certain phonological circumstances, these can be used as unemphatic pronouns, e.g. "you were not" is cha row uss [xa ˈrau ʊs] as cha row oo [xa ˈrau u(ː)] sounds too similar to cha row [xa ˈrau] "they/he/she was not".
Notice the only difference between the masculine and feminine third person singular possessive pronouns is the initial sound change, namely lenition and h-prefixing, they cause, e.g. e glioonag "her laptop", e ghlioonag "his laptop", e ooh "his egg", e hooh "her egg".
An alternative to using the possessive pronouns is to precede a noun with the definite article and follow it with the inflected form of ec "at" to show the person, e.g. yn thie aym "my house" (literally "the house at me") instead of my hie "my house". This is especially useful in the plural, where all persons share one possessive pronoun, e.g. yn thie oc "their house", as opposed to nyn dhie "our/your/their house".
1.^ Causes lenition.
2.^ Causes eclipsis.
Manx verbs generally form their finite forms by means of periphrasis: inflected forms of the auxiliary verbs ve "to be" or jannoo "to do" are combined with the verbal noun of the main verb. Only the future, conditional, preterite, and imperative can be formed directly by inflecting the main verb, but even in these tenses, the periphrastic formation is more common in Late Spoken Manx. Examples:
The future and conditional tenses (and in some irregular verbs, the preterite) make a distinction between "independent" and "dependent" forms. Independent forms are used when the verb is not preceded by any particle; dependent forms are used when a particle (e.g. cha "not") does precede the verb. For example, "you will lose" is caillee oo with the independent form caillee ("will lose"), while "you will not lose" is cha gaill oo with the dependent form caill (which has undergone eclipsis to gaill after cha). Similarly "they went" is hie ad with the independent form hie ("went"), while "they did not go" is cha jagh ad with the dependent form jagh. This contrast is inherited from Old Irish, which shows such pairs as beirid ("(s)he carries") vs. ní beir ("(s)he does not carry"), and is found in Scottish Gaelic as well, e.g. gabhaidh ("will take") vs. cha ghabh ("will not take"). In Modern Irish, the distinction is found only in irregular verbs (e.g. chonaic ("saw") vs. ní fhaca ("did not see").
The fully inflected forms of the regular verb tilgey "to throw" are as follows. In addition to the forms below, a past participle may be formed using -it: tilgit "thrown".
|Preterite||hilg||(same as independent)|
|Future||tilgym, tilgmayd, tilgee||dilgym, dilgmayd, dilgee||tilgys|
|Conditional||tilgin, tilgagh||dilgin, dilgagh|
|Imperative||tilg||(same as independent)|
1.^ First person singular, making the use of a following subject pronoun redundant
2.^ First person plural, making the use of a following subject pronoun redundant
3.^ Used with all other persons, meaning an accompanying subject must be stated, e.g. tilgee eh "he will throw", tilgee ad "they will throw"
There are a few peculiarities when a verb begins with a vowel, i.e. the addition of d' in the preterite and n' in the future and conditional dependent. Below is the conjugation of aase "to grow".
|Preterite||d'aase||(same as independent)|
|Future||aasym, aasmayd, aasee||n'aasym, n'aasmayd, n'aasee||aasys|
|Conditional||aasin, aasagh||n'aasin, n'aasagh|
|Imperative||aase||(same as independent)|
1.^ d' may also be spelt j when pronounced /dʲ/ [dʒ] i.e. before a slender vowel, e.g. "ate" can be either d'ee or jee.
These peculiarities extend to verbs beginning with f, e.g. faagail "to leave".
|Preterite||d'aag||(same as independent)|
|Future||faagym, faagmayd, faagee||vaagym, vaagmayd, vaagee,
n'aagym, n'aagmayd, n'aagee
|Conditional||aagin, aagagh||vaagin, vaagagh, n'aagin, n'aagagh|
|Imperative||faag||(same as independent)|
1.^ Again, d' may also be spelt j where appropriate.
