Manx, as a member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic language family, is closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. The language was brought to the Isle of Man as early as the 4th century AD by missionaries and settlers from Ireland. Despite its early arrival to the island, Manx remained largely an oral tradition; it wasn’t until the 17th century that written Manx was established and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer was published. When it came time to establish a writing system, Manx took up an orthography that was essentially used for Early Modern English. As a result, the written language appears quite different from the other Celtic languages it is in fact related to.
Manx was once spoken by the entire population of the Isle of Man, but went into decline in the late 18th century. A weakened economy, provoked by the British Crown’s purchase of the country, encouraged emigration of the Manx-speaking community; the economy was salvaged by an increase in the tourism industry that in turn brought more English speakers to the island. The last native speaker of Manx, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974. However, revitalization efforts have been largely successful in preserving the language and encouraging its use. According to the 2011 census, 1,823 people are able to speak, read, or write the language, although all of these speakers are monolingual Manx speakers. Today, Manx is taught in schools around the island and the lessons are quite popular with children and adults alike. There are a number of Manx-medium pre-school programs and even a primary school which has encouraged the development of Manx-medium curriculum for secondary-school and adult.