Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Some Manx jokes

I saw this today (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/should-isle-of-man-work-permit-holders-be-made-to-speak-english-1-6474791 )and cracked up laughing.
It's not just the idea of Peter Karran (nice guy, but not the most articulate man on the island – and probably even the least articulate in the House of Keys) saying anyone needs to learn English. It's not even the usual mongoloid mutters of support from semi-literates married to their cousins.
Story 1 – a lady, not from here, works as a voluntary literacy tutor on arriving on the island while waiting for job offers to come in. She applies for a government position teaching English as a Foreign Language and gets a written reply saying they want a native English speaker. It's so full of spelling and grammatical errors that for the next year she uses it to teach her Manx born pupils. This gets back to some local teachers, who mention that at least two Manx Education Ministers, even in their careers, have been blacklisted from presenting Speech Day prizes because they had such limited vocabulary that young kids would snigger.
Story 2 – me and same lady in Ramsey Co-op a few years back, chatting in Manx to the late Freddie Cowle – last of the original Manx language teachers and then very close to death. A local bigot behind starts grumbling to his wife on the lines of 'If you can't speak the language...' With a straight face, this lady asks Freddie (in fluent Manx) 'Do you think he knows there's a boat in the morning?'
Freddie doubles up with laughter. From his wife (a personal friend) I happen to know this was the last good laugh he had before he died soon after, because he was still laughing about it when he got home and she asked him what the big joke was.
Story 3 – Me and a carload of Hungarians passing through Randolph Quirk's birthplace, Cronk-y-Voddy. As we go along the straight, the whole carload, in true 'Wayne's World' style, are screaming 'We're not worthy, we're not worthy' at the tops of our voices while trying to bow in homage towards Lambsfell. Luckily there were no other cars around.
Actually, Story 3 is only for English language academics and my European readers in particular. Nobody under the age of 50 on the Isle of Man would understand the joke.
Which is what makes it twice as funny.

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