|Pronunciation||[?'l?], [?'lk] y Ghaelg, y Ghailk|
|Native to||Isle of Man|
|Extinct||Extinct as a first language by 1974 with the death of Ned Maddrell.|
|Revival||1,800 second language speakers, including children (2015)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Coonseil ny Gaelgey (Manx Gaelic Council)|
Manx (native name Gaelg or Gailck, pronounced [?il?] or [?ilk] or [?e:l?]), also known as Manx Gaelic, and also historically spelled Manks, is a member of the Goidelic (Gaelic) language branch of the Celtic languages of the Indo-European language family; it was spoken as a first language by some of the Manx people on the Isle of Man until the death of the last native speaker, Ned Maddrell, in 1974. Despite this, the language has never fallen completely out of use, with a minority having some knowledge of it; in addition, Manx still has a role as an important part of the island's culture and heritage. Manx has been the subject 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 had been translated into Manx, and audio recordings had been made of native speakers.
In Manx, the language is called Gaelg or Gailck (pronounced "gilk" or "gilg" or "gelg" with hard Gs), a word which shares the same etymology as the word "Gaelic", borrowed from Northern Irish. 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.
The earliest known language of the Isle of Man was a form of Brythonic (like modern Welsh, Cornish and Breton). However, the basis of the modern Manx language is Primitive Irish (like modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic). The island lends its name to 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.
On the Isle of Man, the transition from Manx Brythonic to Old Irish (or Manx Gaelic) may have been gradual and appears to have occurred after speakers of Primitive Irish settled on the Isle of Man, in large numbers, from about the 5th century AD. Their influence is evident in a change of language in Ogham inscriptions on Man.
It is possible that Old Irish did not survive the conquest and domination of the island by Norse-speaking Vikings, so that modern Manx language may represent a later, revived form (derived from Middle Irish). During the 8th century AD, the Isle of Man, like the people in coastal areas of Scotland and Ireland, was significantly influenced by Norse speakers. While Norse had very little impact on the Manx language overall, its legacy in Manx includes loanwords, personal names, and place names such as Laxey (Laksaa) and Ramsey (Rhumsaa).
By the 10th century, Middle Irish had emerged and was spoken throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
During the later Middle Ages, the Isle of Man fell increasingly under the influence of England, and from then on the English language has been the chief external factor in the development of Manx. Beginning in 1405, Manx experienced even more English influence under the rule of Sir John Stanley. As contact between Manx speakers and Gaelic speakers from Scotland and Ireland declined, the language diverged further from its related neighbours.
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 enthusiast 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.
|Year||Manx speakers||Manx |
|1974||Last native speaker dies|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2010)
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.[when?]
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 Man Thomas Wilson.
The Book of Common Prayer was translated by John Phillips, the Welsh-born Bishop of Sodor and Man (1605-33). 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 [ka:l] "horse" and cooney [ku:n?] "help" as well as /?/ (e.g. fys [f?z] "knowledge"), though it is also used to represent [j], as in English (e.g. y Yuan [? ju:an] "John" (vocative), yeeast [ji:?st] "fish").
Other works produced in the 18th and 19th century 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.
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 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.
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.
Manx shares with Scottish Gaelic the partial loss of contrastive palatalisation of labial consonants; thus while in Irish the velarised consonants /p? b? f? w m?/ contrast phonemically with palatalised /p? b? f? v? m?/, 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  (spelled -(a)ibh, -(a)imh in Irish and Gaelic) has merged with  (-(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 /?ærav/, Northern and Western Irish searbh /?æru/, Southern Irish searbh /?ær/, between vowels, e.g. Manx awin 'river' , Scottish abhainn /avi?/, Irish abhainn /aun?/, word-finally in monosyllables, e.g. Manx laaue 'hand', Scottish làmh /la:v/, Northern Irish /læ:w/, Western Irish lámh /l?:w/, Southern Irish /l?:?/, at the end of stressed syllables (see further below), as in sourey 'summer', Scotland and Ireland samhradh, Scottish /saur/, Northern Irish /sauru/, Western and Southern Irish /saur?/. In all this Manx is most like Northern Irish. Rare retentions of the older pronunciation of "bh" include Divlyn, Divlin 'Dublin', Middle Irish Duibhlinn /d?ul?in?:/, also written Duibhlinn in Modern Irish and Scots Gaelic.
