Manx English

Location of the Isle of Man within Ireland and the UK.

Manx English, or Anglo-Manx (Manx: Baarle Ghaelgagh), is the historic dialect of English spoken on the Isle of Man, though today in decline. It has many borrowings from Manx, a Goidelic language, and it differs widely from any other variety of English, including dialects from other areas in which Celtic languages are or were spoken, such as Welsh English and Hiberno-English.

Early Anglo-Manx contained words of Gaelic and Norse origin, but also came to be influenced by the speech of Liverpool and Lancashire in North West England. The Manx historian and linguist A.W. Moore noted that the dialect varied slightly from parish to parish but that the same turns of phrase and the same stock of words pervaded the whole Island. A.W. Moore's A Vocabulary of the Anglo-Manx Dialect (Oxford University Press, 1924) and W.W. Gill's Manx Dialect Words and Phrases (J.W. Arrowsmith, 1934) document the high-water mark of this dialect.

The poet T.E. Brown was one of the first authors to use the Manx dialect in his work.

In the early 20th century, poems and plays in the dialect were written by Cushag, J. J. Kneen, Christopher R. Shimmin and Juan Noa. In the mid-20th century, Kathleen Faragher wrote poetry in the dialect.

Immigration and cultural influences from elsewhere, particularly the United Kingdom, have caused the disappearance of the dialect, with the exception of a few words and phrases.


Manx English has been unusually well-researched. In the 19th century, Kirk Christ and Kirk Patrick were covered by surveyors working for Alexander John Ellis's work On Early English Pronunciation. In the 20th century, sites on the Isle of Man were covered by both the Survey of English Dialects and the Linguistic Survey of Scotland. The two sites for the former were Andreas and Ronague; the recordings of the local dialects are now accessible for free online via the British Library.[1]