H140 Manx Language

The amount of material either in or about the Manx Language on my pages is relatively small, but growing. An overview of the development of the language may be obtained from Thomson

  1. Mann originally included in Bythronic Group (i.e. early Welsh etc.)
  2. The Island included in eastward expansion of Gaelic-speaking Ireland during fourth and fifth centuries - thus moved to Goedelic branch, links would appear to be with Ulster
  3. A continuity of Gaelic speakers through the Norse period though probably a horizontal class division between the predominantly Norse upper class who, though intermarried with Gaels, favoured the side of the Norse due to external contacts — Gaelic remained the tongue of the lower classes, "with no large scale penetration of vocabulary by Norse loan-words, unused for any but everyday concerns" thus becoming impoverished in vocabulary etc. The Norse-favouring upper stratum were replaced following Scots takeover in 1266, after which Latin and then English were languages of administration, the apex of the social stratum being replaced several times until the stability imposed by the Stanley's after 1405 but the replacements always from outside.
  4. Manx like East Gaelic (later to be Scots Gaelic) split from Irish around the 13th century - some have argued that this indicated a major movement from Scotland into Mann following the decline of the Norse though Thomson considers the evidence is consistent with continuity of people.
  5. Manx continued as demotic language but influenced in vocabulary by English - a late flowering for religious purposes took place in the 18th century but as Thomson says "Manx can be said never to have recovered from the blow to its standing as a language used by all ranks of society for all purposes which was inflicted, probably during the Norse period, and most certainly in the centuries following."


Online Pages:

Manx Language (+ history of printed Manx)

Late Spoken Manx

Yn Cheshaght Gailckagh

Manx Language Texts

Off-line References:

 [Return to Manx Note Book] 

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001