Moreover, similarly to Munster Irish, historical bh  and mh (nasalised ) 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") ['eur?], ['u:r?] and sleityn ("mountains") ['sle:dn] correspond to Irish geimhreadh and sléibhte (Southern Irish dialect spelling and pronunciation gíre (['?i:]) and sléte (['?l?e:t])). 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 [e:] in many words, as in seyr ("carpenter") [se:r] and keyl ("narrow") [ke:l] (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 ?n mn tn/ to /kr ?r mr tr/. For example, Middle Irish cnáid ("mockery") and mná ("women") have become craid and mraane respectively in Manx. The affrication of [t d] to [t? d?] 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 [i?] of Middle Irish (spelled -(a)idh and -(a)igh) has developed to [i:] 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 /?/ appears in unstressed syllables before /x/ (in Manx spelling, agh), for example jeeragh ("straight") ['d?i:rax] (Irish díreach), cooinaghtyn ("to remember") ['ku:n?axtn] (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") [kl?:n], dhone ("brown") [d?o:n], eeym ("butter") [i:?m] 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 [kl:n], Southern Irish/Northern Scottish [klaun], [daun]/[doun], [i:m]/[?im]), but short vowels and 'long' consonants in northern Irish, Arran, and Kintyre, [klan?:?], [don?:?] and [im?:].
Another similarity with southern Irish is the treatment of Middle Irish word-final unstressed [?ð], spelled -(e)adh in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. In nouns (including verbal nouns), this became [?] in Manx, as it did in southern Irish, e.g. caggey ("war") ['ka:], moylley ("to praise") ['m?l?]; cf. Irish cogadh and moladh, pronounced ['k] and ['ml] in southern Irish. In finite verb forms before full nouns (as opposed to pronouns) [?ð] became [ax] in Manx, as in southern Irish, e.g. voyllagh ['v?lax] ("would praise"), cf. Irish mholfadh, pronounced ['lh?x] 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 [æ:]. In Northern Manx the same happened, but á sometimes remained [a:] as well. For example, laa ("day", cf. Irish lá) was [læ:] in the south but [læ:] or [la:] in the north. Old ó is always [æ:] in both dialects, e.g. aeg ("young", cf. Irish óg) is [æ:?] 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 /oe:/, as in paayrt 'part' /poe:rt/, ard 'high' /oe:rd/, jiarg 'red' /d?oe:rg/, argid 'money, silver' /oe:rgid/ and aarey 'gold GEN' /oe:r?/.
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 [k?aun] in the north but [k?o:n] 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 [i:], while in Southern Manx it was [?:], [u:], or [y:]. For example, geay ("wind", cf. Irish gaoth) is [?i:] in the north and [:] in the south, while geayl ("coal", cf. Irish gual) is [?i:l] in the north and [?y:l], [:l], or [?u:l] 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 [sle?n] for slane ("whole") and [be?n] for ben ("woman"). This phenomenon is known as pre-occlusion. In Southern Manx, however, there is pre-occlusion of [d] before [l] and of [?] before [?], as in [?u:?l] for shooyl ("walking") and [l] 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 [t?ro?m] in the north but [t?ro:m] or [t?ro:?m] in the south. This feature is also found in Cornish.
Southern Manx tended to lose word-initial [?] before [l?], while Northern Manx usually preserved it, e.g. glion ("glen") is [?ln] in the north and [ln] in the south, and glioon ("knee") is [?l?u:n] in the north and [l?u:?n] 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 shu (plural)
Kynas ta shu? ("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, which was language of the educated Gaelic elite of both Ireland and Scotland (where it was 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 do not cover 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.
