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23 September 2014
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The British Isles has seven officially recognised minority languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages. They are: Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Cornish, Lowland Scots, Ulster Scots and British Sign Language.
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Manx today
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.


Your Comments
What is your experience of Manx?

Charles Cain - Isle of Man
In response to the comment that Manx Gaelis is almost entirely a spoken language, this is not true. There is a lot of literature: the problme has been accessability as the market is so small that it is (or was before computers) very expensive to print publications in Manx. In fact, the whole literature of the Gaelic language is available; to read Scot Gaelic literature in Manx simply requires a change of orthography, and an understanding of the dialect differences.

David Edinburgh
It's great to see a language increasing - if only the same were in Scotland.

michael burton from shoreham
I like Manx i think it is a very nice language to learn.

Críostóir from Ireland
The importance of Bunscoill Gaelghagh (the Manx-medium school) cannot be overstated. Teaching Manx as a 'foreign' language in an English-language cirriculum creates passive knowledge, in the same way that English schoolchildren have minimal skills in French or German. The Bunscoill creates a native Manx-speaking community. This has been done with the Irish language in Ireland, Welsh in Wales and should be done with Cornish in Cornwall. Immersion is the most efficient way to create viable language communities who speak, read and write the language as their everyday tongue.

John from Cardiff
I heartily agree with the decision to teach Mnx in all Junior and Secondary schools.If the children do not learn the lnguage there is no future for it!

will kernow
Well done to the manx for so much positive news on their language.If only cornish recieved so much support from the UK goverment!

Anne Ainscough from Formby
I heartily agree with the efforts to protect and restore the Manx language before it disappears altogether (especially as a Manx friend told me that Manx was almost entirely a spoken language and very little of it was written), although it is hard to imagine Manx ever becoming the island's natural "first" spoken language again. An elderly Manx friend tells me that when she was at school, children were punished if they spoke Manx because it was considered "common"!

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