THE existence of a Manx Grammar in German is known to only few persons, and references thereto in literature are still fewer. Attention was first called to it by Prince L. L. Bonaparte, the distinguished philologist, who had a copy of the work containing it in his library which left this country [England] about ten years ago for Chicago. The Prince considered it a "really good Manx grammar."
The work in question, which is very scarce, is in two volumes entitled "Ferienschriften. Vermischte abhandlungen zur geschichte der deutschen und keltischen sprache," and was published in Halle in 1847 and 1852 by its author, Dr. Heinrich Leo, a German philologist. The Manx grammar is the third article in volume I and occupies pages 117 to 242.
In the introduction Dr. Leo describes how, when he desired to direct his attention to the study of the Celtic languages, and Manx in particular, he tried to obtain a copy of Dr. Kellys Manx Grammar (1804) from the principal libraries in Germany and afterwards through the second-hand booksellers in England, but in vain. The work had become very scarce. There remained nothing for him, he says, but to master it (Manx) by the help of the New Testament published by the Bible Society. His method is instructive. Unlike Kelly, he states, who had the language in its living fulness before his eyes, he had to learn it as a dead language, and his first step was to read the Manx Testament through, comparing it with an Irish translation; then he read it through again in order to draw up an index of the entire store of words and phrases, and yet again with the object of the grammar in view.
The main portion (Formenlehre) is divided into nine sections as follows :
II. Declensions of substantives, adjectives,and pronouns (the latter including contractions of prepositions therewith).
(a) Periphrastic conjugation and the "progressive substantives."
( b) Auxiliary verbs dy ye and jannoo
(c) to (f) Formation of present, preterite, future and potential.
(g) The "consuetudinalis" or verbal form of agli.
(h) Paradigm of a regular Manx verb (moylley)topraise),including simple verbal and periphrastic formation.
(i) (j) Irregular verbs and those with-out personal inflections.
V. Substantive formation of derived substantives, besides the "progressive substantive."
VI to IX. Prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, in-terjections.
Numerous forms of ellipsis and aspiration are incidentally dealt with.
The Grammar has many good points. It does not follow the lines of the Latin Grammar as in the case of Dr. Kellys Manx Grammar, for which he has been taken to task by later critics. The use and forms of words are illustrated by many quotations from the New Testament of passages where they occur, and the needs of syntax are thereby met. Considering the limited material at command the work testifies to the skill and industry of its author. But at the same time it cannot be regarded as a practical or successful Grammar, because of the many gaps which had to be supplied by surmise or by analogy with Scotch Gaelic, and Dr. Leos deductions are unfortunately often not in accord with fact.
Other articles in "Ferienschriften" are also of Manx interest, notably those on the relationship of the German language to the Celtic languages. A large number of selected words are given with their equivalents in the various branches of Celtic, including Manx. Volume II contains inter alia, an Irish Grammar, compiled by Dr. Leo, much on the same lines as his Manx Grammar.
G. W. WOOD.