Manx Gaelic (also known as Gaelg or Gailck) is the native language of the Isle of Man, a rock stranded in the Irish sea. The black sheep of the Gaelic language family, Manx never adopted the Gaelic orthography and "died" in 1974 (with Ned Maddrell, the last native speaker of Manx). These factors can make getting started with the Manx a tad difficult, but these resources and tips will make picking up çhengey nyn mayrey a bit easier.
Some useful resources for beginners
Everyone likes to learn languages in their own idiosyncratic ways but collecting a range of resources that have varied activities and modes of delivery never hurts. Here are some of the best learning resources available to get started.
- Say Something In... Manx is one of the best resources for starting to loayrt boghtynid around. Created by Ado Cain and the Say Something In... team, Say Something in... Manx is perfect for learning to use Manx as early as you can.
- The 1,000 words in Manx Challenge is (as the title suggests) the first 1,000 words you will need to get started with Manx. Tackling the difficult stuff like conjugation and mutations as well as giving you lots of useful words to play with, this is a light course that will give you an excellent start in the world of Manx.
- Bunneydys is a copy of Buntús na Gaeilge that was made by pioneering Gaelgeyr Brian y Stowell. Although the course lacks grammar explanations, you can pick up useful phrases to start chatting about tea, bad weather, and other standard topics of Manx conversation.
Be sure to ceau sooill on the full list of resources to find other useful resources on Youtube, learnmanx.com, and other places.
Manx spelling can seem like an inconsistent nightmare if you're unfamiliar with it, but learning how to recognize patterns and use them in speech is key. This has led some commentators to say ill-conceived at best and outright offensive things about Manx in the past (isn't that right, Akerbeltz?). Sadly, there's no shortcut to understanding Manx orthography, but helpful resources like Omniglot's roundup on Manx Gaelic or (if you're more academically inclined) Custal Lewin's PhD on the historical phonology of Manx can give you a solid basis for learning as you go.
As for a dictionary, you have a few choices:
- The classic dictionaries of Cregeen, Fargher, Kelly, and Kneen can all be found here.
- An online version based on Phil Kelly's Manx vocabulary can be found here - the Fockleyreen.
Using the language
Learning to speak a language is pretty tough, especially when there are so few speakers to turn to. Thanks to the superhuman efforts of Culture Vannin, there are now multiple ways to use Manx in your day-to-day life (whether you've got a pint in your hand or not...).
- Whether you're a toshiaghteyr or an auld hand with the Manx, Pobble is an online service for pairing apprentices and masters together for effective buddy-system learning (or Sheshaghyn).
- Thanks to the long-term effects of yn phaitt, Culture Vannin decided to take their weekly lessons online. New classes are started regularly, so keep an eye on Culture Vannin's website to make sure you don't miss out.
- Last, but not least, the Celtic Languages Discord has a number of overly keen Gaelgeyryn who are constantly for talking boghtynid and getting the skeet. Join us here and get stuck in!
The status of Manx Gaelic
Manx is dead, isn't it?
In truth, rumours of Manx's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Since the death of Ned Maddrell (the last native speaker) in 1974, the number of Gaelgeyryn has steadily grown. Although some newspapers working with out of date figures might insist that Manx has died, it's not true at all! In fact, as of 2022 (the most recent census), there are over 2,000 Manxies who are comfortable using çhengey nyn mayrey.
With the success of the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, that number is only expected to grow in the coming years.
Dialects of Manx Gaelic
Although less striking than the differences in Irish, the dialectical differences in Manx can be broadly split into 3 groups:
- North, spoken by the likes of Annie Kneale, Harry Boyde, and John Kneen ("Yn Gaaue")
- South, spoken by Ned Maddrell and Sage Kinvig
- Peel, a curious dialect that is barely attested for - our only known speaker was William Quane, a native gobbag
You can find more details on the differences between the Manx dialects in the Handbook of Late Spoken Manx, a monumental document written by George Broderick about the terminal speakers of the Manx language.
So, what are you waiting for then? Ynsee paart dy Ghaelg as gow cowag, lah!