In the 1860’s, more people on the Isle of Man spoke Manx, the native language of the island, than English (Crossan). However, cultural and international changes soon started to reverse that until by the mid-20th century, the language had only a few native speakers left. After a kick start in the 1960’s and 1970’s by a few (at the time) radical people who wanted to bring back the language of their ancestors (Abley, 112), the language began a slow, dawdling rebirth that continues today, one step at a time. Celtic languages, on the whole, are dying out.
Most are being driven to the edges of their native lands by English speaking majorities. For many years, the natives were moving away to find work and foreigners were coming to the island nation for various reasons. However, changes in the laws in the past few decades, as well as changes in the attitudes of the people, have influenced the comeback of the Manx language. Whereas once, the language was seen as lowly and rough (Abley, 100), like many other Celtic people in the last few years, Manxpeople are finding a new pride in their heritage and reviving the language is seen as part of that.
In my proposal, I intend to explore the many ways that Manx culture is spreading around the island and abroad. I wish to take an in-depth look at the ways people have attempted to revive the language, the central aspect of any culture, particularly through music and teaching the language to children in day cares and primary schools. I will look at other languages in decline and see if there are any lessons to be learned from those cases and also discuss which tactics have not been successful.
My interest in this particular was sparked by a YouTube video | saw some time ago (and hope to find again for use in this project), which showed a Manx-language primary school and the bilingual children there. I have an unusual and particular fondness for Celtic culture, mythology, and language. I am currently learning Welsh and hope to be reasonably fluent in the next two years or so at which point I plan to study another Celtic language, however I did not want to choose a subject I knew too much about for this paper.
I see this research paper as a chance to learn and to draw parallels between the Manx world, the Celtic world, and the world at large. My primary research tool will be the internet, but I have also consulted several books from the public library and have already requested several books from the UNLV library t to be delivered to CSN shortly for my use on this project. Most of my information will come from reading books, internet articles, and similar, but if I find a documentary or other video that is helpful in my final paper, I will include that as well.
Unfortunately, because it is a small and scarcely spoken language and the Isle of Man is not especially well known, information on the topic is in short supply, but I do have a great deal of faith that I can come up with enough material to address the topics proposed here in my final paper. Annotated Bibliography Abley, Mark. “Leaving the Grave: Manx. ” Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. 95-120. Print. Mark Abley is a Canadian writer and lover of languages. In Spoken Here, he explores more then eight different languages which are slowly dying out or have mostly been eradicated.
He travels to the places these languages are spoken, consults with the locals and as many remaining native speakers as he can, along with those attempting to revive the languages. In the chapter on Manx, he talks with several Isle of Man residents about their attempts to revive the language. He also has conversations with those who grew up with the language and others who grew up in a period where the Manx language (and Celtic culture in general), was considered rough, low brow, and beneath loftier languages such as English.
Tenjoyed Abley’s conversations with native people from Man, including the wide variety of opinions he gathered on the revival of the language. The book is slightly our of date, having been published in 2003. It mentions the recent government funding of a Manx-language primary school and discusses the challenges of creating a Manx-language curriculum when things such as atlases are unavailable in the language. My hope is that in the course of my research I will find that such issues have been resolved.
However, it contains a great many references to other texts which will help me with research on the history of the land and the people, as well as the peculiarities of the grammar and syntax of Manx. In addition, the first-hand accounts from people who grew up with the language, who grew up without it, and who want to revive it are absolutely invaluable resources. Ager, Simon. “Manx (Gaelg/Gailck). ” Manx Language, Alphabet and Pronunciation. Omniglot, n. d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. http://www. omniglot. com/writing/manx. htm. This page on Manx is part of the larger Omniglot online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages.
It provides a summary of the history of the language, its decline, as well as discussion of its revival. The page shows the alphabet, offers some information on pronunciation, information on linguistic relation to other Celtic languages and a variety of links and resources one might use to learn more about Manx. While the page itself is dated in terms of design, the information is relatively up-to-date or unchanged since the time of publishing (date unknown). It will be a valuable research tool in terms of leading me to other sources, as well as a place I can ontinually refer back to in order to confirm or double-check information.
It is also particularly helpful that the Omniglot website has a great deal of information on related Celtic languages. Crossan, Rob. “Manx: Bringing a Language Back From the Dead. ” BBC News. BBC, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. http:// www. bbc. com/news/magazine-21242667. 1 This BBC News Magazine article from 2013 discusses how Manx was declared a dead language by UNESCO in the 1990’s, but how many attempts on the Isle of Man are bringing the language back into popularity.
It mentions the popularity of the Manx-language primary school that Mark Abley heard about ten years earlier and talks about how lottery funding and contributions from the nation’s government have spurred the rebirth of the language. This article was recommended to me by my classmate, Rachel Howell, and I found it to be a valuable resource in regards to more current uses and cultural references of the Manx language than some of the other sources I have found. Some of the quotes in the article will be useful in my research paper and the article will make a good jumping-off point for further research.
Gibbons, John, and Elizabeth Ramirez. Maintaining A Minority Language: A Case Study of Hispanic Teenagers. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters, 2004. Print. Maintaining a Minority Language studies 106 Hispanic teenagers in the Sydney, Australia area. The study attempts to dispel “nationalist myths” and explore challenges for“ linguistic minorities, whether indigenous, refugee, or migrant”, in regards to maintaining their culture and communities. The study focuses on bilingualism and biliteracy as the stepping-off points for maintaining cultures in decline or who are minorities in a particular area.
Though this particular study is more than a decade old, it has a great deal of information about language use, literacy, and more in regards to a language in decline in Sydney as the children of Hispanic immigrants to Australia begin to assimilate and speak Spanish (or other native languages) less. For me, this relates to the people of the Isle of Man and how many of them left the island and assimilated into other cultures, particularly English and Scottish. I hope to distinguish parallels between cultures whose languages are dying.