Manx’s Surprising Revival


Half of the world’s languages are endangered, and rapidly passing into oblivion. Manx–the ancient Celtic tongue spoken on the Isle of Man–had all but vanished by the 1970s. Defying the odds, it has returned to daily use through the heroic efforts of Manx language warriors. I visited the Isle of Man recently to hear the story of Manx’s surprising survival.

Manxmen–as they call themselves–take pride in their resilience. “Whichever way you throw me, I will stand,” a Manx motto asserts. Thriving under Viking invasion, British colonization, and island isolation, the Manx have built a thriving, tech-savvy, 21st century culture.

Manx was declared extinct after the 1974 passing of “last speaker” Ned Maddrell, whose recorded voice may be heard in the local museum. As Manx slipped into dormancy, those who spoke even a little were made to feel ashamed. People mostly stopped speaking Manx in public, and many disavowed or neglected it.

Some managed to learn Manx as a second language, by listening to legacy recordings, talking with elders, and reading old books. So, even though for a time no native speakers may have remained, there was a continuity of spoken Manx.

The author listening to the recorded —> Read More Here


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