A study of language death and revival with a particular focus on Manx Gaelic

by Simon Ager

The fortunes of languages can rise and fall and are intimately linked to the fortunes of their speakers. Relatively few languages are becoming increasingly widely-spoken in the world today and it is becoming more and more difficult for smaller languages to survive. However prospects for smaller languages are not entirely gloomy and a number have been successfully revived or revitalised, and initiatives are underway to do the same for other languages.

Themes of language death and revival are explored in this dissertation, with a particular focus on the Manx language. It contains information from Manx speakers, learners and others involved with the language, as well as information from the literature.

This dissertation aims to answer the following questions:

  • How and why do languages die?
  • Can languages be revived?
  • How and why did Manx decline?
  • How was Manx revived?
  • What is the current state of Manx?
  • How might Manx develop in the future?
  • How does the revival of Manx compare to other language revivals?

Read the dissertation (PDF format, 517K)

About the Author

Simon Ager, the author of Omniglot, wrote this dissertation in 2009 as part of an MA in Linguistics.

Here's a video of a talk I did on the subject at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin in June 2014.

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