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OED adds 22 Manx words

Thursday, 14 June 2018

With the assistance of local agencies and individuals on the Isle of Man, including the Manx National Heritage Library & Archives and Culture Vannin, OED researchers have been spending time trawling a variety of local sources, including newspapers, books, twitter feeds, and the Hansards of Tynwald, to identify words and phrases that are characteristic of English as spoken on the Island.

The result: twenty-two new words, compounds, and phrases originating in the Isle of Man will take their place in the next OED update, alongside newly-revised and updated entries for Manx words and senses.

The inclusion of the Manx words is a welcome boost during 2018 Year of Our Island, a celebration of the Isle of Man as a special place to live and work.

Everyone on the island will be familiar with Tynwald, the national legislative body of the Isle of Man, and many residents celebrate hop tu naa, marked on the 31st October by children singing songs door-to-door and the display of lanterns carved from turnips. But how many have seen the phynnodderee, defined as a supernatural being characterized by its thick coat of hair and said to help farmers perform tasks of superhuman strength? Far more likely is an encounter with the loaghtan, a breed of small sheep originating on the island, notable for having four or sometimes six horns.

Wherever you are on the island, there’s always traa dy liooar - ‘time enough’ – for a skeet, a word that can mean gossip as well as a peek or quick look. But let’s not be calling anyone a gobbag, a term which, in the past, has been used depreciatively to mean an uncultured, rough, or backward person. In later use, this word has taken on more positive associations, as a name for someone born or resident in the town of Peel.

Kelvin Corlett, Senior Assistant Editor of the OED says,

'One of the most striking features of the Manx-English dialect words newly added to the OED is how clearly they demonstrate the Island's diverse linguistic heritage, with words of Norse, Gaelic, and English origin. The words reflect many aspects of life on the Island, its culture and its history, ranging from politics and legal institutions, to agriculture, folklore, and everyday matters. Above all, perhaps, these words exemplify the way that even relatively small communities contribute to the richness of the English language as spoken and written around the world.'

Chris Thomas MHK, Chair of Culture Vannin, said:

‘Year of Our Island is celebrating the Isle of Man as a special place to live and work and what greater way of celebrating than to have multiple Manx entries in the latest update of the OED. Language tells the story of who we are, of how we interpret the world around us, so it’s wonderful to have a much longer list of dialect words and terminology specific to the Isle of Man published in the OED this time, including many words whose origins lie in Manx Gaelic.’

He added:

‘I am also delighted that my use of traa dy liooar in the 2017 Illiam Dhone address regarding the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act gets a mention as modern usage of this Manx-English word.’

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