Isle of Man News - POSTED Wed 13-10-2010

Manx language mistaken for Polish

by John Gregory

Manx language mistaken for Polish

THE Strand Shopping Centre in Douglas has been promoting Manx language and culture but it seems not all its customers are familiar with it.


Shoppers have been canvassed about non-smoking signs written in Manx and a number of people thought they were in Polish.


However the signs are just part of the centre's work in promoting everything Manx.


Centre manager John Shakespeare said: "Our main goal is to make the centre more reflective of the Island's Manx identity and we have tried to do this by incorporating the three legs into our new logo that was launched in August.


"We also recognise important Manx dates like Tynwald Day by displaying Manx flags and of course we are about to feature Hop-Tu-Naa where there will be a Halloween feeling within the centre for that weekend.


"We have also been working closely with Adrian Cain who is the Manx language officer at the Manx Heritage Foundation to look at ways of promoting the Manx language throughout the centre.


"We are used to seeing the Manx language on road signs and on the buses but seeing Manx in unusual places hopefully makes a lasting impression.


"Just to see if our loyal shoppers knew what language the signs were in I took the opportunity to canvas a few and ask them what they thought and a number of them thought the signs were in Polish.


"The first signs we have put at the entrances are No Smoking which in Manx is Jaaghey Meelowit.


"So please - jaaghey meelowit in the Strand Shopping Centre."


Mr Cain is delighted Manx is being used in the centre.


He said: "John is an enthusiastic supporter of all things Manx and was keen to promote the language.


"It's always good to see the language being used in innovative and exciting ways - not only does it get people thinking but it also demonstrates that the language can be used in a wide variety of contexts.

"It's great to see this excellent usage of signage, as a couple of recent developments have been a little disappointing on that front.


"People will be aware that the Isle of Man Creamery in their recent re-branding exercise dropped bainney from their cartons.


"This was obviously frustrating from our point of view, not least because of all the publicity material we have with their previous logo on it!


"Co-incidentally, in a recent Observer advertisement it was good to see that the Welsh language was used in some promotional material: there's no reason why Manx can't be used in a similar way here.


"It is also very disappointing to report a reduction in the amount of Manx on the Island's buses.


"Previously the language had a very prominent position on Bus Vannin but as a consequence of a number of complaints Manx usage has been downplayed and is now very much secondary to the English.


"It is still good to see the language being used in their timetables etc but given the previous cutting edge usage of Manx on the buses this loss is very disappointing; this is particularly the case given that the buses operate under the Department of Culture and Community.


"I suppose I was hoping for a more pro-active usage of the language from the department.


"I'm fairly certain that tourists in Ireland and Wales aren't too disoriented by the use of Irish and Welsh on buses whilst I feel we need to be a little more robust in our support for cultural identity in the Island."


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