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The history of Manx
Manx today by Phil Kelly
Manx, or Manx Gaelic, is the Celtic language of the Isle of Man and is not spoken in any significant numbers outside the island. Recently Manx has received an increasing amount of support from the government and is now taught in all junior and secondary schools. Manx was introduced into schools in September 1992 as an optional subject for pupils.
The aim was to foster a sense of identity and to promote positive attitudes to Manx culture and language learning. Pupils are expected to speak, read and write some Manx in a range of practical situations. They are able to follow a continuous and progressive programme which can lead to a qualification in Manx.
The scheme is optional and parents and pupils may choose whether they study Manx. Manx is available to most pupils who are aged eight and over. There is a weekly lesson for each pupil. Classes are very popular and approximately 1,000 pupils are learning Manx each year.
The Department of Education has introduced Manx language qualifications equivalent to a General Certificate and also an A-level which may be taken as two-year language courses.
The Isle of Man Government showed its support for Manx Gaelic by signing up to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It was agreed that the Council of Europe's charter should be extended to cover the Isle of Man.
The Government confirmed that it recognises the value of Manx, and that the language should be protected and promoted. The decision shows Government's support for Manx Gaelic as an essential feature of the Island's culture and heritage.
The Isle of Man Government Plan for 2003-2006, identifies a 'Positive National Identity' as a central aim. One of the targets is to increase the number of people involved with the Manx language.
The plan is intended to protect, present and promote the unique cultural heritage of the Island and states that, "We will support Manx Studies, extend the provision of Manx language teaching in schools, support the work of the Gaelic Broadcasting Commission and promote research through the Centre for Manx Studies."
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages offers two levels of commitment to Manx. Part Two protection involves a general commitment, while Part Three makes more specific requirements, including provision for the language to be used in court proceedings and government's dealing with the public.
While the Isle of Man already meets the Part Three requirements in some respects, including education and heritage, it has opted for Part Two protection at this stage, and will keep the question of Part Three protection under review.
The 2001 Isle of Man Census showed a total of 1,689 persons who could speak, read or write Manx out of a total resident population of 76,315.
Since 2001, the Department of Education has been providing education through Manx Gaelic to a class of infant children. This venture has been developed in conjunction with a group of parents wishing their children to be educated through the Manx language.
Twenty five pupils presently attend a Manx Medium School at St. Johns in the centre of the Island.
Manx is now highly visible, appearing on houses, streets, shops, vehicles, boats and official buildings. Manx Radio provides a series of bilingual programmes each week and has topical news items with sound files in Manx on the internet. There is a regular Manx language column in the newspaper.
Manx is actively promoted at a Inter-Celtic Cultural Festival each July, and during a Language Week in held in November.
There is now no significant dialect variation between speakers from different areas.