Lego pieces

Manx with children: Lego

Lego piecesIt’s school holidays so we have to find things to amuse and occupy our son. I’m keen on making sure that the line between using Manx at school is blurred into the home because research suggests that it is possible that children see their second language as being only for use in a school setting.

We try to use Manx in settings where it can be readily and easily applied, like getting dressed, going to the shops, etc. A holiday activity would be building Lego.

Counting and identifying pieces

Count pieces you need in Manx, nane, jees, tree, kiare, quieg, shey, shiaght, hoght, nuy, jeih …

  • Peesh beg – Small piece
  • Peesh mooar – Large piece
  • Peesh ruy – Red piece
  • Peesh gorrym – Blue piece
  • Breek – Brick
  • Hoght peeshyn – Eight pieces
  • Breek kiare-chuilleig – Rectangle brick
  • Breek kiarkyl – Circle brick
  • Kiare taggadyn – Four studs


  • Cur eh ayns shoh – Put it here
  • Cur eh er shen – Put it on there
  • Coontey y taggadyn – Count the studs
  • C’raad t’eh goll? – Where does it go?

Navigating instructions

  • Toshtal dy jesh – Left to right
  • Jeagh er y jalloo – Look at the picture
  • Duillag sniessey – Next page


  • Jeant dy mie – well done
  • Yindyssagh – Wonderful
  • Shen eh – That’s it
  • Prowal reesht – Try again

I’m not an expert by any stretch, but if this helps blur the gap between Manx at school and English at home, then it’s all for the good. If you think any of this could be improved, do let me know in the comments.

Ned Maddrell lecture 2016: Bringing up a child through a minority language

The Ned Maddrell lecture this year was as high a calibre as any previous and just as thought provoking. The subject this year was particularly close to my heart, based on the research of Dr Cassie Smith-Christmas titled “The Affective Landscape of Intergenerational Language Transmission: A Case Study of a Scottish Gaelic-Speaking Family”. (You know it’s going to be a good research project when you see the word “affective” in the title.)

The talk was principally about how a minority language such as Gaidhlig could be used within the family to support the language passing on to future generations through the children in the family starting to learn and use the language. The subject is close to my heart, I’m planning on sending my own son to the Manx-Gaelic immersive-learning school, Bunscoill Ghaelgagh.

Dr. Smith-Christmas stayed with a Gaidhlig-speaking family and was able to record conversations which on the surface appear to be mundane but revealed how children adopt a minority language, even though it isn’t natural or easy. There were a number of takeaways from the lecture I can share.

  • Don’t let the use of the minority language become associated with authority. These can be quite easy situations to avoid. If there are authority figures in the home speaking in the minority language or if the only uses of the language become disciplinary.
  • “Recast” (a word Dr. Smith-Christian used I quite liked) the child’s words or sentences in the minority language, without judgement. Dr. Smith-Christian illustrated this with a transcript of her subject child using the Gaidhlig word “clach” for rock instead of English within an otherwise English sentence. I find this works well, particularly with nouns (for myself being able to be fast enough to recast, rather than expecting a response in the minority language.)
  • Going hand in hand with avoiding relating the use of the minority language in disciplinary or authoritarian modes, maintaining an association with the language being fun is important. Dr. Smith-Christian showed us another delightful exchange within her subject family where the child counted in Gaidhlig, again within an otherwise English sentence. I’ve found my son also loves to count things and it’s a great way to keep things fun. Meanwhile they can be learning advanced concepts such as mutations, plurals and pronunciation.
  • Children’s use of the minority language, even when a community is lucky enough to have an immersive teaching environment, is often limited to school and to authority figures such as teachers. When children socialise, they tend to use  a more liquid language such as English which is widely understandable and readily accepted across groups of friends. Therefore, reinforcement of the language outside of school is needed to help blur the lines of where the language can be heard or used. After-school clubs with similar social groups are an ideal opportunity for this.

The opportunity to learn this language transmission, both as a student of Manx-Gaelic and as a parent, was invaluable particularly as there are scant resources on the internet to help answer some of the inevitable questions that pepper a parent’s role.