A number of verbs are irregular in their inflection:
|çheet (come)||haink||daink||higgym, higmayd, hig||jiggym, jigmayd, jig||harrin, harragh||darrin, darragh||tar|
|clashtyn (hear)||cheayll||geayll||cluinnyn, cluinnee, cluinmayd||gluinnyn, gluinnee, gluinmayd||chluinnin, chluinnagh||gluinnin, gluinnagh||clasht||cluinit|
|cur (put, give)||hug||dug||verrym, vermayd, ver||derrym, dermayd, der||verrin, verragh||derrin, derragh||cur||currit|
|fakin (see)||honnick||vaik||hee'm, hemayd, hee||vaikym, vaikmyd, vaik||heein, heeagh||vaikin, vaikagh||jeeagh, cur-my-ner||faikinit|
|hooar||dooar||yioym, yiowmayd, yiow||voym, vowmayd, vow||yioin, yioghe||voin, voghe||fow||feddinynt (found),
|goll (go)||hie||jagh||hem, hemmayd, hed||jem, jemmayd, jed||raghin, ragh||(same as indep.)||gow, immee|
|gra (say)||dooyrt||(same as indep.)||jirrym, jirmayd, jir, abbyrym, abbyrmyd, abbyr||jirrym, jirmayd, jir,
niarrym, niarmayd, niar,
n'abbyrym, n'abbyrmyd, n'abbyr
|yiarrin, yiarragh||niarrin, niarragh||abbyr||grait|
|goaill (take)||ghow||(same as indep.)||goym, gowmayd, gowee||goym, gowmayd, gow||ghoin, ghoghe||goin, goghe||gow||goit|
|jean (do)||ren||(same as indep.)||nee'm, neemayd, nee||jeanym, jeanmayd, jean||yinnin, yinnagh||jinnin, jinnagh||jean||jeant|
1.^ Future relative: clinnys 2.^ Future relative: gowee
The most common and most irregular verb in Manx is ve "to be", often used as an auxiliary verb. In addition to the usual inflected tenses, ve also has a present tense. The full conjugation of ve "to be" is as follows.
|Future||bee'm, beemayd, bee||(same as independent)||vees|
|Conditional||veign, veagh||beign, beagh||–|
|Imperative||bee||(same as independent)||–|
Manx adverbs can be formed from adjectives by means of the word dy (< Middle Irish go "with, until"), e.g. mie "good", dy mie "well" (CF. Irish maith, go maith, Gaelic math, gu maith); gennal "cheerful", dy gennal "cheerfully". This dy is not used when preceded by such words as ro "too" and feer "very" or followed by dy liooar "enough", e.g. feer vie "very good, very well", gennal dy liooar "cheerful(ly) enough". The prepositional phrase for "home(wards)" is formed with dy "to" and the noun balley "place, town, homestead" to give dy valley, Cf. Irish abhaile, older do bhaile, whereas the noun thie "house, home" can be used unchanged to convey the same meaning.
The language has a number of adverbs corresponding to English "up" and "down", the meaning of which depend upon such things as motion or lack thereof and starting point in relation to the speaker.
|above the speaker||below the speaker|
|Stationary||heose /hoːs/||heese /hiːs/|
|Movement towards the speaker from||neose /noːs/||neese /niːs/|
|Movement away from the speaker to||seose /soːs/||sheese /ʃiːs/|
Examples of practical usage are Ta dooinney heese y traid "There's a man down the street" and Ta mee goll sheese y traid "I'm going down the street", Jean drappal neese "Climb up (towards me)" and Jean drappal seose "Climb up (away from me)".
Like the other Insular Celtic languages, Manx has so-called inflected prepositions, contractions of a preposition with a pronominal direct object, as the following common prepositions show. Note the sometimes identical form of the uninflected preposition and its third person singular masculine inflected form.
|Third singular||Masculine||ass||ayn||da||echey||er||fo||huggey||jeh||lesh||marish||rish||roish||voish, veih|
|Third plural||assdoo, assdaue||ayndoo, ayndaue||daue||oc||orroo||foue||huc||jeu||lhieu||maroo||roo||roue, rhymboo||voue|
In addition to the above "simple" prepositions, Manx has a number of prepositional phrases based on a noun; being based on nouns, the possessive personal pronouns are used to refer to what would in English be pronominal prepositional objects. This also happens in English phrases such as "for my sake".
