A number of years ago when I was looking to buy a house on the Island I looked at an old property in Port Erin which was owned by an elderly lady from the south of England. She told me that she had just had some work done by someone with a Manx name that she had never been able to pronounce. The name turned out to be Kennaugh, which I have to admit, is a tough one to the uninitiated. At the same time I was working in a school, after having just returned to the Island, and I can remember amazing a student by correctly pronouncing her first name,Breeshey. Not many had apparently achieved this remarkable achievement.
We are probably fighting a losing battle on many of the subtleties of Manx life including certain ways of pronunciation. My uncle, whose father was a lighthouse keeper, was brought up in Jeremy Clarkson's Manx home; he (my uncle and not Jeremy Clarkson that is) refers to the area as Durbyhaven and not Derbyhaven and to him it is also definitely kregnaysh and not kregneesh (Cregneash). I suppose, as a Manx speaker, you are aware of such changes, whilst continuing to fight the losing battle of referring to Creg ny Baa as Creg na baa and not na bar whilst also getting a little corree (angry) with anyone who gets Dalby or Lewaigue wrong.
However, for all those losses over the years in pronunciation and other subtle nuances of Manx cultural and economic life (apparently there used to be shops in Port st Mary for example) the Island remains resolutely Manx. Mark Steel in his recent programme on the Island commented on the ubiquitous nature of the three legs -particularly on lamp posts! - whilst the upcoming Tynwald day celebrations, and equally important Tin Bath Races, are evidence of a strong and vibrant culture.
Clearly, I'll trumpet the successes of the language movement. It saddens me that many/most of those who struggled for the language since the war didn't live to see the remarkable success of their unpaid and often thankless task; however, we can be confident that we have created a legacy for them to be proud off.
This was brought home to me by another recent visit to the Bunscoill, this time, for their summer concert. I'm not sure if many of the children there are ever likely to refer to Durbyhaven the way my uncle does, but we can rest assured, that they will have a strong sense of place and identity in a rapidly changing world.
I'll be starting a new evening class for beginners in Purt le Moirrey in September: help with pronunciation provided!
Laa Tynvaal sonney dhyt - Happy Tynwald day