Manx Language Stuff

Manx Numerals

In many languages, maybe even most, counting is a fairly straightforward thing. So is putting a noun after a number—you just put the noun in the plural and you're done with it. Manx is much more complicated.

The information below comes from Practical Manx by Jennifer Kewley Draskau and First Lessons in Manx by Edmund Goodwin (revised by Robert Thomson).

Here are the cardinal numbers with the pronunciations coming from various sources:

  1. 'nane /ne:n/—is used for counting. The full form unnane is sometimes found. Before nouns the form is un /æ:n/, /o:n/, /u:n/.
  2. jees /dʒi:s/—is used for counting. If a noun follows, use daa. On the other hand, jees can be used to refer to two persons. The form ghaa /ɣæ:/ is also found.
  3. tree /tri:/—is also found as three. The form troor (trooar) also exists and is used for persons. As I vaguely remember, something like jees and troor exist in Polish and perhaps other Slavic languages; that is, special numbers for persons. Anyway...
  4. kiare /k'e:ə/
  5. queig /kweg/
  6. shey /ʃe:/
  7. shiaght /ʃa:x/
  8. hoght /hɑ:x/
  9. nuy /ni:/
  10. jeih /dʒei/
  11. nane-jeig
  12. daa-yeig—for some reason Kewley Draskau has ghaa-yeig here.
  13. t(h)ree-jeig
  14. kiare-jeig
  15. queig-jeig
  16. shey-jeig
  17. shiaght-jeig
  18. hoght-jeig
  19. nuy-jeig
  20. feed /fi:dʒ/
  21. un as feed /u:n.../
  22. daa as feed /de:.../
  23. t(h)ree as feed...

Manx is a base-20 system like French. 'Twenty-one' is 'nane as feed, 'twenty-two' is daa as feed, and 'thirty-one' is 'nane-jeig as feed. ('Thirty' is jeih as feed.) This system is used up to fifty-nine.

'Forty' is two twenties—daeed (=daa feed). 'Sixty' is tree feed. 'Eighty' is kiare feed. 'One hundred' is keead.

Kewley Draskau says that from sixty until ninety-nine the word order is changed. The twenties are put first: kiare feed as jees is 'eighty-two'. This is a distinction that Goodwin doesn't make. For him, eighty-two would presumably be jees as kiare feed.

And now the fun begins. If you use a noun, the noun usually gets wedged in between the first chunk of number and all the rest. So 'fifty three boats' is tree baatyn jeig as daeed. Do not separate the noun incorrectly and get the wrong number: tree baatyn as feed 'twenty-three boats' but tree feed baatey 'sixty boats'.

Un and daa cause lenition. After un, nouns are lenited except for nouns beginning with dentals (t-, d-, çh-, and j-): un vac, but un dooinney. After daa, everything is lenited: daa vac, daa ghooinney.

As can be seen by the examples above, the singular is used if daa, feed, daeed, tree feed, kiare feed, keead, or thousane precedes the nouns.


1st yn chied
2nd yn nah
3rd yn trass
4th yn chiarroo
5th yn wheiggoo
6th yn çheyoo
7th yn çhiaghtoo
8th yn hoghtoo
9th yn nuyoo
10th yn jeihoo

All ordinals cause lenition. After chied, nouns beginning with a dental are not lenited. Note that only the first element of a compound ordinal is in the ordinal form: yn chied jeig as feed 'thirty-first'.

Note also the use of keayrt 'a time, turn': un cheayrt 'once', daa cheayrt 'twice', tree keayrtyn 'thrice', etc...

Manx Irregular Verbs [Because I can never remember these...]

Verbal NounPresent TenseFuture Tense1, 2Past TenseConditional1ImperativePast Participle
ve /vi/, /ve/ 'be'ta3 /ta/, /te/vel /vel/, nel /nel/4bee'm or beeym /bim/
bee'm or beeym
va6 /va/row7 /rau/veign /vi:ən/
beign /bi:dn/, ?/bi:ən/
beagh /bi:(ə)x/
bee (singular)
bee-jee (plural)8
(er) ve
jannoo /'dŽʒinu/, /'dŽʒenu/ 'do, make'ta mee jannoo, etc...vel or nel mee jannoo, etc...nee'm or neeym /nŽi:m/
nee /nŽi:/
jeanym /'dŽʒenəm/
jean /dŽʒin/, /dŽʒen/
/'dŽʒinməd/, /'dŽʒenməd/5
ren /renŽ/ren

1. Only future and conditional conjugate.
2. Ve has special future relative forms: vee'm, vees, vees, veesmayd, vees, vees. Its use is described in Wheeler.
3. With the subject pronoun: ta mee, t'ou, t'eh, t'ee, ta shin, ta shiu, t'ad.
4. Either nel or vel can be used after cha. After nagh, dy, and interogatives, only vel is used.
5. It's unclear to me whether the d in the -mayd suffix is palatalized or not. Some of the last speakers (in Broderick) seem to have palatalized the d. Some did not. In the Irish equivalent muid, the d would be palatalized.
6. With the subject pronoun: va mee, v'ou, v'eh, v'ee, va shin, va shiu, v'ad.
7. With the subject pronoun: row mee, r'ou (but often row uss), row eh, row ee, row shin, row shiu, row ad.
8. A hyphen is sometimes used between the jee and the root. Sometimes jee is added directly to the stem. The forms with (-)jee tend to be Biblical. Today the (-)jee is replaced with shiu or -shiu: bee shiu, bee-shiu.
9. There is a special form te (from t'eh) which is found.

Manx Pronunciation