"for the sake of"
|From Middle Irish||for os ciond
'on/at over head'
'track, trail, trace'
'in face DAT'
|A Northern Gaelic nominalisation of the Middle Irish 3rd person singular preposition *tromhaid 'through him/it', originally found as the article form, cf. Irish tríd an 'through the')|
|First singular||er-my-skyn||my-my-chione||er-my-hon||my lurg||m'oi||my hrooid|
|Second singular||er-dty-skyn||my-dty-chione||er-dty-hon||dty lurg||dt'oi||dty hrooid|
|Third singular||Masculine||er-e-skyn||my-e-chione||er-e-hon||e lurg||n'oi||e hrooid|
|Feminine||er-e-skyn||my-e-kione||er-e-son||e lurg||ny hoi||e trooid|
|Plural||er-nyn-skyn||my-nyn-gione||er-nyn-son||nyn lurg||nyn oi||nyn drooid|
Alternative conjugation patterns are sometimes found with these more complex prepositions using inflected prepositions, e.g. mychione aym for my-my-chione "concerning me", son ain "for our sake" instead of er-nyn-son "for our/your/their sake".
|[æːn], [oːn], [uːn]
|one||aon [eːn], [iːn], [ɯːn]||aon [ɯːn]|
|two||dó [d̪ˠoː], dhá/dá [ɣaː]/[d̪ˠaː]
(people only) dís [dʲiːʃ]
|tree||[t̪riː]||three||trí [t̪ʲrʲiː]||trì [t̪ʰɾiː]|
|kiare||[kʲæːə(r)]||four||ceathair, ceithre [cahɪrʲ], [cerʲhʲɪ]||ceithir [ˈkʲʰehɪɾʲ]|
|queig||[kweɡ]||five||cúig [kuːɟ]||còig [kʰoːkʲ]|
|shey||[ʃeː]||six||sé [ʃeː]||sia [ʃiə]|
|shiaght||[ʃæːx]||seven||seacht [ʃaxt]||seachd [ʃɛxk], [ʃaxk]|
|hoght||[hoːx]||eight||ocht [oxt] (dialect hocht [hoxt])||ochd [ɔxk]|
|nuy||[nɛi], [nøi], [niː]||nine||naoi [nˠeː], [nˠiː], [nˠəi]||naoi [n̪ˠɤi]|
|jeih||[dʒɛi]||ten||deich [dʲeh], [dʒeç], [dʒei]||deich [tʲeç]|
|nane jeig||[neːn dʒeɡ]||eleven||aon déag [eːn dʲiaɡ], [iːn dʲeːɡ], [iːn/ɯːn dʒeːɡ]||aon deug/diag [ɯːn dʲe:k], [ɯːn dʲiək]|
|daa yeig||[d̪eiɡʲ]||twelve||dó dhéag, dhá dhéag, dá dhéag [d̪ˠoː jiaɡ], [d̪ˠoː jeːɡ], [ɣaː jeːɡ], [d̪ˠaː jeːɡ]||dà dheug/dhiag [t̪aː ʝe:k], [t̪aː ʝiək]|
|tree jeig||[t̪ri dʒeɡ]||thirteen||trí déag [t̪ʲrʲiː dʲiaɡ], [t̪ʲrʲiː dʲeːɡ], [t̪ʲrʲiː dʒeːɡ]||trì deug/diag [t̪ʰɾiː tʲe:k], [t̪ʰɾiː tʲiək]|
|feed||[fiːdʒ]||twenty||fiche [fʲɪhʲɪ], [fʲɪçə]; fichid [fʲɪhʲɪdʲ], [fʲɪçɪdʒ] (dative)||fichead [fiçət̪]|
|keead||[kiːəd]||hundred||céad [ceːd], [ciad]||ceud, ciad [kʲʰe:t̪], [kʲʰiət̪]|
Like most Insular Celtic languages, Manx uses verb–subject–object word order: the inflected verb of a sentence precedes the subject, which itself precedes the direct object. However, as noted above, most finite verbs are formed periphrastically, using an auxiliary verb in conjunction with the verbal noun. In this case, only the auxiliary verb precedes the subject, while the verbal noun comes after the subject. The auxiliary verb may be a modal verb rather than a form of bee ("be") or jannoo ("do"). Particles like the negative cha ("not") precede the inflected verb. Examples:
|"The priest put his hand on her."|
|"The lambs used to eat the gorse."|
|"You can't see anything."|
When the auxiliary verb is a form of jannoo ("do"), the direct object precedes the verbal noun and is connected to it with the particle y:
|"They heard my voice."|
