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Cornish ( Standard Written Form: or ) , is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the
Celtic language family The Celtic languages (pronunciation of Celtic, usually , but sometimes ) are a Language family, group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic language, Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European lang ...
. It is a revived language, having become
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the Endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional ext ...
as a living community language in
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
at the end of the 18th century. However, knowledge of Cornish, including speaking ability to a certain extent, continued to be passed on within families and by individuals, and a revival began in the early 20th century. The language has a growing number of second language speakers, and a very small number of families now raise children to speak revived Cornish as a
first language A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period hypothesis, critical period. In some countries, the term ''native ...
. Cornish is currently recognised under the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional language, regional and minority languages in E ...
, and the language is often described as an important part of Cornish identity, culture and heritage. Along with Welsh and Breton, Cornish is descended from the
Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Brittany. It is a form of Insular Celtic ...
language spoken throughout much of
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island and the List of is ...

Great Britain
before the English language came to dominate. For centuries, until it was pushed westwards by English, it was the main language of Cornwall, maintaining close links with its sister language Breton, with which it was
mutually intelligible In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related Variety (linguistics), varieties can readily understand each other without prior familiarity or special effort. It ...
, perhaps even as long as Cornish continued to be spoken as a vernacular. Cornish continued to function as a common community language in parts of Cornwall until the mid 18th century. There is some evidence of knowledge of the language persisting into the 19th century, possibly almost overlapping the beginning of revival efforts. A process to revive the language began in the early 20th century, and in 2010,
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...

UNESCO
announced that its former classification of the language as "extinct" was "no longer accurate." Since the revival of the language, some Cornish textbooks and works of literature have been published, and an increasing number of people are studying the language. Recent developments include Cornish music,
independent film An independent film, independent movie, indie film, or indie movie is a feature film or short film that is film production, produced outside the major film studio system, in addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment c ...
s and children's books. A small number of people in Cornwall have been brought up to be
bilingual Multilingualism is the use of more than one language, either by an individual speaker or by a group of speakers. It is believed that multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world's population. More than half of all E ...
native speakers, and the language is taught in schools and appears on road signs. The first Cornish-language day care opened in 2010.


Classification

Cornish is a Southwestern Brittonic language, a branch of the
Insular Celtic Insular Celtic languages are the group of Celtic languages of Brittany, Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. All surviving Celtic languages are in the Insular group, including Breton, which is spoken on continental Europe in Brittany, ...
section of the
Celtic language family The Celtic languages (pronunciation of Celtic, usually , but sometimes ) are a Language family, group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic language, Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European lang ...
, which is a sub-family of the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English language, Englis ...
language family. Brittonic also includes Welsh, Breton,
Cumbric Cumbric was a variety (linguistics), variety of the Common Brittonic language spoken during the Early Middle Ages in the ''Hen Ogledd'' or "Old North" in what is now the counties of Westmorland, Cumberland and northern Lancashire in Northern E ...
and possibly
Pictish Pictish is the extinct language, extinct Brittonic language spoken by the Picts, the people of eastern and northern Scotland from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. Virtually no direct attestations of Pictish remain, short of a limited num ...
, the last two of which are
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the Endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional ext ...
.
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family) native to the Gaels of Scotland. As a Goid ...
, Irish and Manx are part of the separate Goidelic branch of Insular Celtic. Joseph Loth viewed Cornish and Breton as being two dialects of the same language, claiming that "Middle Cornish is without doubt closer to Breton as a whole than the modern Breton dialect of [] is to that of Saint-Pol-de-Léon []." Also, Kenneth H. Jackson, Kenneth Jackson argued that it is almost certain that Cornish and Breton would have been mutually intelligible as long as Cornish was a living language, and that Cornish and Breton are especially closely related to each other and less closely related to Welsh.


History

Cornish evolved from the
Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as British, Common Brythonic, or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic languages, Celtic language spoken in Great Britain, Britain and Brittany. It is a form of Insular Celtic ...
spoken throughout Britain south of the
Firth of Forth The Firth of Forth () is the estuary, or firth, of several Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. Name ''Firth'' is a cognate of ''fjord'', a Norse word meaning ...

Firth of Forth
during the
British Iron Age The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ire ...
and
Roman period The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman period
. As a result of westward Anglo-Saxon expansion, the Britons of the southwest were separated from those in modern-day
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...

Wales
and
Cumbria Cumbria ( ) is a ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in North West England, bordering Scotland. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local government, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the ...

