Manx language championed at British-Irish Council Conference

Thursday, 26 October 2023

The Manx language has been championed at a Ministerial meeting of the British-Irish Council held in Jersey earlier this month.

Isle of Man representatives at the British-Irish Council Conference standing between two standing billboards

The Conference focused on the Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages work sector, and was a crucial platform to raise awareness of linguistic diversity.

Ministerial delegates representing the UK, Isle of Man, Jersey, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were in attendance. The delegates discussed the 2023 policy report and approved a Forward Work Plan to guide activities up to 2026.

Political member for Education, Sport and Culture, Claire Christian MHK, represented the Isle of Man at the conference, using the platform to reinforce a commitment to the Manx language. Mrs Christian cited The Manx Language Strategy 2022-2032 which aims to increase Manx speakers from approximately 2,000 to 5,000 by 2032.

Glasgow University PhD student Erin McNulty, who learnt to speak Manx at school on the Isle of Man, also presented evidence of the ongoing progress of the language. Manx is now offered as a curricular option in all primary and secondary schools, including the Teisht Chadjin Ghaelgagh (GCSE equivalent) and the Ard-Teisht Ghaelgagh (A-Level equivalent).

Mrs Christian said:

‘The conference served as a remarkable platform for learning, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas, further solidifying our commitment to linguistic diversity.

‘Since the launch of The Manx Language Strategy last year, our focus has been on training, advocacy, and most importantly, nurturing a vibrant community of Manx speakers.

‘This conference marks an important milestone in our collective journey. Together, we will continue to champion linguistic diversity, promote cultural heritage, and ensure the enduring legacy of our indigenous, minority, and lesser used languages.’

As part of the Forward Work Plan, The Isle of Man, in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Executive and the Welsh Government, will lead efforts to develop a ‘Linguistic Infrastructure’. This includes a focus on dictionaries, corpus search technology, place names, machine translation, and future AI advancements.

Development of linguistic infrastructure is evident in the Manx Corpus Search website, a unique resource with documents dating back to 1610. The site allows users to look up words and phrases in context. The Manx Language Strategy envisions further expanding this searchable database with side-by-side translations.

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