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.||vod? 'smu:n?axtn d bi?x 'ka:b?l d?i:?n ski: as 'd?øin?ax uns ? 'vo:x?ri d bi?x e er vi ek n? 'ferin fod? n? høi as bi?x ?d? kør le? ?n 'sa:rt? d kør ? 'vanax 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?||v? 'b?n ?'son 't?a:n 'kai as vai 'la:l 'mi? ði 'jinðax i ð? '?re: in 'pa:dr ?n 't?a:rn ? d?ot? i ð? 'rau i ?re: a 't?re: vai i'n?in 've:? ? ax t?e 'ol?u d?a'rudt? ek ? as vei 'la:l 'inðax a 'ri:? san ð? '?re 'vra:stl n? 'rið ?nax ? as 'd?ut? mi? ð? 'd?inax mi 'd?inu m? '?e: san ð? 'kun? l?ei as 'ren? i 't?it? o'so: san ð? 'kla:?tn a ? as vel u 'la:l ð? 'kla:?tn mi ð? '?re: 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?|
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||/e:/||slane, buggane, kiare|
|baatey, aashagh |
/?:/, /u:/ or /y:/ (south)
|yeeast, keead |
|eei, eey||/i:/||feeid, dreeym, meeyl|
|eddin, ruggit |
|çhiarn, shiaght |
|o, oi||/?/ or /?/
/?:/ or /?:/
bodjal, logh, moir
vondeish, bolg, bunscoill
|oie||/ei/ or /i:/||oie|
|oo, ioo, ooh||/u:/||shassoo, cooney, glioon, ooh|
|u, ui, iu||stressed||/?/
ruggit, ushag, duillag, fuill
|uy||/?i/ or /i:/||nuy|
y Yuan, yeeast
|b, bb||usually||/b/||bunscoill, ben|
|between vowels||/?/ or /v/||cabbyl|
|c, cc, ck||usually||/k/||bunscoill, cloan|
|çh, tçh||/t?/||çhiarn, çhengey, paitçhey|
|d, dd, dh||broad||/d?/||keead, ardnieu, tedd, dhone|
|slender||/d?/ or /d?/||feeid|
|broad, between vowels||/ð/||eddin, moddey|
|g, gg||broad||/?/||Gaelg, Ghaelgagh|
|between vowels||/?/||veggey, ruggit|
|finally or before t||/x/||jeeragh, clagh, cooinaghtyn|
|j, dj||usually||/d?/||mooinjer, jeeragh|
|l, ll||broad||/l/||Gaelg, sleityn, moylley|
|slender||/l?/||glion, blein, feill, billey|
|finally, in monosyllabic words (S only)||/?l/||shooyl|
|m, mm||normally||/m/||mooinjer, dreeym, famman|
|finally, in monosyllabic words (N only)||/?m/||eeym, trome|
|n||broad||/n/||bunscoill, cooinaghtyn, ennym|
|slender||/n?/||ardnieu, collaneyn, dooinney, geinnagh|
|finally, in monosyllabic words||/?n/||slane, ben|
|slender, finally, in monosyllabic words||/?n?/||ein|
|finally, in monosyllabic words (S only)||//||lhong|
|p, pp||usually||/p/||peccah, padjer|
|r, rr||usually||/r/||geurey, jeeragh, ferrishyn|
|finally|| or ||aer, faiyr|
|bunscoill, sleityn, cass|
|initially before n||/?/||sniaghtey|
|aashagh, ushag |
|t, tt, th||broad||/t?/||trome, cooinaghtyn, thalloo|
|slender||/t?/ or /t?/||poosit, ushtey, tuittym|
|broad, between vowels||/d?/
|slender, between vowels||/d?/ or /d?/||sleityn|
The consonant phonemes of Manx are as follows:
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 [? ð z ?] to the series of voiced fricatives in Manx. The voiced fricative [?] may be further lenited to [j], and [?] may disappear altogether. Examples include:
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:
The trill /r/ is realised as a one- or two-contact flap [?] 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 , which may vocalise to a nonsyllabic  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:
The vowel phonemes of Manx are as follows:
The status of [æ] and [æ:] 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 /a:/ have allophones ranging from [?]/[?:] through [æ]/[æ:] to [a]/[a:]. As with Irish and Scottish Gaelic, there is a large amount of vowel allophony, such as that of /a/, /a:/. This depends mainly on the 'broad' and 'slender' status of the neighbouring consonants:
|/i/, /i:/||[i], [i:]||[?], [?:]|
|/?i/ (Middle Gaelic)||[i:]||[?:], [?:], [?:]|
|/o/, /o:/||[o], [o:]||[?], [?:]|
|/u/, /u:/||[u], [u:]||[ø~?], [u:]|
|/u?/ (Middle Gaelic)||[i:], [y:]||[?:], [?:], [u:]|
When stressed, /?/ is realised as [ø].