Cumbria
, which Jackson links to the defeat of the Britons at the Battle of Deorham in about 577. The western dialects eventually evolved into modern Welsh and the now extinct
Cumbric Cumbric was a variety (linguistics), variety of the Common Brittonic language spoken during the Early Middle Ages in the ''Hen Ogledd'' or "Old North" in what is now the counties of Westmorland, Cumberland and northern Lancashire in Northern E ...
, while Southwestern Brittonic developed into Cornish and Breton, the latter as a result of emigration to parts of the continent, known as
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical country and cultural area in the west of modern France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country pri ...

Brittany
over the following centuries.


Old Cornish

The area controlled by the southwestern Britons was progressively reduced by the expansion of
Wessex la, Regnum Occidentalium Saxonum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the West Saxons , common_name = Wessex , image_map = Southern British Isles 9th century.svg , map_caption = S ...

Wessex
over the next few centuries. During the Old Cornish () period (800–1200), the Cornish-speaking area was largely coterminous with modern-day
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
, after the Saxons had taken over
Devon Devon ( , historically known as Devonshire , ) is a ceremonial county, ceremonial and non-metropolitan county, non-metropolitan counties of England, county in South West England. The most populous settlement in Devon is the city of Plymouth, ...

Devon
in their south-westward advance, which probably was facilitated by a second migration wave to Brittany that resulted in the partial depopulation of Devon. The earliest written record of the Cornish language comes from this period: a 9th-century gloss in a
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...

Latin
manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten – as opposed to mechanically printing, printed or repr ...

manuscript
of by
Boethius Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, commonly known as Boethius (; Latin: ''Boetius''; 480 – 524 AD), was a Roman Roman Senate, senator, Roman consul, consul, ''magister officiorum'', historian, and philosopher of the Early Middle Ages. He was ...

Boethius
, which used the words . The phrase may mean "it he mindhated the gloomy places", or alternatively, as Andrew Breeze suggests, "she hated the land". Other sources from this period include the ''Saints' List'', a list of almost fifty Cornish saints, the Bodmin manumissions, which is a list of manumittors and slaves, the latter with mostly Cornish names, and, more substantially, a Latin-Cornish glossary (the or Cottonian Vocabulary), a Cornish translation of
Ælfric of Eynsham Ælfric of Eynsham ( ang, Ælfrīc; la, Alfricus, Elphricus; ) was an England, English abbot and a student of Æthelwold of Winchester, and a consummate, prolific writer in Old English of hagiography, homily, homilies, exegesis, biblical commen ...
's Latin-Old English Glossary, which is thematically arranged into several groups, such as the
Genesis creation narrative The Genesis creation narrative is the creation myth of both Judaism and Christianity. The narrative is made up of two stories, roughly equivalent to the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. In the first, Elohim (the Hebrew generic word f ...
, anatomy, church hierarchy, the family, names for various kinds of artisans and their tools, flora, fauna, and household items. The manuscript was widely thought to be in
Old Welsh Old Welsh ( cy, Hen Gymraeg) is the stage of the Welsh language from about 800 AD until the early 12th century when it developed into Middle Welsh.Koch, p. 1757. The preceding period, from the time Welsh became distinct from Common Brittonic a ...
until the 18th century when it was identified as Cornish by
Edward Lhuyd Edward Lhuyd Royal Society, FRS (; occasionally written Llwyd in line with modern Welsh orthography, 1660 – 30 June 1709) was a Wales, Welsh Natural history, naturalist, Botany, botanist, linguistics, linguist, geographer and antiquary. He is ...

Edward Lhuyd
. Some Brittonic glosses in the 9th-century colloquy were once identified as Old Cornish, but they are more likely Old Welsh, possibly influenced by a Cornish scribe. No single phonological feature distinguishes Cornish from both Welsh and Breton until the beginning of the assibilation of dental stops in Cornish, which is not found before the second half of the eleventh century, and it is not always possible to distinguish Old Cornish, Old Breton, and Old Welsh orthographically.