The Lecture

Q&A afterwards

Post-Lecture Interview

#Manx #Gaelg – now on Facebook

Hopefully you’ll have already read my previous post about using social media to reflect the increasingly vibrant nature of the Manx Gaelic language and cultural identity. Shortly after which, Facebook joined both Twitter and Instagram by adding support for hashtags too.

Whilst I’m sure the two aren’t related, this provides us with a further opportunity to aggregate #Manx #Gaelg content. Using hashtags in Facebook is as simple as tagging your friends in a post. Add the #hashtag and it becomes a clickable link.

Hashtagging in Facebook

Just as in Twitter, when your friends click on the hashtag, they can see your post amidst the rest of Facebook’s related content (well, at least their friends’ content).

#Gaelg hashtag content

This is also good for those users who cross-post, particularly from Twitter. Some Twitter clients and services such as Selective Tweets pick up your post on Twitter and repeat it on Facebook. This is a great way to reach both social networks, and therefore the types of user who use either. I use it myself to reach “casual” followers on Twitter across the world and my Facebook friends and I receive engagement from both. Add the #Manx #Gaelg hashtag on your Twitter post and it is reflected on Facebook. Yindyssagh!

Cross-posting from Twitter to Facebook

Cross-posting from Twitter to Facebook

Where Twitter excels is in its broadcast quality, with very limited privacy. Facebook, despite their tendency to make a mess of privacy, has a much stronger model. Whilst this can significantly reduce the reach of your hashtags and therefore aggregation opportunities, it is still worthwhile to use hashtags on Facebook. Users who click a hashtag will see mutual friends also posting with the hashtag, contributing to the community feel. You might be surprised of your friends’ interest in the language!

I’m sure most people understand the basics of Facebook privacy, particularly posts. The small cog/people/world icon at the bottom right of your textbox when posting controls who can see the post. Typically, this will be set to “Friends” or “Public”. Whilst I would never suggest opening your default posting settings to “Public”, selecting “Public” when posting non-personal Manx Gaelic can increase the visibility of the language to other Facebook users.

Modifying post privacy

Modifying post privacy (per post)

The great thing about Twitter is that the service has largely been driven by its users. As users start to grasp the capabilities of the platform, they invent their own ways of interacting with people. Retweeting and hashtags were both very much community driven and it is exciting to see these features being adopted by other platforms such as Facebook.

#Manx #Gaelg

Manx Gaelic, the indigenous language of The Isle of Man is enjoying a bit of a resurgence in new speakers and academic study. Classes are running all the time, there are many conversation groups and some clothes-related surprises coming soon, too. Manx needs to be seen and heard everyday. It isn’t about those people in the corner of the coffee shop any longer, it needs to be commonly seen so it ceases to be a surprise to see and hear it. Whilst Manx is increasingly being heard and seen from street signs to coffee shops, the modern world also plays host to increased usage of Manx through social media.

The mix of people learning Manx ranges from the brilliant to the casually interested and they’re all able to interact using modern internet using Facebook, Twitter, You Tube alongside conventional web sites whenever is comfortable, after work, when the kids are in bed or on the bus using your smartphone.


Facebook has a number of small groups catering for the learners and experts alike. Cowag (chat) is great for friendly banter and an opportunity to interact with experienced and learning speakers. Ynsee Gaelg (Learn Manx) is targeted particularly at the beginner or the casually interested. Regular quizzes and quotes are published engaging users to participate and experiment. Both groups are ideal if you want to hang out or ask an expert a question. It would be remiss of me to remind you that Taggloo also has a Facebook and Twitter feed, featuring a huge selection of Manx phrases posted throughout the day. Facebook is an ideal place to talk amongst friends in Manx, particularly when it can be difficult to get together at one of the many social events on the island – or even if you’re interest is based elsewhere.


The great thing about Twitter is that it allows anyone to “join the conversation”, and there’s no reason why that conversation cannot be in Manx Gaelic. I’m a frequent user of Twitter myself and often use it to tweet in Manx, re-using patterns learnt in class or just having a bit of fun. It doesn’t matter how good you are, the important thing is to use it! If you tweet in Manx, your followers see your Manx and it quickly becomes a feature of local “Tweeps”, adding value to the local and international Twitter community. I’ve had interest in my Manx tweets from Isle of Man and Ireland to as far afield as North America.

