Isle of Man and its Manx Language

  • November 03, 2020      Friendly Borders Staff

Douglas – Any visitor is sure to enjoy a delightful time in the Isle of Man, where basking sharks and Manx cats live. The island is a relatively small one, located in the Irish Sea, just off the northwest coast of England. Travelers visit the island for its history and the promise of adventure.

The picturesque island is also home to the Manx people. There are few written records of this indigenous group, so it is good to know them before visiting the Isle of Man.

The Manx People and Their Language

The Isle of Man is home to an ethnically diverse society. The Manx people comprise the largest ethnic group, and they live on the island together with the Irish, Scots, and English.

The Manx people have a native culture that is significantly Gaelic. Many of the coastal towns and villages that are traditional settlements have turned into various centers: administrative, farming, fishing, and religious ones. A close look into their practices reveals some Norse and English influences. However, the most important component of Manx culture is the language. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the most important tool in keeping the Manx culture alive.

Decline and Revival of the Manx language

There are very few left who speak the Manx language, resulting in its decline. However, there is enough knowledge to identify its origin and connections.

The Manx language belongs to the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, which in turn belongs to a branch of the Indo-European language family.

The decline in Manx language use started in the early 1970s. Initially, this change gradually occurred as the population started using English more than Manx, most significantly in raising their children. Despite this trend, many are fighting to preserve their indigenous language trying to revive the Manx language. It is good to see that there has been an attempt to revive the Manx language.

The government has since allowed the use of the Manx language in schools, giving the younger members of the community an opportunity to learn and practice speaking and writing the Manx language. Aside from preserving the language and rediscovering its deep connection to their ethnic culture, using Manx in school has inspired many parents to learn the language because now, their children speak it. It shows a hopeful future for the continuous spread and acceptance of the Manx language among ethnic communities.

Moreover, with modern technology and the ever-increasing interest in the indigenous language, Manx culture is now represented in everyday life, from the young ones’ conversations, to music, and even social media materials. This will be a revival that will touch an important aspect of society and impact the future generations of the Manx people as well as all who live in the Isle of Man.

Image from IsleofManbyDrone,

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