The Linguist

The Linguist 54,6

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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Page 27 of 35

I was very interested in Sarah Whitehead's article, 'The Rites of Manx' (TL54,5). I lived on the Isle of Man for 16 years and went to school there during the war. Having taught myself Scottish Gaelic, I was able to make out the meaning of many Manx place names, though there were also Scandinavian names from the time of Viking rule. I noticed that, at school, there was no longer instruction of vowel symmetry, with which Gaelic spelling is ruled. This means that the last vowel of one syllable and the first one of the next syllable must be of the same group: e and i in one group; a, o and u in the other. Also, in Gaelic, 'cn' before a vowel is pronounced 'cr'; so cnoc ('hill') becomes cronk in Manx, although it is sometimes confused with the English 'knock'. At the opening of Tynwald (the parliament, named by the early Viking ruler) at St John's, in the centre of the island, there is a ceremony on an artificial hill made of sods from all the shedings ('provinces'; from the Manx for 'six' because there are six of them). The hill is built in tiers in order of authority: the top one is for the sovereign or governor; members of the public are at the bottom. At the ceremony, the laws passed the previous year are named and described by the liathair ('reader'), first in Manx and then in English. In the 1940s there was an attempt to revive Manx in one of the schools, as was also done for old Cornish in Cornwall. In Scotland, Gaelic had declined, but much has since been achieved to revive it. Now the street signs in the Highlands and islands are in both Gaelic and English. There are also schools teaching entirely in Gaelic and the language is becoming very popular. R A Gordon Stuart FCIL Professor Varney's letter (TL54,5) evoked my sympathy. Many years ago, when I was running the modern languages department in a college, I welcomed the active participation of retired language teachers. They did not want a full-time job, but two or three hours' teaching a week could mean an intellectual high-spot into which they pitched more enthusiasm and effort than any full-time teacher can spare. Everyone benefitted. Now aged 84, under the auspices of the University of the Third Age (, Star letter This issue's Star Letter writer wins a BBC Active Talk Complete self-taught course. For a chance to win your choice of course (French, Italian, German or Spanish), share your views via 28 The Linguist Vol/54 No/6 2015 OPINION & COMMENT Email with your views More on Manx Not so idle talent STAR LETTER Maurice Varney complains that not enough people write to The Linguist, so here goes! I too am getting on in years. I am 87, an ex- policeman but, unlike Professor Varney, I left school at 13 and only speak three languages. I find that people do have use for people like us, who have a knowledge of languages. The Alliance Française de Londres produces a catalogue of speakers on various subjects; I was one until recently, and remain vice- président of the Société Littéraire Française de Liverpool. I also attend a weekly French Club and the Círculo Español de Liverpool. There are equivalents in other languages. To sum up, the complaint appears to be not necessarily with 'les belles dormantes' but rather le bois dans lequel elles dorment. Francis Doyle MCIL Jane Galbraith replies: As the Institute's relatively new Head of Membership, I was delighted to read Professor Varney's letter and couldn't agree more with the sentiment. CIOL's USP is the diversity of its members, who between them have a wide range of knowledge and experience, not just in the languages used but across the different professions where the use of a language is a key requirement. As our Chair of Council, Keith Moffitt, states in his Notes (p.4), the new membership pathway work will enable us to build stronger relationships with language learners, and translators and interpreters in training, and one of the things we could potentially offer less experienced linguists is a route to support from fellow members. Watch this space! I attend a German group where we discuss, at native speaker level, articles from Der Spiegel; a French group; and a Spanish conversation group in a local pub. I would invite Professor Varney and the many who share his frustration to contribute some of their expertise to this rewarding initiative. He asks what the CIOL might do to help preserve and exploit this vast reservoir of talent. I should be as interested as he to read any suggestions. David Leighton MCIL © SHUTTERSTOCK

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