As in Irish (cf. Irish syntax#The forms meaning "to be"), there are two ways of expressing "to be" in Manx: with the substantive verb bee, and with the copula. The substantive verb is used when the predicate is an adjective, adverb, or prepositional phrase. Examples:
|"It is awful/frightening."|
|"He is well"|
|"He is in the ale-house (pub)."|
Where the predicate is a noun, it must be converted to a prepositional phrase headed by the preposition in ("in") + possessive pronoun (agreeing with the subject) in order for the substantive verb to be grammatical:
Otherwise, the copula is used when the predicate is a noun. The copula itself takes the form is or she in the present tense, but it is often omitted in affirmative statements:
In questions and negative sentences, the present tense of the copula is nee:
Manx vocabulary is predominantly of Goidelic origin, derived from Old Irish and closely related to words in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. However, Manx itself, as well as the languages from which it is derived, borrowed words from other languages as well, especially Latin, Old Norse, French (particularly Anglo-Norman), and English (both Middle English and Modern English).
The following table shows a selection of nouns from the Swadesh list and indicates their pronunciations and etymologies.
See Celtic Swadesh lists for the complete list in all the Celtic languages.
Foreign loanwords are primarily Norse and English, with a smaller number coming from French. Some examples of Norse loanwords are garey ("garden", from garðr, "enclosure") and sker meaning a sea rock (from sker, compare with skjær and sker). Examples of French loanwords are danjeyr ("danger", from danger) and vondeish ("advantage", from avantage).
English loanwords were common in late (pre-revival) Manx, e.g. boy ("boy"), badjer ("badger"), rather than the more usual Gaelic guilley and brock. Henry Jenner, on asking someone what he was doing, was told Ta mee smokal pipe ("I am smoking a pipe"), and that "[he] certainly considered that he was talking Manx, and not English, in saying it." In more recent years, there has been a reaction against such borrowing, resulting in coinages for technical vocabulary. Despite this, calques exist in Manx, not necessarily obvious to its speakers.
Some religious terms come ultimately from Latin, Greek and Hebrew, e.g. casherick (holy), from the Latin consecrātus; mooinjer (people) from the Latin monasterium (originally a monastery; agglish (church) from the Greek ἐκκλησία (ekklesia, literally meaning assembly) and abb (abbot) from the Hebrew "אבא" (abba, meaning "father"). These did not necessarily come directly into Manx, but via Old Irish. In more recent times, ulpan has been borrowed from modern Hebrew. Many Irish and English loanwords also have a classical origin, e.g. çhellveeish (Irish teilefís) and çhellvane meaning television and telephone respectively. Foreign language words (usually known via English) are used occasionally especially for ethnic food, e.g. chorizo, spaghetti.
To fill gaps in recorded Manx vocabulary, revivalists have referred to modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic for words and inspiration.
