Learning Manx / Gynsagh Gaelg

Failt ort! Welcome to the first in the series of posts on the Celtic Students Blog where we talk about learning the Celtic Languages. This post deals with Manx, Gaelg/Gailck to its speakers, the Celtic language native to the Isle of Man. Nowadays, the Island has around 2000 speakers of Manx (according to the Isle of Man census in 2011).

If you are interested in joining their ranks, here are some phrases to start you off. If you speak Irish or Scottish Gaelic, some of the words below may be familiar to you once you sound them out; don’t be intimidated by the spelling! 

Failt ort/erriu (falch ort/ER-yoo) – Welcome (sg/pl).
Moghrey mie (MO-ruh meye) – Good morning.
Fastyr mie (FASS-tuh meye) – Good afternoon.
Oie vie (ee veye) – Good night.
She mish [Juan]/[Moirrey] (shay mish…) – I am [John]/[Mary].
Kys t’ou/ta shiu? (kiss tow/ta shoo) – How are you (sg/pl)?
Ta mee [braew]/[mie dy liooar] (ta mee brow/meye duh LYOO-uh) – I am [fine]/[okay].
Gura mie ayd/eu (GU-ruh meye uhd/yow)– Thank you (sg/pl).
She dty vea (shay duh vay)  – You’re welcome.
Ta mee gynsagh Gaelg (ta mee GIN-sakh* gilk)– I am learning Manx.
(*gh is pronounced something like the sound at the end of loch/Bach!)

On the Isle of Man, it is possible to learn the language from childhood; there is a Manx language preschool (Mooinjer Veggey – ‘Little People’), as well as the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, the Manx-medium primary school. The language is also taught as a second language in many of the Island’s English-medium primary schools, as well as one of its secondary schools. Organisations such as Culture Vannin also offer classes for adults.

If you’re not one of those lucky people who got to grow up among those green hills by the sea, don’t despair! After all, the age of distance learning shows no signs of stopping, so picking up some Manx from the comfort of your home has never been easier. We at the Association of Celtic Students can point you towards some excellent online and print resources to get you started on your language-learning journey.

Many learners prefer a structured pace of learning, and thanks to the magic of technology, Culture Vannin is able to offer free online lessons for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners, no matter where you are in the world. There are also several other online learning courses for Manx, such as Say Something in Manx, Loayr Gaelg!, and Glossika, so you can take your pick. We haven’t made it onto DuoLingo yet, but there are plenty of alternatives! A good place to start might be Bunneydys – a course in Manx created by Brian Stowell and based on the beginners Irish course Buntús Cainte.

Dictionaries and phrasebooks are a must for any language learner. Taggloo.im is a great dictionary resource for Manx. There are also online spoken dictionaries to help you with your speaking skills.

If you’re more of the academic type, you can also find lots of information about Manx grammar. The Bun as Bree series of articles by Christopher Lewin are great discussions on various features of Manx grammar. Books on Manx grammar are also available, such as ‘Practical Manx’ by Jennifer Kewley-Draskau.

Once your Manx gets off the ground, reading in the language is a great way to keep up your skills and improve your vocabulary. LearnManx.com has a great archive of reading material suitable for multiple ability levels. Here you can find both older texts from past speakers and newer material designed for learners. If you’re interested in older Manx, the Manx Bible is a great text resource, and is available both online and as a physical copy. Books in Manx are also sold by some local retailers, such as the Culture Vannin bookshop and Lexicon bookshop. These shops sell both translations English- or Irish-language works, and also original works in Manx.

There is also plenty of audio material available in Manx to help you with your learning. LearnManx.com has an archive of both video and audio recordings of Manx speakers, which are very helpful for pronunciation. Manx Radio also has some radio shows presented partially or fully in Manx, such as Bob Carswell’s Claare Ny Gael. These are available to listen live, or if you miss them, you can also listen on their website or app. If you prefer a podcast format, these shows are also uploaded to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts (search ‘Manx Radio’ to find them). LearnManx also produces a podcast as a Manx-learning resource. Also keep an eye out for future seasons of the Celtic Students Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor.fm, and Google Podcasts. We plan to feature more Manx content on there in the coming seasons!

We hope this whistle-stop tour of learning Manx has given you a place to start if you want more Manx in your life. Gura mie ayd/eu, and aigh vie (good luck)!

Erin McNulty
PhD Student
University of Glasgow


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