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Mischievous tailless cat to inspire people to learn Manx!

The author of an unusual new handy pocket-sized book is hoping to use humour to inspire people to learn and use a few simple bits of Manx. Unlike many traditional phrasebooks, Teach Your Cat Manx shows that learning useful expressions doesn’t have to be boring or daunting, and makes picking up a few basics accessible to everyone. Adrian Cain, Manx Language Officer at Culture Vannin says of the book:

“If you're going to teach your (or someone else's) cat a little Manx (and why wouldn't you?), this is the ideal place to start.”

Every phrase is shown in both Manx and English, accompanied by appealing 1950s-style retro illustrations as well as help with the Manx pronunciation. There are over 60 expressions to practise from Mie lhiat nuiddragh? (‘Do you want a cuddle?’) to Vel oo kiart dy liooar? (‘Are you OK?’) to C’red t’ayd? (‘What have you got?’). It’s an excellent and really fun introduction to learning Manx for all ages – and most of the phrases can also be used in non-cat related situations!

Manx is a Gaelic language, closely linked to Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic. UNESCO declared the Manx language extinct in 2009, but it has since seen a resurgence in interest and enthusiasm, with local Isle of Man residents using it on social media and in songs, and reintroducing the language in schools.

“It’s wonderful to see a revival in the language, with more adult learning classes and teaching in schools. As I’ve discovered whilst learning Welsh, it’s so important to start using a language outside the classroom, in order to normalise it. I want to help promote language-learning, especially languages such as Manx and Welsh, as they are of huge cultural and emotional value as well as being important to communities,” says author and illustrator Anne Cakebread.

The book is part of a series designed to help you learn a language while engaging with your favourite furry friend, and was inspired by Anne Cakebread’s bestseller Teach Your Cat Welsh (Y Lolfa, 2018).

“The popularity of the series has been amazing! I was thrilled when Teach Your Cat Welsh was re-printed for the first time – but I’m amazed that it’s been reprinted three more times since! I was very keen to do a Manx version, with a wilful Manx cat as the star,” says Anne.

Summoning up the confidence to use a language you’re learning can be daunting at first, and a number of books are available to help with vocabulary and pronunciation, but the light hearted context and the beautiful illustrations mean that this book is a bit out of the ordinary.

Carolyn Hodges, Head of English Publishing at Y Lolfa, who developed language-teaching materials for Oxford University Press for many years, said: “One of the key factors in motivating someone to start learning and using a new language is to make it enjoyable. Teach Your Cat Manx really brings the language to life and makes it fun.”

The book is intended to help Manx learners, tourists and people who are completely new to Manx.

“It’s about revitalising the languages of the original inhabitants of our islands,” said Anne Cakebread, adding, “There are Welsh, reo Māori, Gaelic, Cornish and Irish versions of the Teach Your Dog book and there is a Welsh version of Teach Your Cat.”