Going in the other direction, Manx Gaelic has influenced Manx English (Anglo-Manx). Common words and phrases in Anglo-Manx originating in the language include tholtan (the "th" is pronounced as a "t") meaning a ruined farmhouse, quaaltagh meaning a first-foot, keeill meaning a church (especially an old one), cammag, traa-dy-liooar meaning "time enough", and Tynwald (tinvaal), which is ultimately of Norse origin, but comes via Manx. It is suggested that the House of Keys takes its name from Kiare as Feed (four and twenty), which is the number of its sitting members.
Comparative vocabulary examples
|Manx Gaelic||Irish||Scots Gaelic||Welsh||English|
|Moghrey mie||Maidin mhaith||Madainn mhath||Bore da||good morning|
|Fastyr mie||Tráthnóna maith||Feasgar math||Prynhawn da
|Slane lhiat, Slane lhiu||Slán leat, Slán libh||Slàn leat, Slàn leibh||Hwyl fawr||goodbye|
|Gura mie ayd,
Gura mie eu
|Go raibh maith agat,
Go raibh maith agaibh
|creg||carraig||carraig, creag||carreg, craig||crag, rock|
|moddey||madra, madadh||cù||ci||dog, hound|
|eean||éan||eun, ian||aderyn, edn||bird|
|jees, daa||dá, dhá, dó; (people) beirt, dís||dà, dhà; (people) dithis||dau (m.)/dwy (f.)||two|
- Manx at Ethnologue (21st ed., 2018)
- Sarah Whitehead. "How the Manx language came back from the dead | Education". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- Jackson 1955, 49
- "Full text of "A dictionary of the Manks language, with the corresponding words or explanations in English : interspersed with many Gaelic proverbs, the parts of speech, the genders, and the accents of the Manks words are carefully marked : with some etymological observations, never before published"". Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- West, Andrew (30 June 2011). "The Ogham Stones of the Isle of Man". BabelStone. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- Ager, Simon. "A Study of Language Death and Revival with a Particular Focus on Manx Gaelic." Master's Dissertation University of Wales, Lampeter, 2009. PDF.
- George., Broderick (1999). Language death in the Isle of Man : an investigation into the decline and extinction of Manx Gaelic as a community language in the Isle of Man. Niemeyer. ISBN 9783110911411. OCLC 300505991.
- Gunther 1990, 59–60
- Whitehead, Sarah (2 April 2015). "How the Manx language came back from the dead". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
- "Isle of Man Government - Five year strategy salutes and celebrates Manx language". www.gov.im. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
- "Lifelines for indigenous languages | The World Weekly". www.theworldweekly.com. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
- "UN declares Manx Gaelic 'extinct'". bbc.co.uk. 20 February 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
- Isle of Man Census Report 2011 Archived 8 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Manx Gaelic Revival 'Impressive'". BBC News. 22 September 2005.
- "Censuses of Manx Speakers". www.isle-of-man.com. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
- Belchem, John (1 January 2000). A New History of the Isle of Man: The modern period 1830-1999. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 9780853237266.
- "2001 Isle of Man Census: Volume 2" (PDF). Gov.im. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "2011 Isle of Man Census" (PDF). Gov.im. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "pp2/5 Manx Ballads - Fin as Oshin". Isle-of-man.com. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- "Books - Lioaryn | Culture Vannin | Isle of Man". Culturevannin.im. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- Little Prince nr. PP-5326 / Gaelic Manx
- "Standing Orders of the House of Keys" (PDF). p. 17. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- House of Keys Hansard
- However this word appears to have been adopted into Manx English, see Braaid Eisteddfod: A poem by Annie Kissack (at 20 seconds)
- "Tynwald - the Parliament of the Isle of Man". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- "Isle of Man Department of Education, Sport and Culture Report AbuseHelp". Retrieved 16 June 2018.
- Eder, Birgit (2003). Ausgewählte Verwandtschaftsbezeichnungen in den Sprachen Europas. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. p. 301. ISBN 3631528736.
- "Manx Words". Learn Manx. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "Solace: A Film in Manx Gaelic". Youtube. 17 February 2014.
- "Cuchulainn Part One". Youtube. 17 February 2013.
- "Manannan Episode 4 (part two) Come Dine With Us". Youtube. 3 March 2014.
