Tuesday, 02 September 2014

UN in your language

UK & Ireland: Manx Language School Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary

Douglas Isle of Man welcome signBunscoill Ghaelgagh, a primary school that teaches through the Manx language, celebrated its tenth anniversary in late June this year.

Manx is the traditional Gaelic language of the Isle of Man but it had been on a steady decline since the late 19th century, with the last native speaker of Manx, Ned Maddrell, dying in 1974. Since then, however, there have been a number of serious efforts to revive the language, including the establishment of Bunscoil Ghaelgagh. With the school roll having grown from just nine students to sixty nine in ten years; it is evident that many parents on the Isle of Man consider the preservation of the Gaelic language to be a goal of significant cultural importance.

Manx is considered by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to be a “critically endangered” language, and is one of ten languages in the British Isles described as “vulnerable” or “endangered” by the organisation.

Despite strong efforts made to preserve languages such as Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh as living languages, many have struggled to stem the decline in the number of native speakers as a percentage of the population and the increasing dominance of English.

Efforts to revive Manx as a spoken tongue have succeeded in bucking this trend, however, as recent census figures suggest that an increasing number of residents of the Isle of Man (about 2.2% of the population) are claiming some knowledge of the language; an achievement helped, in no small part, by initiatives such as Bunscoil Ghaelgagh.


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