Each month, Breesha Maddrell, director of Culture Vannin, looks at the journey of Manx culture and its importance to our sense of identity and belonging.
The way we communicate with each other is fundamental to our sense of identity and community.
The Isle of Man has welcomed people from different places in the world over its history, just as it has set out people to explore and settle in all corners of the earth.
The wonderful thing about culture is that we carry it with us, and we all have a role to play in the way that it is shaped as a community.
Language is a distinctive way of expressing identity, one that transcends our need to be understood.
The way we shape our accent and speech patterns is often one of choice, something that becomes very personal to us.
In the Isle of Man, we have something very special in the Manx language, and in the Manx English (Anglo-Manx) dialect, which we know from recitations of T E Brown and from our daily lives.
Even if you don’t speak Manx, you will know phrases such as ‘traa dy liooar’ (time enough) and ‘graih my chree’ (love of my heart) because they have become part of our cultural make-up.
What is wonderful is that all schools now offer Manx lessons to those who choose it, giving our young people a greater confidence and sense of place.
The Manx Heritage Foundation – our full charity name and the name we went by for decades – now Culture Vannin has been privileged to have been involved in the success story of the Manx language for some time.
That success is a longer story of community cooperation for over 120 years, with more recent targeted government support.
We played a lobbying and funding role in relation to the first Manx language officer within the school system in 1992, something now firmly established as the Manx Language Unit.
We have also employed a language development officer since 1998 to work with the community.
Today our ‘Greinneyder’ (Manx for ‘encourager’) teaches adults around the world on Zoom and in person, as well as supporting the language in many varied ways.
Working together with the Manx Language Network, Jeebin, we have been delighted to help the Isle of Man strengthen the protection of Manx internationally, signing up to Part 3 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2021.
This was only possible because of the wonderful work in the community, in education – from Mooinjer Veggey’s nursery provision, to DESC’s peripatetic teachers and the Manx medium Bunscoill Ghaelgagh – and through rich archives at Manx National Heritage, as well as research and resource development.
Language shows us that we are best when we work together – so much so that Manx Gaelic has attracted the attention of the New York Times, the Irish Times, Italian and French TV, to name but a few in the last few months.
The Manx language is a story of global significance.
If you’ve ever thought about becoming involved, Culture Vannin will hold a Manx Gaelic summer school, suitable for beginners and intermediates this July.
If you want to find out more about the summer school, check out www.learnmanx.com and sign up while there are still spaces!
Gaelg aboo – hurray for Manx!