The key to tweeting in Manx is to remember to use the hashtags. Hashtags are ways of “tagging” your post with a meme, trend or topic which can be searched upon, identified and aggregated by other users and sites. So, when you tweet, add the #Manx #Gaelg hashtags. I prefer to only use both #Manx #Gaelg if I am tweeting in Manx or about the language, using #Manx on its own suggests it’s more community related. These are just three tweets I found searching on the #Gaelg hashtag:

The #Gaelg hashtag

And don’t forget, adding #Manx #Gaelg extends your tweet into Taggloo, too:

Taggloo aggregating #Manx #Gaelg

Using hashtags can fling your tweets farther than you could imagine. Consider when we hosted the Isle of Man’s Twestival event in 2011. We encouraged everyone to tweet including the #Twestival hashtag, so other Twestival participants across the world saw what our small island was up to. We also tweeted Manx in this feed, adding #Manx #Gaelg to expand the reach of Manx.

Twestival 2011 twitterfall

Stuck for something to say? The Isle of Man has lots to offer the world in terms of stuff to tweet about. It’s the Isle of Man TT at the moment, so I found an additional opportunity to spread the #Manx #Gaelg word to users interested in the bikes who were following the #iomtt feed:

Tweeting on the #iomtt hashtag

The key about using Manx in social media is to use it whenever you can. Use social media to learn phrases or words, follow @TagglooIM on Twitter to learn phrases throughout the day, chat on Facebook with learners and experts and most importantly, be seen to use the language no matter your skill level.

“It just is” – er yn oyr dy vel eh

I woke up at silly o’clock this morning and for some reason went straight to my Windows 8 laptop and started making Manx notes for our last class.

In our last class, we were taking the fragmented Manx we’ve been learning over the past months and shunting it together. So “Ta mee maynrey” and “Ta mee cummal ayns Rhumsaa” could be turned into something meaningful and worth saying, “Ta mee maynrey cummal ayns Rhumsaa”. We also stretched this further, saying why we felt happy living in Ramsey; “Ta mee maynrey cummal ayns Rhumsaa er yn oyr de vel eh yindyssagh” (I am happy living in Ramsey because it is wonderful).

So with these phrases buzzing round my head, I decided I’d come up with a means to help me remember the glue for these phrases:

  • er yn oyr – because
  • s’liklee – it is likely
  • er lhiam – I reckon
  • dy vel eh – that it is
  • nagh vel eh – that it is not

Ren mee jannoo pabyragh coonee son gynsaghey Gaelg er yn oyr de vel he beggan dooillee cooniaghtyn shoh!

Based on Adrian’s notes, I put some sentences (that would fit) on PowerPoint slides, with colour coding for highlighting the “glue” between the fragments of the sentence and what they mean. I’ve followed a friend’s advice who has been helping me by printing them all off and pinning them around my house.

I’ve created a little file area for my Manx work on my SkyDrive and you’re welcome to have a look in and see if it helps you. Both a PDF version and the original PowerPoint version is there if you’d like to take the file and improve on what I’ve come up with. And with Office Live, you do not even need Microsoft Office or even a version of PowerPoint to edit it!

Yn shiaghtyn shoh chaie aym

Ta mee screeu ayns Gaelg  son yn chied traa as t’eh foddee feer agglagh! Ansherbee, ta mee gynsaghey. Beeym ginsh shen dhyt eddyr mychione yn shiaghtyn shoh chaie aym.

Jeheiney, ren shin goll dys Nerin Twoaie son jeeaghyn lught thie. S’mie lhiam Nerin Twoaie agh cha nel mee geearree cummal ayns shen er yn oyr dy vel eh feer political. Foddee ayns feed bleeaney (1). Ren shin goll dys droghad ayns Carrick-a-Rede as fakin Yn Giant’s Causeway (ren Finn McCooil jannoo!). Cha ren shin fakin Yn Titanic, agh neemayd goll reesht. 🙂

Ren shin goll dys valley er Jelune as ren mee ram cadley. Va mee feer skee. Cha ren mee gobbraghey, neesht! Jemayrt, ren mee goll dys obbyr reesht. S’mie lhiam obbyr. Ta obbyr feer interesting nish :).