|Close||ui||i? o u?|
|Mid||ei o ?i o oi||eu o ?u|
Stress generally falls on the first syllable of a word in Manx, but in many cases, stress is attracted to a long vowel in the second syllable. Examples include:
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.
|çh||/t?/~/t?/||h||/h/, /x?/||j||/d?/[* 1]|
|c, k||/k?/||ch||/x?/||g||//[* 1]|
|/x/, /h/ /hw/||g
|d(h)||/d?/||gh||/?/, /w/||n||/n/[* 1]|
|j||/d?/~/d?/||gh, y||//, /j/||n||/n?/|
|g||//||gh, y||//, /j/||ng||/?/?[* 1]|
|sh||/?/||h||/h/ , /x?/||(no change)|
In the corpus of the late spoken language, there is also one example of the eclipsis (nasalisation) of /?/: 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 [?n], but also by vowel change, changing -agh [ax] to -ee [i:] or -eeghyn [i:?n] 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 [?] 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 [?]), 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 [i:], 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 'rau ?s] as cha row oo [xa 'rau u(:)] sounds too similar to cha row [xa 'rau] "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:
|Present||ta mee tilgey
(I am throwing)
|Imperfect||va mee tilgey
(I was throwing)
|-||I was throwing|
|Perfect||ta mee er jilgey
(I am after throwing)
|-||I have thrown|
|Pluperfect||va mee er jilgey
(I was after throwing)
|-||I had thrown|
|Preterite||ren mee tilgey
(I did throwing)
|hilg mee||I threw|
(I will do throwing)
|tilgym||I will throw|
(I would do throwing)
|hilgin||I would throw|
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 /d?/ [d?] i.e. before a slender vowel, e.g. "ate" can be either d'ee or jee.
These peculiarities extend to verbs begins 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.
|Form||Preterite indep.||Preterite dep.||Future indep.||Future dep.||Conditional indep.||Conditional dep.||Imperative||Past participle|
|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|
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 /ho:s/||heese /hi:s/|
|Movement towards the speaker from||neose /no:s/||neese /ni:s/|
|Movement away from the speaker to||seose /so:s/||sheese /?i:s/|
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".
|[æ:n], [o:n], [u:n]
|one||aon [e:n], [i:n], [?:n]||aon [?:n]|
|two||dó [do:], dhá/dá [?a:]/[da:]
(people only) dís [d?i:?]
|tree||[t?ri:]||three||trí [tr?i:]||trì [ti:]|
|kiare||[k?æ:?(r)]||four||ceathair, ceithre [cah?r?], [cer?h]||ceithir ['keh]|
|queig||[kwe?]||five||cúig [ku:?]||còig [k?o:k?]|
|shey||[?e:]||six||sé [?e:]||sia [?i?]|
|shiaght||[?æ:x]||seven||seacht [?axt]||seachd [xk], [?axk]|
|hoght||[ho:x]||eight||ocht [oxt] (dialect hocht [hoxt])||ochd [?xk]|
|nuy||[n?i], [nøi], [ni:]||nine||naoi [n?e:], [n?i:], [ni]||naoi [ni]|
|jeih||[di]||ten||deich [d?eh], [d?eç], [d?ei]||deich [t?eç]|
|nane jeig||[ne:n d?e?]||eleven||aon déag [e:n d?ia?], [i:n d?e:?], [i:n/?:n d?e:?]||aon deug/diag [?:n d?e:k], [?:n d?i?k]|
|daa yeig||[d?ei]||twelve||dó dhéag, dhá dhéag, dá dhéag [do: jia?], [do: je:?], [?a: je:?], [da: je:?]||dà dheug/dhiag [t?ae:k], [t?ai?k]|
|tree jeig||[t?ri d?e?]||thirteen||trí déag [tr?i: d?ia?], [tr?i: d?e:?], [tr?i: d?e:?]||trì deug/diag [ti: t?e:k], [ti: t?i?k]|
|feed||[fi:d?]||twenty||fiche [fh], [fç?]; fichid [fhd?], [fç?d?] (dative)||fichead [fiç?t?]|
|keead||[ki:?d]||hundred||céad [ce:d], [ciad]||ceud, ciad [ke:t?], [ki?t?]|
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"|
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:
|"He is a good man" (lit. "He is in his good man")|
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:
|"I am a Manxman."|
|this||the||man||"This is the man."|
In questions and negative sentences, the present tense of the copula is nee:
|"I am not him."|
|"Is this the book?"|
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.