- "Gaelg (Manx) | Children's Animated Bible Stories | Friends and Heroes | UK Website". Friends and Heroes. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "Henry Jenner - The Manx Language, 1875". Isle-of-man.com. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:xxvii–xxviii, 160
- Jackson 1955, 66. Jackson claims that northern Irish has also lost the contrast between velarised and palatalised labials, but this seems to be a mistake on his part, as both Mayo Irish and Ulster Irish are consistently described as having the contrast (cf. Mhac an Fhailigh 1968, 27; Hughes 1994, 621; see also Ó Baoill 1978, 87)
- O'Rahilly 1932, 77–82; Broderick 1984–86, 2:152
- O'Rahilly 1932, 24; Broderick 1984–86 3:80–83; Ó Sé 2000:15, 120
- Jackson 1955, 47–50; Ó Cuív 1944, 38, 91
- O'Rahilly 1932, 22
- O'Rahilly 1932, 203
- O'Rahilly 1932, 57
- O'Rahilly 1932, 110; Jackson 1955, 55
- O'Rahilly 1932, 51; Jackson 1955, 57–58; Holmer 1957, 87, 88, 106; 1962, 41
- O'Rahilly 1932, 68; Broderick 1984–86, 2:56, 308
- O'Rahilly 1932, 75
- Broderick 1984–8,6 1:160
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:161
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:161–62
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:162–63
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:164–65
- Kelly 1870:xiii footnote in Spoken Sound as a Rule for Orthography, credited to W. Mackenzie.
- O'Rahilly 1932, 128
- MANX GAELIC ( Gaelig, Gaelg ) from www.christusrex.org. Source of text: "ORATIO DOMINICA – Polyglottos, Polymorphos – Nimirum, Plus Centum Linguis, Versionibus, aut Characteribus Reddita & Expressa" ("Lord's Prayer - many languages and forms - restored and rendered in certainly over 100 languages, versions or types"), Daniel Brown, London, 1713.
- Ta'n lhieggan shoh jeh'n Phadjer aascreeuit 'sy chlou Romanagh veih'n çhenn chlou Yernagh. Son d'akin er y lhieggan shen jeh'n phadjer gow dys y duillag shoh ec www.christusrex.org
- Thomson 1992, 128–29; Broderick 1993, 234
- Broderick 1984–86, 3:3–13; Thomson 1992, 129
- Broderick 1984–86, 3:28–34; 1993, 236
- Broderick 1984–86; 3:17–18
- Jackson 1955, 118; Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1998, Isle of Man, retrieved 28 September 2008
- Broderick 1993, 230–33
- Broderick 1993, 232–33
- Broderick 1993, 236
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:7–21; 1993, 236–39; Thomson 1992, 132–35
- (Broderick 1984–86 2:190, 3:66).
- Thomson 1992, 118–19; Broderick 1993, 239–40
- Goodwin, Edmund; Thomson, Robert (1966). First Lessons in Manx. Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh. p. 50.
- Gell, John (1989). Conversational Manx. St. Judes: Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh. p. 34. ISBN 1870029100.
- Broderick 1984–86, 75–82; 1993, 250, 271; Thomson 1992, 122
- The particle er is identical in form to the preposition er "on"; however, it is etymologically distinct, coming from Old Irish íar "after" (Williams 1994, 725).
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:92; 1992, 250; Thomson 1992, 122
- Broderick 1984–86, vol. 2
- Broderick 1993, 276
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:181
- Broderick 1984–86, 1:179
- Broderick 1993, 274
- Thomson 1992, 105
- Broderick 1993, 276–77
- Broderick 1993, 277
- Broderick 1993, 278
- Broderick 1993, 282–83
- Macbain 1911; Dictionary of the Irish Language; Broderick 1984–86, vol. 2
- "A snapshpot of Manx history". Stamp and Coin Mart. Warners Group Publications. February 2018. p. 38.
- Broderick, George (1984–86). A Handbook of Late Spoken Manx (3 volumes ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer. ISBN 3-484-42903-8. (vol. 1), (vol. 2), (vol. 3).
