Behind the Scenes – Manx Recording

We recently had the pleasure of having Julie Matthews and Chris Sheard in our recording studio to record the Manx language. We’re hoping to play our part in supporting the language, making it available to a wider audience through our uTalk app.

What is Manx?

Manx, which is spoken on the Isle of Man, is a Celtic language from the Goidelic branch, making it most closely related to Scottish Gaelic and Irish. The other living Celtic languages – Cornish, Breton, and Welsh – belong to the Brittonic branch.

In 2009, Manx was declared dead by UNESCO but has been preserved by people passionate about both resurrecting the language, and the history of the island. Two of the people who have made it their mission to do this are Julie and Chris.

As Manx language lovers, they play an active and important part in the revival of the language. Julie is the headteacher of Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, the only Manx medium primary school in the world. Her partner, Chris, works with Manx National Heritage – the national heritage organisation for the Isle of Man.

Both Chris and Julie have made this mission their absolute priority in life. They are passionate about Celtic folklore and travel several times a year to attend Celtic festivals around the world.

Chris and Julie - Manx
Chris and Julie

Recording Manx

The recording day kicked off with the pair being introduced to the uTalk team before entering the studio to record the content for our app.

I was able to sit in on those sessions and it was really interesting to see two people so passionate about and actively involved in helping to keep their language alive. It was obvious that they loved the Manx language and wanted to ensure that potential language learners loved it too. Their precision and attention to detail was admirable; they never hesitated to record their words or phrases several times if necessary to ensure the pronunciation was nothing short of perfect.

And Julie uses these same skills in her professional career as headteacher of Bunscoill Ghaelgagh. The school has, via its pupils, helped give a second wind to the Manx language (as seen in this BBC report) because it’s not just the pupils who are learning – they motivate others around them to learn, too!

The pupils actually wrote to UNESCO to prove Manx wasn’t an extinct language, contributing to the change in the language’s status from extinct to endangered.

Over the two recording days, Julie and Chris, along with Nat – our Language Producer – have worked our in-house recording studio like a well-oiled machine.

After years of recording languages, Nat seems to have perfected the language recording process. She’s in charge of coordinating the words that appear on the screens inside and outside the recording booth, while the recording artist sits inside the recording booth speaking the words into the microphone (just like how a singer records a song recording). To get our recordings perfect, we developed in-house recording software which operates with an iPad prompter screen – we have a paperless recording studio and the software is bespoke!

Since Julie and Chris were really engaged and passionate about their language (as so many of our voice artists and translators are!), the recording went really well. And it’s through using native speakers like Julie and Chris to record our languages that we’re able to ensure accurate pronunciation.

Manx is available now on the uTalk app, so you can download it and learn your free starter words today. We also chose Manx as the competition language for our 2020/2021 round of the uTalk Language Games; find out more about the 800+ students learning Manx here.

Aigh vie! Good luck with your Manx journey!

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