|aane||[e:n]||liver||Goidelic; from Mid.Ir. ae < O.Ir. óa; cf. Ir. ae, Sc.G. adha|
|aer||[e:?]||sky||Latin; from O.Ir. aer < L. aër; cf. Ir. aer, Sc.G. adhar|
|aile||[ail]||fire||Goidelic; from O.Ir. aingel "very bright"; cf. Ir., Sc.G. aingeal|
|ardnieu||[?rd?'n?eu]||snake||Apparently "highly poisonous" (cf. ard "high", nieu "poison")|
|awin||[aun?], ['aw?n?]||river||Goidelic; from the M.Ir. dative form abainn of aba < O.Ir. abaind aba; cf. Ir. abha/abhainn, dative abhainn, Sc.G. abhainn (literary nominative abha).|
|ayr||['æ:ar]||father||Goidelic; from M.Ir. athair, O.Ir. athir; cf. Ir., Sc.G. athair|
|beeal||[bi?l]||mouth||Goidelic; from O.Ir. bél; cf. Ir. béal, Sc.G. beul/bial|
|beishteig||[be'?t?e:?], [pr?'?t?e:?]||worm||Latin; from M.Ir. piast, péist < O.Ir. bíast < L. b?stia|
|ben||[be?n]||woman||Goidelic; from M.Ir and O.Ir. ben; cf. Ir., Sc.G. bean|
|billey||['bil]||tree||Goidelic; from O.Ir. bile|
|blaa||[blæ:]||flower||Goidelic; from O.Ir. bláth, Ir. bláth, Sc.G. blàth|
|blein||[bl?e:n?], [bl?i?n]||year||Goidelic; from O.Ir. bliadain; cf. Ir. blian, dat. bliain, Sc.G. bliadhna|
|bodjal||['ba:dl]||cloud||English/French; shortened from bodjal niaul "pillar of cloud" (cf. Sc.G. baideal neòil); bodjal originally meant "pillar" or "battlement" < E. battle < Fr. bataille|
|bolg||[bol?]||belly, bag||Goidelic; from O.Ir. bolg, Ir., Sc.G bolg|
|cass||[ka:s]||foot||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cos, cf. Sc.G. cas, Ir.dialect cas, Ir. cos|
|çhengey||['t?in]||tongue||Goidelic; from O.Ir. tengae; cf. Ir., Sc.G. teanga|
|clagh||[kla:x]||stone||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cloch; cf. Sc.G. clach, Ir. cloch|
|cleaysh||[kle:?]||ear||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative clúais "hearing"; cf. Ir., Sc.G. cluas, dative cluais, Ir. dialect cluais|
|collaneyn||['kalinn]||guts||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cáelán; cf. Ir. caolán, Sc.G. caolan, derived from caol "thin, slender", -án nominaliser|
|crackan||['kra:n]||skin||Goidelic; from O.Ir. croiccenn; cf. Ir., Sc.G. craiceann, dialect croiceann|
|craue||[kræ:w]||bone||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cnám; cf. Ir. cnámh, dative cnáimh, Sc.G. cnàimh|
|cree||[kri:]||heart||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cride; cf. Ir. croí, Sc.G. cridhe|
|dooinney||['d?un]||person||Goidelic; from O.Ir. duine, cf. Ir., Sc.G duine|
|dreeym||[d?ri:m], [d?ri?m]||back||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative druimm, nominative dromm; cf. Ir. drom, dialect droim, dative droim, Sc.G. drom, dialect druim, dative druim|
|duillag||['d?ol?a?]||leaf||Goidelic; from O.Ir. duilleóg; cf. Ir. duilleóg, Sc.G. duilleag|
