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Is it Corjeag or Cavendish?

Thu, 16 Aug 2012


I got most of my Manx from a great speaker of the language whose middle name was Corjeag. Now as far as I'm aware there aren't any Corjeags left in the Island, although there may be elsewhere in the world. Corjeag probably comes from 'cur jeag' or a 'giving dish' or 'church collection plate' and it was anglicised in the 19th Century to Cavendish. There may not be any Corjeags left now but the name Cavendish has a certain resonance at the moment!

Still in the world of cycling, the name Kennaugh may not have had such an eventful history as Cavendish, but it is a quintessentially Manx name which means 'fair one'.

Most people will be aware that many Manx surnames have either a Gaelic or Norse origin to them. Cain, Kelly, Kennaugh, Craine, Mylchreest, Clague etc. originating from the former and names such as Cowley, Costain, Corkish, Corkill having Norse roots. Many of these names will have had an interesting history and certainly the origins of the name Cavendish is a great introduction to folk etymology. If you'd like to find out more about the origins of Maddrell, Caley and Mylrea then check out Les Quilliam's classic 'The Surnames of the Manx'  which should be available in most local bookshops.

One name which is definitely not of Manx origin (as far as I'm aware) is Gruffalo. However, unknown to most people Gruffalos do speak Manx, and quite a lyrical version of the language too. Luckily, you'll be able to find out more about our Manx speaking Gruffalo, and the brave and adventurous mouse that met him (also a Manx speaker!) when we release the Manx Gaelic version of this classic children's story in September. This wouldn't have been possible without the financial support of Lloyds TSB in the Island who deserve a big thank you for this. Gura mie eu!

Hopefully, we'll bring you more children's classics in Manx over the next few years. I certainly hope that 'yn Gruffalo' will bring a great deal of joy to little Kennaughs, Cavendishs, Cains  the world over but more importantly to any young or, for that matter, not so young, speaker of the language.

For those of you keen to speak Manx like a Gruffalo then there are some classes for beginners starting in September. I'll be running a class in Port st Mary, there will be one at the Isle of Manx College in Douglas and also a class in Ramsey. Let me know if you're interested in learning the language.

Gruffalo? Agh c'red t'eh? - Gruffalo? - But what's a Gruffalo?

Gruffalo? Nagh nhione dhyt eh? - A Gruffalo! Why, don't you know? 

Adrian Cain, Manx Language Development Officer, Manx Heritage Foundation