Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 15:38 UK

Manx Gaelic 'not extinct' says UN

Manx museum
The Manx language has about 600 active speakers

THE global cultural body UNESCO has agreed to change its classification of the Manx Gaelic language as "extinct" following protests from the island.

In the 2009 edition of the organisation's Atlas of World Languages in Danger, Manx was listed as effectively dead.

Chief Minister Tony Brown wrote to UNESCO claiming the language was still flourishing on the island.

The classification will now be changed to 'critically endangered'.

Government minister Phil Gawne, who is a fluent Manx speaker, added that as well as Mr Brown's letter there were many others sent by Manx speakers.

'Important boost'

Several letters were sent from children who attend the Bunscoill (Manx language school) in St Johns.

The children asked: "If our language is extinct then what language are we writing in?"

Mr Gawne added: "I am particularly pleased that the example of the tremendous change in fortunes of our Manx language has forced UNESCO to rethink its classifications.

"This is an important boost for the world's thousands of minority languages as the rejuvenation of the Manx language demonstrates clearly that decline to extinction is not inevitable."

Unesco's online digital tool lists about 2,500 endangered languages around the world, but can be corrected and updated through contributions from its users.

The Manx language was thought to have died out in the mid-19th Century but there are now believed to be about 600 active speakers.

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