August 14, 2017 10:20 am
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Recently we had the pleasure of having Julie Matthews and Chris Sheard in our recording studio to record the Manx language, so that we could play our part in helping to preserve the language, making it available to a wider audience through our uTalk app.

Manx, spoken in the Isle of Man, is one of the Goidelic Celtic branch (most closely related to Scottish Gaelic and Irish); the other living Celtic languages (Cornish, Breton and Welsh) belong to the Brittonic branch. The language was declared dead in 2009 by UNESCO, but has been preserved by a few individuals passionate about resurrecting the language and the history of the island. Two such 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 Head Teacher of Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, the only Manx language primary school in the world, and her partner Chris works with the 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

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, I know it is with this same excellence that Julie achieves this in her professional career as Head Teacher of Bunscoill Ghaelgagh. As seen in this BBC report, you can tell that through its pupils the school has given a second wind to the Manx language, motivating those around them to learn Manx. The pupils actually wrote to the UNESCO to prove that Manx wasn’t a dead language, and contributed to them changing its status from dead 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 co-ordinating 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 software is bespoke!

Julie and Chris were really engaged and passionate about their language, and as such the recording went really well. And it’s through using native speakers like Julie and Chris to record our languages that we are able to ensure accurate pronunciation. We will let you know when Manx will be launched on the uTalk app. Meanwhile you can play your part in helping to preserve endangered languages – just saying a few words is a step towards preserving languages. When you download uTalk you’ll get Starter Words for free in 130+ languages so why not try our endangered languages like Sardinian or Gaelic?


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