|eairk||[e:ak]||horn||Goidelic; from O.Ir. adarc; cf. Ir., Sc.G. adharc, Ir. dialect aidhearc|
|eayst||[e:s]||moon||Goidelic; from O.Ir. ésca; cf. archaic Ir. éasca, Sc.G. easga|
|eeast||[ji:s]||fish||Goidelic; from O.Ir. íasc; cf. Ir. iasc, Ul. /ji?sk/, Sc.G. iasg|
|ennym||['en?m]||name||Goidelic; from O.Ir. ainmm; cf. Ir., Sc.G. ainm|
|faarkey||['fø:?k?]||sea||Goidelic; from O.Ir. fairrge; cf. Ir. farraige, Sc.G. fairge|
|faiyr||[fe:?]||grass||Goidelic; from O.Ir. fér; cf. Ir. féar, Sc.G. feur, fiar|
|famman||['faman]||tail||Goidelic; from O.Ir. femm+ -án nominaliser (masculine diminutive); cf. Ir. feam, Sc.G. feaman|
|fedjag||['faia?]||feather||Goidelic; from O.Ir. eteóc; cf. Ir. eiteog "wing", Sc.G. iteag|
|feeackle||['fi:l]||tooth||Goidelic; from O.Ir. fíacail; cf. Ir., Sc.G. fiacail|
|feill||[fe:l?]||meat||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative feóil; cf. Ir. feoil, Sc.G. feòil|
|fer||[fer]||man||Goidelic; from O.Ir. fer; cf. Ir., Sc.G. fear|
|fliaghey||[fl?a:]||rain||Goidelic; from O.Ir. flechud; cf. Ir. fleachadh "rainwater; a drenching", related to fliuch "wet"|
|folt||[folt?]||hair||Goidelic; from O.Ir. folt, Ir.folt, Sc.G. falt|
|fraue||[fræ:w]||root||Goidelic; from O.Ir. frém; cf. Ir. fréamh, préamh, Sc.G. freumh|
|fuill||[fol?]||blood||Goidelic; from O.Ir. fuil, Ir., Sc.G. fuil|
|geay||[?i:]||wind||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative gaíth; cf. Ir., Sc.G. gaoth, dative gaoith|
|geinnagh||['an?ax]||sand||Goidelic; from O.Ir. gainmech; cf. Sc.G. gainmheach, Ir. gaineamh|
|glioon||[?l?u:n?]||knee||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative glúin; cf. Ir. glúin, Sc.G. glùn, dative glùin|
|grian||[?ri:n], [?ri?n]||sun||Goidelic; from O.Ir. grían; cf. Ir., Sc.G. grian|
|jaagh||['d?æ:ax]||smoke||Goidelic, from M.Ir. deathach < O.Ir. dé; cf. Sc.G. deathach|
|joan||[d?aun]||dust||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dend; cf. Ir. deannach|
|kay||[k?æ:]||fog||Goidelic; from O.Ir. ceó; cf. Ir. ceo, Sc.G. ceò|
|keayn||[ki?n]||sea||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cúan; cf. Ir. cuan "harbor", Sc.G. cuan "ocean"|
|keeagh||[ki:x]||breast||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cíoch; cf. Ir. cíoch, Sc.G. cìoch|
|keyll||[ki:l?], [kel?]||forest||Goidelic; from O.Ir. caill; cf. Ir. coill, Sc.G. coille|
|kione||[k?aun], [k?o:n]||head||Goidelic; from O.Ir. cend, dative ciond; cf. Ir., Sc.G. ceann, dative cionn|
|laa||[læ:]||day||Goidelic; from O.Ir. láa; cf. Ir. lá, Sc.G. latha, là|
|laue||[læ:w]||hand||Goidelic; from O.Ir. lám; cf. Ir. lámh, Sc.G. làmh|
|leoie||[løi]||ashes||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative lúaith; cf. Ir. luaith, Sc.G. luath|
|logh||[l?:x]||lake||Goidelic; from O.Ir. loch|