Noght, ren mee goll dys Bar Shorys son cloie Scabble ayns Gaelg. V’eh feer vie as gynsagh mie. Ren mee cloie marish Brian Stowell, v’eh feer interestingal (2)! Atreih, cha nel mee skee nish son cha nel mee cadley. 😦

Mairagh (Jerdein), neeym goll dys obbyr reesht as goll dys Jerdein Trass son jinnair marish Ellan Vannin Social Media Club. T’eh feer vie as ta shin loayrt rish ram sleih. Ta mee jeeaghyn roym lesh fakin uss ayns shen!

Jesarn, neemayd goll dys Thie Vannanan son gynsagh Gaelg reesht. Gaelg abboo! Er lhiam dy vel shin gynsagh “er yn oyr” shiaghtyn shoh.

Ansherbee, ta mee goll as jeeaghyn Takeshi Kitano er DVD nish. Heeym shiu!

(1) Not sure of lenition here.

(2) It’s a Gaelic twist to add “-al” to English words to Gaelic-ise them if you’re unsure of the word or there is no direct translation.

Basic verbage without the rulage

In my previous posts I’ve used “learn”, “ynsaghey” and learning “gynsaghey”. There are some further verbs that are regularly used and knowledge of which can help you get by in conversation or basic tweets.

For “to go”, in English you would use “go” as the verbal-noun and imperative. That is it is both an instruction “Go to bed!” and a statement “I go to bed early”. The infinitive being “going”, such as “I am going to bed”. Obviously in Manx, this all changes.

In Manx, the same verb “goll” is used for both the verbal-noun and infinitive. So “Ta mee goll dys lhiabee”, “I go to bed” could also mean “I am going to bed”. The imperative, or commanding form, is “immee”. Therefore, “Immee dys lhiabee!”. Of course, there is no simple rule between goll -> immee as there is in English go -> going. So, learning is necessarily by rote.

The nine key verbs most often seen are below. The exclamation marks are my own to try and help distinguish the use of the word as an instruction from the original noun.

Verbal noun and infinitive Imperative
(Statement of fact or “-ing” form) (Instruction!)
çheet come, coming tar come!
goll go, going immee go!
coyrt or cur give, giving or put, putting cur put!
goaill take, taking gow take!
gra say, saying abbyr say!
jannoo do, doing jean do!
clashtyn hear, hearing clasht hear!
fakin see, seeing jeeagh see! look!
feddyn or geddyn get, getting fow get!

In “çheet” we see the first appearance of the cedilla. This “çh” form has the same sound as in English “church”. This is as opposed to the Manx “Cha”, which is “ha”.

So examples of the use of these verbs:

  • Gow my leshtal” – Take my excuse (“sorry”) (Note that this is instructive, not aggressive, despite my exclamations)
  • “Vel o goll?” – Are you going? Equally …
  • “Nagh ren uss goll dys Doolish?” – Didn’t you go to Douglas? And …
  • Immee dys Doolish nish!” – Go to Douglas now!

I have a great little book with these verbs in and I regularly just stop and quiz myself on them. I’m using Goodwin’s “First lessons in Manx”. You could also print this page out and test yourself.

Manx in Social Media

When I started learning (then abandoned) Manx in 2006 I struggled because it was not in everyday use, and it was quite difficult to stretch my muscles outside of “I like this”, “I did that”, etc.

So in this renewed effort of learning I’m using Social Media to create that environment. By using similar sentence structures, it’s easy to tweet feelings, thoughts and actions. For example:

  • Ta mee skee – I am tired
  • Ta mee feer skee – I am very tired
  • Ta mee goll dy valley – I am going home
  • Ta feme aym er jough! – I need a drink!

These are pushed into my Twitter feed and my Facebook wall, probably annoying many of my followers and friends.

In addition to this, I try and stretch myself out of these standard sentences by creating sentences from film quotes, famous songs, etc. I have been known to make some disastrous mistakes, particularly the quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s; “I am a very stylish girl” which I rendered as “Ta mee fashanagh mooar ben“. Unfortunately, due to synonyms/translation differences, that could also mean “I dress up as a big lady”. This caused much amusement to a couple of Manx learning tweeps :/ .

