Manx English 2016: Research into Influences on Manx-English from Across the Water


Before the 17th Century, little is known about the English spoken on the Isle of Man. Indeed, “few spoke the English tongue” when Chaloner visited in 1656 and experts are unsure as to what type of English was spoken here at that time.  Post 17th Century however, the Anglican clergy spread English through education and English smugglers spread the language through trade.  Throughout the 18th and 19th Century, English spoken on the Island grew and Manx and English lived side by side. It is likely that it is at this time that a Manx accent and dialect of English would have developed.

Since this time, Manx English has been exalted through distinguished poetry (namely through the much loved T.E.Brown) but also seems to be succumbing to levelling influences from across the water.  My interest lies in phonology and this project focusses on the accent of Manx English, I will look at the sounds which are distinctive and I will try to determine where these are from.

The project is about listening to and understanding the Manx accent today.  From the ‘Recording Mann’ project in 2002 (Led by Andrew Hamer), I will be able to compare the accent then with the accent in 2016.  Going back even further, the Isle of Man was included in the Survey of English Dialects and recordings and phonetic transcriptions are available from 1962-1963.  This again is a great comparison point for the Manx accent spoken today.

The Isle of Man has a wonderful and unique accent of English.  It has been influenced by neighbouring places and also by Celtic and Norse ancestry.  As an island, it has a clear boundary (the Irish Sea), therefore it is interesting to see if the water is in fact acting as a barrier to external accents coming over and influencing Manx English.

If anyone is interested in my project please read my website

If anyone would like to get in touch to share any comments don’t hesitate to contact me further.


2 thoughts on “Manx English 2016: Research into Influences on Manx-English from Across the Water

  1. This sounds really interesting. Given the changing nature of the Manx population over the last decade, I’d imagine you envisioning significant shifts in the phonology? Will you research include this non-Manx born population?

    • Hi Ray, yes I expect big changes but am hoping for lots of distinctive colloquialisms to still be apparent within everyday speech and within the phonology. I like to see regional accents thriving and have found the Liverpool accent in particular is quite resistant to outside influences. This may or may not be the case with the Manx accent. In terms of non-Manx born population, I am hoping to get a general idea of the accent of the island so this may include the non-Manx born population but I think I will focus on those that were schooled on the island.

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