|lurgey||[lø]||leg||Goidelic; from O.Ir. lurga "shin bone"; cf. Ir. lorga|
|maidjey||['ma:]||stick||Goidelic; from O.Ir. maide, Ir., Sc.G. maide|
|meeyl||[mi:l]||louse||Goidelic; from O.Ir. míol; cf. Ir. míol, Sc.G. mial|
|mess||[me:s]||fruit||Goidelic; from O.Ir. mes; cf. Ir., Sc.G. meas|
|moddey||['ma:ð?]||dog||Goidelic; from O.Ir. matrad; cf. Ir. madra, N.Ir. mada,madadh [madu], Sc.G. madadh|
|moir||[m?:?]||mother||Goidelic; from O.Ir. máthir; cf. Ir. máthair, Sc.G. màthair|
|mwannal||['monal]||neck||Goidelic; from O.Ir. muinél; cf. Ir. muineál, muinéal, Sc.G. muineal|
|oie||[ei], [i:]||night||Goidelic; from O.Ir. adaig (accusative aidchi); cf. Ir. oíche, Sc.G. oidhche|
|ooh||[au], [u:]||egg||Goidelic; from O.Ir. og; cf. Ir. ubh,ugh, Sc.G. ugh|
|paitçhey||['pæt]||child||French; from E.M.Ir. páitse "page, attendant" < O.Fr. page; cf. Ir. páiste, Sc.G. pàiste|
|raad||[ræ:d?], [ra:d?]||road||English; from Cl.Ir. rót,róat< M.E. road; cf. Ir. ród, Sc.G. rathad|
|rass||[ra:s]||seed||Goidelic; from O.Ir. ros|
|rollage||[ro'læ:?]||star||Goidelic; from M.Ir. rétlu < O.Ir. rétglu + feminine diminutive suffix -óg; cf. Ir. réaltóg, Sc.G. reultag|
|roost||[ru:s]||bark||Brythonic; from O.Ir. rúsc Brythonic (cf. Welsh rhisg(l); cf. Ir. rúsc, Sc.G. rùsg|
|skian||['ski:?n]||wing||Goidelic; from O.Ir. scíathán; cf. Ir. sciathán, Sc.G. sgiathan|
|slieau||[sl?u:], [?l?u:]||mountain||Goidelic, from O.Ir. slíab; cf. Ir., Sc.G. sliabh|
|sniaghtey||['?n?axt]||snow||Goidelic; from O.Ir. snechta; cf. Ir. sneachta, Sc.G. sneachd|
|sollan||['solan]||salt||Goidelic; from O.Ir.,Ir.,Sc.G. salann|
|sooill||[su:l?]||eye||Goidelic; from O.Ir. súil; cf. Ir. súil, Sc.G. sùil|
|stroin||[st?ru?n?], [st?rai?n?]||nose||Goidelic; from O.Ir. dative sróin; cf. Ir. srón, dialect sróin, dative sróin, Sc.G. sròn, dative sròin|
|tedd||[t?ed?]||rope||Goidelic; from O.Ir. tét; cf. Ir. téad, Sc.G. teud, tiad|
|thalloo||['talu]||earth||Goidelic; from O.Ir. talam; cf. Ir., Sc.G. talamh|
|ushag||['o?a?]||bird||Goidelic; from O.Ir. uiseóg "lark"; cf. Ir. fuiseog, Sc.G. uiseag|
|ushtey||['u?t]||water||Goidelic; from O.Ir. uisce; cf. Ir. uisce, Sc.G. uisge|
|yngyn||['in]||fingernail||Goidelic; from O.Ir. ingen; cf. Ir., Sc.G. ionga, dative iongain, plural Ir. iongna, Sc.G. iongnan, etc.|
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 consecr?tus; mooinjer (people) from the Latin monasterium (originally a monastery; agglish (church) from the Greek (ekklesia, literally meaning assembly) and abb (abbot) from the Hebrew "" (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.
|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
|eean||éan||eun, ian||aderyn, edn||Bird|
|jees, daa||dá, dhá, dó; (people) beirt, dís||dà, dhà; (people) dithis||dau/dwy||Two|