To my surprise, I found a definite interest in my tweets! Both by professional Manx speakers, experienced speakers and equally importantly, learners and people who want to learn but are unsure of how to make the leap.

Adrian Cain, the Manx Language Officer, has also started to add #manx and #gaelg hashtags on to his Manx tweets. This has set a precedent, with others using the same tags to help aggregate Manx tweets by interest (#manx) and language (#gaelg). Using these tags, and the retweets that using such tags generates, I’ve gained a few additional followers of Manx and Scottish Gaelic speakers.

So despite some complaints by friends and followers about my Manx tweets, I’m going to continue to tweet, learn and spread the word. If you’re on Twitter, make sure you use the #manx (for Manx interest) and #gaelg (for Manx language) hashtags.

Using past tense

Having covered using the present tense, I thought it would be useful to have a look at the past tense before moving on to verbs.

The same structures seem to apply, instead of using “ta”, “va” is used.

va mee I was Va mee gynsaghey I was learning
v’ou You were V’ou gynsaghey You were learning Used when speaking to a single person for politeness
v’eh He was V’eh gynsaghey He was learning
v’ee She was V’ee gynsaghey She was learning
va shin We were Va shin gynsaghey We were learning
va shiu You were Va shiu gynsaghey You were learning Used to address more than one person
va’d They were Va’d gynsaghey They were learning

The negative form introduces “row” (as in “cow”) which means “was”, though I’m not sure if you could use “row” on the affirmative form, for example, “row mee” gynsaghey”.

Also note that the singular of “You were not” has changed its form. This is to avoid confusion between “r’ou” and “row” when speaking as they both sound similar. I guess one should use the “uss” form to avoid any confusion.

cha row mee I was not Cha row mee gynsaghey I was not learning
cha row uss You were not Cha row uss gynsaghey You were not learning Used when speaking to a single person for politeness
cha row eh He was not Cha row eh gynsaghey He was not learning
cha row ee She was not Cha row ee gynsaghey She was not learning
cha row shin We were not Cha row shin gynsaghey We were not learning
cha row shiu You were not Cha row shiu gynsaghey You were not learning Used to address more than one person
cha row ad They were not Cha row ad gynsaghey They were not learning

Updated 25 September …

If you need to use the “do” form, the table below shows some examples. I distinguish the two by another of my silly rules:

  • row = was – “W” is in both “row” and “was”
  • ren = did – Totally no pattern!
cha ren mee I did not Cha ren mee ynsaghey I did not learn
cha ren uss You did not Cha ren uss ynsaghey You did not learn Used when speaking to a single person for politeness
cha ren eh He did not Cha ren eh ynsaghey He did not learn
cha ren ee She did not Cha ren ee ynsaghey She did not learn
cha ren shin We did not learn Cha ren shin ynsaghey We did not learn
cha ren shiu You did not Cha ren shiu ynsaghey You did not learn Used to address more than one person
Cha ren ad They did not Cha ren ad ynsaghey They did not learn

So I guess that it follows that as you can use “Nagh row” for “Wasn’t?”, you could use “Nagh ren” for “Didn’t?”.

nagh ren mee? Didn’t I? Nagh ren mee ynsaghey? Didn’t I learn?
nagh ren uss? Didn’t you? Nagh ren uss ynsaghey Didn’t you learn? Used when speaking to a single person for politeness
nagh ren eh? Didn’t he? Nagh ren eh ynsaghey? Didn’t he learn?
nagh ren ee? Didn’t she? Nagh ren ee ynsaghey? Didn’t she learn?
nagh ren shin? Didn’t we learn? Nagh ren shin ynsaghey? Didn’t we learn?
Nagh ren shiu? Didn’t we? Nagh ren shiu ynsaghey? Didn’t you learn? Used to address more than one person
Nagh ren ad? Didn’t they? Nagh ren ad ynsaghey? Didn’t they learn?

I think that completes the past tense in the simplest form. I’m told that it is possible to man-handle your Manx and use these simpler forms rather than looking for the past tense verb of each stem when starting out. I’m counting on it.