Asking questions using present tense

Previously, I learnt that “Ta” and “Cha nel” precede statements confirming or negating the statement. Asking questions of people is stupidly easy as it uses a single word, “vel” as a predicate. This works for both positive and negative questions.

Positive questions seem to just replace “ta” with “vel”.

mee I Vel mee gynsaghey? Am I learning?
oo thou Vel oo gynsaghey? Are you learning? Used when speaking to a single person for politeness
eh he Vel eh gynsaghey? Is he learning?
ee she Vel ee gynsaghey? Is she learning?
shin we Vel shin gynsaghey? Are we learning?
shiu you Vel shiu gynsaghey? Are you learning? Used to address more than one person.
ad they Vel ad gynsaghey? Are they learning?

Negative questions simple add “nagh”, or sometimes “ny”. I’m sticking to “nagh” for simplicity’s sake. The forms here feel contrived, but are basically “aren’t I?”, “aren’t you?”, etc.

nagh vel mee Am I not? Nagh vel mee gynsaghey? Am I not learning?
nagh vel oo Art thou not? Nagh vel oo gynsaghey? Aren’t you learning? Used when speaking to a single person for politeness
nagh vel eh Is he not? Nagh vel eh gynsaghey? Is he not learning?
nagh vel ee Is she not? Nagh vel ee gynsaghey? Is she not learning?
nagh vel shin Are we not? Nagh vel shin gynsaghey? Aren’t we learning?
nagh vel shiu Are you not? Nagh vel shiu gynsaghey? Aren’t you learning? Used to address more than one person.
nagh vel ad Are they not? Nagh vel ad gynsaghey? Aren’t they learning?

So to use one of those forms in an actual sentence, we could use the famous quote from the 2000 Gladiator film:

Am I not merciful?

might be:

Nagh vel mee myghin er?

Taking the meaning of “merciful” as “myghin” according to the online dictionary developed by J. F. Craine at

A new Twitter metric!

Today is the Isle of Man Social Media Club’s Third Thursday Dinner (if you’re northern), and a topic that often appears is individuals’ visibility on Twitter and Facebook. These are often quantified, calculated and coalesced by sites such as Grader and Klout. A new one has appeared which puts a new slant on it, particularly for the Isle of Man.

Fellow Manx Gaelic learner @NettyIOM pointed me to today, and specifically the Manx Gaelic page which performs a similar trick to Grader, listing the top n users who are tweeting in the Isle of Man, and what percentage of those tweets are in Manx Gaelic. Finally! A metric on which I can beat @OwenC!

Personal Pronouns–Negative form

Continuing the personal pronouns from my last blog, I’m now learning the negative forms. The examples I’ve come up with don’t entirely make a lot of sense (why would you have need to say “You are not learning”?), but I think it gives an extra level of flexibility in phrasing Manx.

cha nel mee I am not Cha nel mee gynsaghey I am not learning
cha nel oo thou art not Cha nel ou gynsaghey You are not learning Used when speaking to a single person for politeness.Note use of “ou” instead of “oo”. Still wondering why this is. Need to check …
cha nel eh he is not Cha nel eh gynsaghey He is not learning
cha nel ee she is not Cha nel ee gynsaghey She is not learning
cha nel shin we are not Cha nel shin gynsaghey We are not learning
cha nel shiu you are not Cha nel shiu gynsaghey You are not learning Used to address more than one person. I’m beginning to differentiate this from “shin”, in that “you” rhymes with “shui” (“shoe”)!
cha nel ad they are not Cha nel ad gynsaghey They are not learning

“Cha” seems to prefix a negative statement, and is sometimes left alone to do its job (“Cha by vie lhiam” – I would not like, literally, “not good with me”) or “nel” is added. Another question for the experts.

It’s also interesting that I’m finding interest in learning the language in many quarters, but alas, antipathy towards the island in the Manx themselves.

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