Re-immersion into Manx

Back in 2005, I decided to learn Manx as part of introducing myself to the island, and making an effort to show that I am not just a “come over” and want to put something back into the island in a small way. The course was a brief conversation course run by Brian Stowell at the Isle of Man College. Brian is an excellent teacher and although my Manx was distinctly rudimentary, this was in no way a reflection on his teaching, which I enjoyed immensely from the background of Manx idioms to fascinating anecdotes about the island. I’d heartily recommend the course, or a similar “island orientation” course for people moving on to the island.

Unfortunately, family and living commitments were such that it wasn’t possible to take my learning to the next stage, which Brian kindly arranged. In addition, I didn’t feel my grasp on the language was sufficient to warrant inclusion. How wrong I was.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to re-immerse myself thanks to a friend who it turned out was on the same college course as me. Her use of the language in those intervening years is light years ahead of me and one can’t help but feel a little disappointed. However, as a new regular of Manx conversation and game events, I hope to reignite my desire to learn the language.

My knowledge of the language was sufficient to hold very basic conversation, such as greetings, asking how/who/where people are. In the last couple of weeks, immersing myself (and another friend who is joining me in my learning) in conversation events in Manx has helped me a lot. On Wednesday, I was blown away that I was able to follow the gist of an enthusiastic conversation on social policy in Manx by one of the Manx speakers.

So, taking tips suggested to me by the group, I am going to blog about my Manx to try and help it solidify in my mind somewhat, and post Manx on post-it notes and flashcards around my house to constantly push in the words and language usage.

Starting at the beginning, I’m re-covering the basics. “I think therefore I am” (well, at the moment, it’s more “I am”); the Personal Pronoun.

Using present tense, affirmative form “ta”

The subject is placed after the verb.

mee I Ta mee gynsaghey I am learning
oo You T’ou gynsaghey You are learning Used when speaking to a single person for politeness. Note use of “ou” instead of “oo”. I wonder why this is?
eh he T’eh gynsaghey He is learning I always remember this by “eh” is “he” backwards.
ee she T’ee gynsaghey She is learning
shin we Ta shin gynsaghey We are learning
shiu you Ta shiu gynsaghey You are learning Used to address more than one person.
ad they T’ad gynsaghey They are learning

There will doubtless be confusion between “Ta shiu” (you are (plural)) and “Ta shin” (we are), and also “T’ad” (they are)” with “ayd” (“at you”). But from what I can tell, Manx is full of these little gotchas.

There are a bunch of really good resources available for researching or learning Manx whether with semi-interest or a more serious effort. Two great resources are shown below, brilliant for a beginner:

LearnManx.com – The “official” site managed by Manx National Heritage. The materials on here are really accessible and it is well worth checking out.

YouTube.com – The Manx Language Officer, Adrian Cain, publishes videos of Manx conversation. Even if you don’t understand them at first, it’s a great opportunity to capture the lilt and flow of the speech.

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