The Linguist

The Linguist 54,5

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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18 The Linguist Vol/54 No/5 2015 FEATURES Declared extinct in 2009, the language of the Isle of Man has been revived. Sarah Whitehead investigates "I often go to my local pub The Albert to speak Manx to friends, which is strange to think, given that years ago this could have ended up with me being asked to leave a pub," said Adrian Cain. The Albert is a local watering hole in Port St Mary on the south coast of the Isle of Man where, according to Cain, drinkers can now be heard conversing over their pint glasses in a language declared extinct by Unesco in 2009. Cain, Manx Gaelic Development Officer at the Manx Heritage Foundation, is one of the thousands of speakers of Manx, a Goidelic language, closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. After centuries of lying dormant the language is now experiencing an unexpected revival. "The Manx language is a wonderful comeback story," says David Harrison, a lecturer who has spent the past 20 years studying endangered languages around the world. "It impressed me so much because it was a language that defied the odds against survival," he says. The decline of Manx During the 19th century the native language of Man became increasingly overshadowed by English. Islanders began raising their children in English with the view that Manx would soon become useless. Evidence of this can be seen as far back as 1872 in a letter published in the Manx newspaper Mona's Herald, where Reverend J T Clarke lamented the decline of his mother tongue: "In order to be able to deal in the English markets, it is English, and only English, Manx people must learn to speak." By 1901 only 9.1% of the population could speak Manx and over the next two decades this figure quickly dropped to 1.1%, according to official census figures. A mid-19th century recession cemented an association between the language and economic decline. "As with many endangered languages, the Manx people have been made to think their language is worthless," said Harrison. "These negative attitudes get internalised by communities, which causes them to let go of their language. They had to reverse this mentality." Yet throughout the decline there have been many people fighting to preserve the language. Evidence of support can be found in 1897 in a notice in the local paper of Peel. It invited people with an interest in the Manx language to attend a meeting, marking the beginnings of the Manx Language Society, which was officially founded two years later. The last speakers One of the biggest pioneers in the revival is Brian Stowell, who decided to learn the Manx language in 1953 after reading an article about a man called Douglas Faragher, who was concerned about the rapid decline of his mother The rites of Manx

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