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'sManx 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.
Some of the following terms surviving from the original Anglo-Manx dialect are still in occasional use today. The task of identifying dialectal usage is complicated by the large cross-over between Manx Gaelic, idiomatic usage and technical/administrative terms such as "advocate" and "deemster".
Across – The United Kingdom; referred to as across the water.
At – In possession of (from Gaelic usage). He's got a nice house at him (from Gaelic description of possession)
Yessir – Recorded by A.W. Moore in 1924 as a "disrespectful form of addressing a boy or man", used as an informal address to a local acquaintance in modern Anglo-Manx. Early 20th-century sources suggest that its origin may lie in a contraction of You, Sir, but Gaelic scholars have suggested that it is a hangover from Ussey, the emphatic form of You in Manx Gaelic, which is used in a similar context. Not congruous with Yes, Sir in mainstream English.
Words of Manx Gaelic origin frequently cropped up in the original dialect, as did patterns of speech derived from Gaelic usage. In modern usage, much fewer words of Gaelic origin are used, symptomatic of the decline of Manx Gaelic in its later years.
Tynwald – the Manx parliament, from Old NorseThingvollr and originally written similarly to Icelandic with a þ which is pronounced [θ]. The thing means an assembly or court of justice and the vollr is a field or plain.
Superstitions and word replacement
V'eh mee-lowit dy enmys mwaagh er boayrd, as conning, marish roddan as kayt. Va'n mwaagh 'fer yn chleaysh vooar', as yn conning 'pomet', as yn roddan 'sacote', as yn kayt 'scraverey'.
Because of the unpredictable nature of weather in the Irish Sea, fishing could be a dangerous business – sailors were consequently very superstitious and it was considered taboo to use certain words or behaviours (using the word conney for rabbit, or whistling, for example) whilst on board ship. Some names were substituted for others – "rat" became "sacote" or "long-tailed fellow", amongst other names.
This has evolved into a modern superstition in which the word "rat" (roddan in Manx) is considered unlucky, even when not used aboard ship. Although this particular sea-taboo was one amongst many and was not held to apply on land, it has become a popular modern belief that the word is somehow unlucky, and the sea-taboo has been adopted by some as a typical Manx practice, even though the old Manx people had no qualms in using the word, or its Manx equivalent, roddan. In modern times, even non-local and unsuperstitious people will refrain from using the word "rat", perhaps in an effort to fit in with those who take it seriously, or in an attempt to sound folksy. In reality this is a rather warped version of the original sea-taboo.
Alternative words for rat in neo-Anglo-Manx dialect include longtail, Iron fella, Joey, Jiggler, Queerfella, Ringie, an r-a-t (a more recent expression).
A few phrases have survived to become common parlance, amongst these (all of Gaelic origin):
Traa dy liooar – (Trah the looar) Manx for "time enough", either an incitement to take things easier, or an insult to a lazy person.
lhiam-lhiat – (lyam-lyat) An inconsistent person who changes sides easily – from Manx Gaelic for "with me – with thee"
Bock Yuan Fannee – "John the Flayer's Pony" – on foot, cf "Shanks' pony" in colloquial English.
Shoh Slaynt – The Manx toast, a Manx translation of "here's health", used as "cheers".