I’m on the Isle of Man at the moment doing some research for my dissertation on the revival of the Manx (Gaelic) language. I’m staying in Douglas (Doolish), the island’s capital, and plan to explore other parts of the island – it’s partly a holiday for me as well as a way to collect data.
One of the things I’m investigating is the use of Manx in public. On the ferry from Liverpool they used the Manx for good morning, moghrey mie, a few times in announcements, though that was the only Manx I heard yesterday. I also found some leaflets with collections of useful Manx phrases at the ferry terminal, including some with translations in French, German and Spanish.
When exploring Douglas today I noticed quite a few English/Manx bilingual street signs, and that most government departments, and some shops and other businesses have English and Manx names. So the public visibility of the language is quite high, but you only hear it spoken at certain times and in certain places, which is similar to the situation with Irish in Dublin. For example, today I sat in on a Manx conversation class that takes place every Tuesday lunchtime in a local pub. It was the first time I’d heard live Manx conversation, and somewhat to my surprise, I could understand almost everything they said, which is encouraging. My knowledge of Irish and Scottish Gaelic certainly helps.
Tomorrow I’ll be visiting the Manx medium primary school and talking to some of the teachers. I discovered today that most of the kids there only speak Manx in the school – outside school and at home the speak mainly or entirely in English, except in a few Manx-speaking families. I’ll find out more about this tomorrow.