Gallovidian is the Scots language spoken on the Isle of Man, referred to natively under multiple names such as Galwýs, Vanyis or Cheadlus. The name Galwýs comes from an older form of Galowijs meaning "Galloway-ish", in reference to Galloway, where the language originally comes from. Vanyis is from an older form of Vaninyis (shortened to Vanyis by haplology) which simply means "Manx". Cheadlus refers to the Calf of Mann island where the language is most prominant, named Cheadlu in the language which is from the Manx Gaelic Yn Cholloo, which ultimately stems from Old Norse kalfr "small island which lies by a larger one". The English name "Gallovidian" comes from the adjective used by academics to refer to Galloway, coming from the Latin Gallovidia which in turn is from the Scottish Gaelic i nGall Gaidhealaib "amongst the "Gall Gaidheil". The Gall Gaidheil, meaning "Stranger Gael" originally referred to the mixed Scandinavian and Gaelic population of the area.

Gallovidian is spoken mainly on the Calf of Mann where up until the 20th century enjoyed the status of being the only language there, and in small pockets along the south and west coast of the Isle of Man itself. A small number of speakers can be found in the capital Douglas. However the language is not indigenous to Isle of Man as it was brought there by a migration of Scottish Covenanters from Galloway, in South West Scotland, in the 16th Century. During this period Covenanters were being persecuted in Scotland so some saught refuge on the Isle of Man. When the Scottish refugees arrived on the Isle of Mann they were shown hospitality but the natives weren't willing to let them fully assimilate. Instead the Scots were lead to the Calf of Man, a mostly empty island to the south, where they were allowed to settle.

Genetic Affiliation & Influences[]

The original refugees were speakers of a South West Mid dialect of Middle Scots, an Anglian language spoken throughout the Scottish Lowlands from the 15th to 18th Centuries. As such Gallovidian is closely related to Modern Scots, Doric and Shetlandic. As it was spoken alongside Scottish Gaelic in Galloway, some influence can be seen such as in Th-fronting where the dental fricatives [θ] and [ð] become [t̪] and [d̪]. After the migration out of Scotland, the language experianced prolonged contact with Manx Gaelic. Although the first generation of incomers remained mostly monolingual in South West Mid Scots, their children learned the Manx Gaelic language and in time intermarried with native Manx speakers and it became the norm for all Gallovidian speakers to be proficient in Manx Gaelic. With this prolonged contact, Manx influence is rife and can be seen in many aspects of the language, in the vocabulary with loanwords such as kyé "fog" (from Manx kay), in the phonology with pre-occlusion which inserts epenthetic plosives before sonorants in stressed syllables such as Cheadlu [xeədlu] "Calf of Man" (from Manx Cholloo [xolu]), and in the grammar such as borrowing Manx's comparitive suffix for any foreign loanwords e.g olak "bad" → olakí "worse" (from Manx olk "bad")

Even after being isolated from the rest of the Scots languages some areal features typical of the Central Belt managed to make their way to Gallovidian as any well to do family would send their child to Scottish universities to study when they came of age. There some speakers picked up areal features and when they returned home these features were seen as prestige, owing to the social status of the families rich enough to send their chidren away to study, and so become adopted by the locals. One notable example is the glottalisation of post-vocalic [t] to [ʔ] (which would later be allophonically realised as a voiceless version of the previous vowel e.g wahr /waʔr/ [waå̯r] "water")


Sound changes from Middle Scots[]

This list includes all sound changes which occured between Middle Scots and Gallovidian.