- Broderick, George (1993). "Manx". In M. J. Ball; J. Fife (eds.). The Celtic Languages. London: Routledge. pp. 228–85. ISBN 0-415-01035-7.
- Cumming, Joseph George (1848). "The Isle of Man". London: John Van Voorst. Cite journal requires
- Dictionary of the Irish Language based mainly on Old and Middle Irish materials. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 0-901714-29-1.
- Gunther, Wilf (1990). "Language conservancy or: Can the anciently established British minority languages survive?". In D. Gorter; J. F. Hoekstra; L. G. Jansma; J. Ytsma (eds.). Fourth International Conference on Minority Languages (Vol. II: Western and Eastern European Papers ed.). Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters. pp. 53–67. ISBN 1-85359-111-4.
- Holmer, Nils M. (1957). The Gaelic of Arran. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 0-901282-44-8.
- Holmer, Nils M. (1962). The Gaelic of Kintyre. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 0-901282-43-X.
- Hughes, Art (1994). "Gaeilge Uladh". In K. McCone; D. McManus; C. Ó Háinle; N. Williams; L. Breatnach (eds.). Stair na Gaeilge in ómós do Pádraig Ó Fiannachta (in Irish). Maynooth: Department of Old Irish, St. Patrick's College. pp. 611–60. ISBN 0-901519-90-1.
- Jackson, Kenneth Hurlstone (1955). Contributions to the Study of Manx Phonology. Edinburgh: Nelson.
- Kelly, John (1870). Gill, William (ed.). A Practical Grammar of the Antient Gaelic, or Language of the Isle of Man, Usually Called Manks. Douglas: The Manx Society.
- Kewley-Draskau, Jennifer (2008). Practical Manx. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-1-84631-131-4.
- Kneen, John J. (1911). A Grammar of the Manx Language. Edinburgh: Ams Pr Inc. ISBN 978-0-404-17564-1.
- Macbain, Alexander (1911). An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (2nd ed.). Stirling: E. Mackay. Reprinted 1998, New York: Hippocrene. ISBN 0-7818-0632-1.
- Mhac an Fhailigh, Éamonn (1968). The Irish of Erris, Co. Mayo. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 0-901282-02-2.
- Ó Baoill, Colm (1978). Contributions to a Comparative Study of Ulster Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University of Belfast.
- O'Rahilly, Thomas F. (1932). Irish Dialects Past and Present. Dublin: Browne and Nolan. Reprinted 1976, 1988 by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 0-901282-55-3.
- Ó Cuív, Brian (1944). The Irish of West Muskerry, Co. Cork. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 0-901282-52-9.
- Ó Sé, Diarmuid (2000). Gaeilge Chorca Dhuibhne (in Irish). Dublin: Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann. ISBN 0-946452-97-0.
- Thomson, Robert L. (1992). "The Manx language". In Donald MacAulay (ed.). The Celtic Languages. Cambridge University Press. pp. 100–36. ISBN 0-521-23127-2.
- Williams, Nicholas (1994). "An Mhanainnis". In K. McCone; D. McManus; C. Ó Háinle; N. Williams; L. Breatnach (eds.). Stair na Gaeilge in ómós do Pádraig Ó Fiannachta (in Irish). Maynooth: Department of Old Irish, St. Patrick's College. pp. 703–44. ISBN 0-901519-90-1.
|Manx edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Manx language.|
|For a list of words relating to Manx, see the Manx language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Manx.|
|Manx language repository of Wikisource, the free library|
- Percentage of resident population with a knowledge of Manx Gaelic
- A bit of Manx Gaelic history
- Manx language, alphabet and pronunciation at Omniglot
- Information about the language
- isle-of-man.com language section
- Manx dictionaries via Multidict
- Online Manx Lessons with MP3 recordings
- Bilingual Bible in Manx and English by the Manx Language Project
- Manx: Bringing a language back from the dead
- Media article about the Manx revival
- Manx free online course