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Ex-pats in US offered Manx language class
MANXIES in America yearning for a bit of home culture can now satisfy their craving with a course of lessons in the Manx language. The course, arranged by the North American Manx Association starting later this month, is expecting to attract up to 20 pupils – an impressive total for a group 3,000 miles from home.
The course was the idea of Kelly McCarthy of the Greater Washington Area Manx Society, part of the North American Manx Association, who asked Bill Cassidy to teach it.
Mrs McCarthy said:
‘Bill Cassidy, or Illiam as we naturally call him, has taught himself Manx. He already speaks Irish and Scottish Gaelic so all we had to do was work on his accent!
‘We decided to offer the classes and are staggered to find a few people here who are interested in learning. They are of Manx heritage and would like to be able to learn a little conversational Manx.
‘He’s a big fan of Brian Stowell’s Bun-Choorse Gaelgagh and does actually listen to Manx Radio via podcasts.’
The study group – Kiarkyl ny Gaelgey, the Manx Gaelic Circle – is to meet twice a month for a two-hour session until June. Mr Cassidy already speaks and has taught Scottish Gaelic and has studied the Manx language on his own.
‘Most of the people we’ve heard from so far have some Manx heritage, and others, like me, have studied Scottish Gaelic or Irish and are interested in learning more about Manx.
‘I’ve wanted to work on improving my Manx for some time and this is the perfect opportunity,’ Mr Cassidy said.
His interest in the language was originally sparked in the 1980s when he picked up a copy of the book First Lessons in Manx at a bookshop in Manhattan. Since then, honing his language skills particularly in the more obscure languages has been made far easier by the internet.
‘Of course, there were no CDs, no internet in those days, only a few books and fewer cassette tapes.
‘Today, you can go to learnmanx.com and download sound files to hear how words are pronounced, listen to conversations, and watch videos.
‘Radio programmes such as Moghrey Jedoonee are available over the internet, too, and with Skype and other communication technologies, you can even talk to Manx speakers over the internet, free of charge.
‘We hope to use all these tools in our group, as well as Brian Stowell’s Bun-choorse Gaelgagh. We’d like to connect with other learning groups on the island and elsewhere as well,’ he said.
The group’s goals for the course are to learn about the language and how it works with the emphasis on basic conversational skills using the materials available. Anyone interested can track their progress on the web site at www.kiarkyl.wordpress.com