[From Manx Dialect, 1934]
The following dialect words used in connexion with the domestic animals have been collected from printed sources as well as oral. Many of them, therefore, are not recorded for the first time; but it may be convenient to have them brought together. Most of them must be obsolescent; some may have died unannounced.
GENERAL. ' Sthoo, sthoo ! 'drives any animal away. It is the Manx equivalent of 'shoo,' except that human beings can be sthooed (booed away when they make themselves unpopular.
CATS. ' Daunee 'is a call to a cat, and is occasionally used as a name. It may be a familiar form of the Manx dhoan, light brown or 'ginger'; but I have found' Donnie ' as a cat-name in Berkshire. ' Nookie ' is, or used to be, a favourite name among Manx people, also ' Tibbie ' and ' Tib.' " Juan the Bat and Tibbie the Cat ate their mate wisout any fat " is a children's rhyme. ' Stubbin ' is, or was, a general name for a tail-less cat. 'Bunny' is bestowed on many members of the Insular breed, and well befits their peculiar build. There are still upholders of the theory that the Manx cat is the result of a cross between the ordinary cat and the wild rabbit. Other natural historians reject this hypothesis with scorn, and aver that the first rumpy swam ashore at Spanish Head from a wrecked vessel of the Armada.* In a series of articles in The We.slern ?Mail, Jan.-Feb., 1934. Mr. David Thomas of Aberystwyth develops an interesting theory that the distribution of British call-words to animals confirms certain archaeological evidence relating to prehistoric invasions.
Cows. Cows have long enjoyed the privilege of a stock of conventional names, which are reserved for them only, but some of these are going out of use.
' Briggin,' Spotted or Piebald One, ' Bridgen,' a diminutive of Bride, the saint's name; ' Donnag,' Brownie ; ' Dooag,' Blackie ; ' Mailie ' or (in the North) ' Merlie,' Polled or Hornless One , these are native Manx. So probably is ' Hip.' T. E. Brown introduces a ' Copper' into " The Manx Witch." ' Silky ' is presumably the English word for a smoothcoated cow; it could hardly be the Orkney and Shetland ' selkie,' a seal. Other cow-names are English, including the misplaced one of ' Charlie,' which I have met with in hereditary use. ' Boaghans ' or ' Boghans,' the collective name for the now extinct black breed of cattle, means simply ' cows,' the English plural having been added to the Manx.
Calls to cattle, as to other animals, are, of course, used repetitively. ' Hor,' ' horlth ' or ' hoalth ' starts cows homeward at milking-time. In Galloway it is ' hurlie.' The words of command to horses, ' Cum-motha ' and ' Chee-beck,' are in some parts of the Island addressed to cows when they are being milked. ' Pirree ' sends Manx cattle afield. Cregeen has " Puihe, away cow, begone cow," which should perhaps be ' pruihe ' or something similar. ' Prue ' drives calves away. ' Kebeg ' (strong stress on ' beg ') is a call to calves, e.g., in a Lonan legend first noted by Charles Roeder ; in the West of the Island it is ' Pee-veg,' according to the V.A.D. In Galloway it is ' Pevay.' Roeder mentions ' Baa-beg ' as a Rushen call to a calf to come to its food. ' Beg' throughout is Manx, 'little.'
DOGS. Few, if any, dog-names are peculiar to the Isle of Man, unless ' Coaley ' or ' Coley ' is such. This is a pronunciation, perhaps learned from Scotch shepherds, of ' collie,' not a name for a black dog. ' Whallian ' (Manx) is still used, though rarely, in speaking of a young dog. A ' Houl'er ' (seethe V.A.D.) was the name of the now extinct native sheepdog, from its ability to ' hould,' or separate and immobilise, any sheep which was pointed out.
' Sthirr ' is the word of power that sends a dog after sheep or other animals, or encourages him to quest for game, or engage in battle with another dog, or even (in a story told to Roeder) to drive away fairies. The same expressive sound can be heard in Scotland. To his dog working sheep at a distance the Manxman shouts, when he wants him to keep behind them, hie on ' or ' drive on,' and ' get away' to head them off. Much is conveyed by signals of the arms also.
HORSES. Horses, especially mares, are given the Christian names common among the people; also the names ordinarily used for horses in England. 'Captain' is a favourite. ' Bonee ' is, or was, a general term for an old mare past work. A friend has heard it as a nickname also for a superannuated human being, or one enjoying leisure for some other reason.