  • MS = Middle Scots
  • G = Gallovidian
  • Th-stopping: As a result of Scottish Gaelic infuence the dental fricatives [θ] [ð] become the dental plosives [t̪] [d̪]:
    • MS bridder [brɪðɛr] "brother" → G briddar [brid̪ar] "brother"
    • MS þrei [θri] "three" → G ttriu [t̪rɵ] "three"
  • Lenition of plosives after sonorants and nasals: p, b, t, d, k, g → f, v, s, z, x, ɣ/{r,l,N}_
    • MS alpeist [alpist] "though, however" → G ealfius [ɛlfɵs] "but, though"
    • MS elbok [ɛlbɔk] "elbow" → elva [elva] "elbow"
    • MS want [want] "want" → G weans [wɛns]  "want"
    • MS erd [ɛrd] "earth" → G erz [erz] "earth"
    • MS bink [bɪŋk] "bench" → G bingch [biŋx] "chair"
    • MS walgin [walgən] "wallet" → G wealghaung [wɛlɣɑŋ] 
  • Loss of word final unvoiced plosives: T→∅/_#
    • MS houp [hʌup] "hope" → G hai [hai]
    • MS stroup [strʌup] "tap" → G sþrai [sθrai] "tap, urethra"
    • MS wantit [wantɪt] "wanted" → G weansi [wɛnsi] "wanted"
    • MS reik [rik] "smoke" → G riu [rɵ] "smoke, steam"
  • Alveolar plosives lenite before sonorants: t d → θ ð/_{r,l}. The dental plosives [t̪] [d̪] are not affected
    • MS dreich [drix] "to rub, to dry" → G ðriuch [ðrɵx] "to wipe, to smudge, to wash"
    • MS trei [tri] "tree" → G þriu [θrɵ] "tree"
  • Dithphongs with /i/ as the final element merge into /iː/: ai, ɪi, →iː
    • MS I [ai] "I, pronoun" → G í- " clitic"
    • MS tym [tɪim] "time" → G tím [tiːm] "time"
  • Loss of back vowels before /w/: u, o, ɔ, ʌ →∅/_w
    • MS ower [ɔwɛr] "over" → G war [war] "over"
  • Glottalisation of post-vocalic /t/ as an areal feature from Scotland: t→ʔ/_#
    • MS meit [mit] "food" → G mit [mɵʔ] "food" (later becoming G miuh [mɵɵ̯̊])
  • Glottal stop become voiceless versions of the previous vowel: Vʔ→V[+voice]V[-voice]
    • MS ettle [ɛtəl] "to mean, to intend, to signify" → G ehaul [ee̯̊ɑl] "to let know, to say, to chat"
  • Stressed back vowels before sonorants become front vowels folowed by schwa: u, o, {ɔ, ʌ} → iə eə ɛə/_{l,r,n}iə eə ɛə
    • Manx cholloo [xolu] "Calf of Man" → G Chealu [xeəlu] (later becoming G Cheadlu [xeədlu])
    • MS burn [bʌrn] "stream" → G beaaran [bɛərən] "stream, river"
    • MS tour [tur] "tower" → G tiar [tiər] "chimney, tower"
  • Front vowel raising pull chain: i ɪ e ɛ a → ɨ i ɪ e ɛ
    • MS sei [si] → G siu [sɨ] (later becoming G siu [sɵ])
    • MS þi [ðɪ] "definitive article" → G ði [ði] "definite article"
    • MS dai [de] "day" → G dy [dɪ] "day"
    • MS ben [bɛn] "within" → G bem [bem] "in, inside"
    • MS han [han] "hand" → G hean [hɛn] "hand"
  • Low back vowels merge into /a/: {ɑ ɔ ʌ} ʌu → a ai
    • MS bau [bɑ] "ball" → G ba [ba]
    • MS sno [snɔ] "snow" → G sna [sna]
    • MS rumple [rʌmpəl] "tail" → G ramfaul [ramfɑl] "penis"
    • MS houk [hʌuk] "to dig" → G hai "to shovel, to penetrate a surface, (vulgar) "to fuck"
  • Unstressed vowels before /r/ merge to /a/: V[+unstressed]r → ar
    • MS houker [hʌukɛr] "digger" → G haikar [haikar] "shovel
  • Lowering of central /ɨ/ to /ɵ/: ɨ → ɵ
    • G siu [sɨ] "see" → G siu [sɵ]
  • Schwa becomes /ɑ/:
    • MS rumple [ [rʌmpəl] "tail" → G ramfaul [ramfɑl] "penis"
  • Word final nasals assimilate with the place of articulation of the previous consonant:
    • MS ben [bɛn] "within" → G bem [bem] "in, inside"
  • Epenthesis of schwa between sonorants and consonants:
    • Manx olk [olk] "bad" → G olak [olək] "bad"