Vel oo mie? Are you well?
In our last Manx mini-lesson (June 18), we looked at ways to ask “How are you?”
Two of the most common are:
Kanys ta shiu? The way to say “how are you?” politely or to a group of people.
Kys t’ou? An informal version of the same used with friends, family or children.
But there’s another way to get there, using the verb “to be.”
Ta is the present tense of the verb to be, meaning “it is”
Cha nel is the negative form in the present tense — “it is not”
Vel? Is the interrogative, the form we use to ask questions — “Is it?” “Are …?”
Therefore, if we want to ask someone “Are you well?” we say:
Vel oo mie? That’s “are” followed by the personal pronoun “you” and “well.”
Remembering the pronouns and vocabulary from the last lesson, we can use “ta”, “cha nel” and “vel?” to string together some basic sentences.
Cha nel mee mie. I am not well.
Ta Juan skee. John is tired.
Ta mee feer-vie. I am very well.
Cha nel Moirrey feer-vie. Mary isn’t very well.
Ta mee braew. I’m fine.
Ta mee caistreycair. I’m middling.
Ta mee ching. I’m ill.
Note that the verb “to be” comes first in the sentence — Manx sentence order is Verb, Subject, Object, unlike English is Subject, Verb, Object.
After someone’s enquired about your health, it’s only polite to thank them, which we do by saying gura mie eu, if we’re being formal, and gura mie ayd, informally.
Remember that Manx, like many European languages, uses the plural form in polite situations as well, when talking with strangers or social superiors, for example.
And now a note on the vocative case. We use the vocative case when addressing someone, either by name or some other title. For example, James in Manx is Jamys. But if we’re calling James, we say “Yamys.” In the vocative case, the initial consonant softens.
Jamys becomes Yamys
Juan becomes Yuan
Moirrey becomes Voirrey
dooiney becomes whooiney.
The last is not a name, but a noun – dooiney, man. “Whooiney” is used in expressions in much the same way we might say “man” or “dude” (depending on your age) on this side of the Atlantic. A Manx equivalent, according to the folks at LearnManx.com, is “yessir.”
In this case, James has just completed the Parish Walk:
Vel oo skee, Yamys? Are you tired, James?
Ta, ta mee skee whooiney. Yes, I am tired yessir.
And I am too. Here’s wishing you all oie vie — good night, gura mie eu.