Resusitating Manx

Languages intrigue me. That is not to say that I am very good with them, not even my native English á la Americaine. As early as Kindergarten I thought it was fun learning to talk a special way. The teacher at my private Episcopalian kindergarten taught us French. The problem was that 10 numbers and 8 colors did not get me very far beyond a lukewarm “That’s nice, son” from my parents.

My next attempt at learning another language was a year of Spanish with Ms. Gibbs in high school. It was nice, and interesting. I started the year with a lot of enthusiasm for it, but my best friend had opted for French, which resulted in a lost opportunity for more fun and helpful practice.

Growing up, though, the language that really interested me was German. Why? Everone asks me that and by now I should have an answer — but I don’t. It had something, vaguely, to do with the movie The Sound of Music and my Swiss-American girlfriend in High School.

My own family background is Scots-Irish, like that of many families in Western North Carolina where I grew up. No one I knew spoke or taught Gaelic, so it never crossed my mind that Gaelic was option for a second language. The neglect of Gaelic has been a real problem, even in it’s native lands. An extreme example is Manx, an off-shoot of Old Irish Gaelic once spoken on the Isle of Man. ‘Once’ means that it died with the last native speaker.

Yet, somewhat like Frankenstein, it’s back. (You have to admit that academics do have their uses.) In this case, academics have preserved and promulgated Manx as a usable language.

This article in Science Daily celebrates the rejuvenation of Manx as a viable language on the Isle of Man. Check out ScienceDaily.com.

Since I committed early to the German language, I have to disclose that I’m reporting this resurrection of Manx on behalf of my cats, both are Manx, adorable, great personalities, bob-tailed, brother and sister — however, they ended up with German names — Fleck and Kai. They would saw hello in Old Gaelic, if they knew how.

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