' Coobie ' is a call to a horse in a field, to induce him to come to hand. ' Geens ' or ' M'geens ' is a word of encouragement in farm or road work. Goats are sometimes addressed by the same mystic sounds. ' Wor ' makes a horse turn to the right in ploughing -I have not heard it used on the road , it is equivalent to the English ' gee.' ' Cum-motha ' and ' chee-beck ' are for ' left ' and ' right ' (LaMothe, Manx Yarns, page 53). 'Way' makes a horse stop, and is equivalent to the English ' woa.' Brown 326 and Sag has ' wup ' and ' woahup ' for the same. ' Jeg, jeg ' is a call to horses in Malew, I have been told, but I have not heard it myself. My informant said it was really the Manx jishig, father, daddy, but it is more likely to be a part of the Manx verb meaning ' come,' into the protean transformations of which I decline to enter. ' Wachch,' with a prolonged guttural sound, drives a horse away (Roeder). It evidently contains the Gaelic each, horse.
PIGS. ' Thor ' or ' thoa ' is a call to a pig to come to food, when a call is needed. In Lonan, I am told, it is sounded more like ' thurr ' or ' thurra.' ' Treeah ' is another pig-call. Cregeen gives ' trush ' for the same purpose. With all these may be compared ' turrey,' an endearing name for any Ulster pig (Montiaghisms). ' Hudjags ' drives Manx pigs away ; doubtless it is meant for cooidjagh-ooilley cooidjagh, ' all together ! ' was the slogan of men heaving or hauling in concert. ' Immee ' to a pig or other animal is simply the Manx for 'go ! '
POULTRY. ' Ghosh, ghosh 'is the call to geese ; ' per, per ' to turkeys ; ' chuck, chuck ' to hens as in England, but the sound of the Irish tiuc, tiuc, similarly used, is identical with that of the English and Manx word. Fowls are ' scushed ' away, but the word itself is not addressed to them ; ' sthoo ' or ' shoo ' is used.
SHEEP. ' Possan ' or ' podhan ' was a word for a small flock or portion of a flock ; Manx possan, a collection of any kind of living creatures. ' Meg ' is still the universal name for a motherless lamb fed by hand. Kelly gives ' biggin ' for the same, but I have not heard it ; perhaps it is meant for ' beggan,' little one, or is an obsolete feminine of that word. ' Thaue ' or ' thoe ' drives sheep along, according to Cregeen.
EAR-MARKS ON SHEEP (cororey-keyragh).
The commoner practice nowadays is to daub the animal's head, back, or side with tar or raddle, or the side with the owner's initials in black or red, which requires renewal after shearing. Some shepherds, however, especially the mountain men, still cut the ears ; the distinction is then, of course, permanent. The different cuts provide a number of variations, and these can be greatly multiplied by making a different cut on each ear. The marking is done when the lamb is about a month old, or not much more.
The names for the ear-marks do not agree in all parts of the Island. Some names have gone out of use in places, and the general term ' beim ' is substituted. One word may even stand for different cuts in different districts. Hence such information as is now procurable is often vague and sometimes contradictory, and the following list of terms (gathered chiefly in the North) leaves ample room for additions and corrections :
Baare-beg, a small piece cut squarely off the tip of the ear. Manx for ' little top.'
Bab, a slit in the top of the ear. Manx for ' tip.'
Beim, a general name for an ear-mark, also used for particular cuts, as ' a beim off the point.' Manx for 'notch.'
Fork, a perpendicular V-shaped cut in the top of the ear-in Maughold, at any rate. It is made by folding the ear lengthwise and cutting off the point, thus making a wide notch in the tip. ' Fork ' is the Cumbrian name for the same mark. A semi-circle punched out of the top of the ear is also called a fork by some men.
Onaghan, a rectangular piece cut out, removing one side of the tip with a step-like result. Sometimes the upper or perpendicular part of the cut curves inward. Manx for ' angle.'
Point means the ear cut to a point, but is sometimes used for the ' fork ' mark as above.
Scob, a rectangular notch in the side of the ear, made by folding it downward and cutting off the corner of the fold. Manx for a lump cut off anything.
Scoltey, a perpendicular slit in the tip, apparently the same cut as the ' fork.' Manx for ' cleft.'
Skah, the tip of the ear cut off slantwise. " A mark
in the ear of a sheep " (Cregeen). Properly skar, a gash, nick or notch.
Towl, a hole punched through the ear. Manx for ' hole.'