Middle Cornish

The Cornish language continued to flourish well through the Middle Cornish () period (1200–1600), reaching a peak of about 39,000 speakers in the 13th century, after which the number started to decline. This period provided the bulk of traditional Cornish literature, and was used to reconstruct the language during its revival. Most important is the , a cycle of three mystery plays, , and . Together these provide about 8,734 lines of text. The three plays exhibit a mixture of English and Brittonic influences, and, like other Cornish literature, may have been written at Glasney College near Penryn. From this period also are the
hagiographical A hagiography (; ) is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader, as well as, by extension, an adulatory and idealized biography of a founder, saint, monk, nun or icon in any of the world's religions. Early Christian hagiographies might ...
dramas (''The Life of
Meriasek Saint Meriasek ( br, Meriadeg) was a 6th-century Cornish and Brittany, Breton saint. The legends of his life are known through ''Beunans Meriasek'', a Cornish language play known from a single surviving manuscript copy dated 1504, and a few other ...
'') and (''The Life of Ke''), both of which feature as an antagonist the villainous and tyrannical King Tewdar (or Teudar), a historical medieval king in Armorica and Cornwall, who, in these plays, has been interpreted as a lampoon of either of the kings Henry VII or
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his Wives of Henry VIII, six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) ...
. Others are the ''Charter Fragment'', the earliest known continuous text in the Cornish language, apparently part of a play about a medieval marriage, and (''The Passion of Our Lord''), a poem probably intended for personal worship, were written during this period, probably in the second half of the 14th century. Another important text, the , was realized to be Cornish in 1949, having previously been incorrectly classified as Welsh. It is the longest text in the traditional Cornish language, consisting of around 30,000 words of continuous prose. This text is a late 16th century translation of twelve of Bishop Bonner's thirteen homilies by a certain John Tregear, tentatively identified as a vicar of
St Allen St Allen ( kw, Eglosalan (hamlet), Pluw Alan (parish)) is a civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a terri ...
from
Crowan Crowan ( kw, Egloskrewen (village), Pluw Grewen (parish)) is a village and civil parishes in England, civil parish in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is about three-and-a-half miles (6 km) south of Camborne.Ordnance Survey: Landranger map she ...
, and has an additional catena, Sacrament an Alter, added later by his fellow priest, Thomas Stephyn. In the reign of Henry VIII an was given by Andrew Boorde in his 1542 . He states, "" When Parliament passed the
Act of Uniformity 1549 The Act of Uniformity 1549, was an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of England, passed on 21 January 1549. It was the logical successor of the English Reformation#Royal Injunctions of 1547,2-17-19, Edwardian Inju ...
, which established the 1549 edition of the English Book of Common Prayer as the sole legal form of worship in England, including Cornwall, people in many areas of Cornwall did not speak or understand English. The passing of this Act was one of the causes of the
Prayer Book Rebellion The Prayer Book Rebellion or Western Rising was a popular revolt in Cornwall and Devon in 1549. In that year, the ''Book of Common Prayer (1549), Book of Common Prayer'', presenting the theology of the English Reformation, was introduced. The ...
, with "the commoners of Devonshyre and Cornwall" producing a manifesto demanding a return to the old religious services and included an article that concluded, "and so we the Cornyshe men (whereof certen of us understande no Englysh) utterly refuse thys newe Englysh." In response to their articles, the government spokesman (either Philip Nichols or
Nicholas Udall Nicholas Udall (or Uvedale Udal, Woodall, or other variations) (1504 – 23 December 1556) was an English playwright, cleric, schoolmaster, the author of '' Ralph Roister Doister'', generally regarded as the first comedy Comedy is a genre ...
) wondered why they did not just ask the king for a version of the liturgy in their own language. Archbishop
Thomas Cranmer Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build the case for the annulment of Henry's ...

Thomas Cranmer
asked why the Cornishmen should be offended by holding the service in English, when they had before held it in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
, which even fewer of them could understand. Anthony Fletcher points out that this rebellion was primarily motivated by religious and economic, rather than linguistic, concerns. The Prayer Book Rebellion, which may also have been influenced by the retaliation of the English after the failed Cornish Rebellion of 1497, was ruthlessly suppressed: over 4,000 people who protested against the imposition of an English prayer book were massacred by Edward VI's army. Their leaders were executed and the people suffered numerous reprisals. Through many factors, including loss of life and the spread of English, the Prayer Book Rebellion proved a turning-point for the Cornish language.
Peter Berresford Ellis Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a British historian, biography in literature, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 98 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan. ...

Peter Berresford Ellis
cites the years 1550–1650 as a century of immense damage for the language, and its decline can be traced to this period. In 1680 William Scawen wrote an essay describing 16 reasons for the decline of Cornish, among them the lack of a distinctive Cornish alphabet, the loss of contact between Cornwall and
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical country and cultural area in the west of modern France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country pri ...

Brittany
, the cessation of the miracle plays, loss of records in the Civil War, lack of a Cornish Bible and immigration to Cornwall. Mark Stoyle, however, has argued that the ‘glotticide’ of the Cornish language was mainly a result of the Cornish gentry adopting English to dissociate themselves from the reputation for disloyalty and rebellion associated with the Cornish language since the 1497 uprising.


Late Cornish

By the middle of the 17th century, the language had retreated to
Penwith Penwith (; kw, Pennwydh) is an area of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, located on the peninsula of the same name. It is also the name of a former Non-metropolitan district, local government district, whose council was based in Penzance. ...
and Kerrier, and transmission of the language to new generations had almost entirely ceased. In his ''Survey of Cornwall'', published in 1602, Richard Carew writes:
st of the inhabitants can speak no word of Cornish, but very few are ignorant of the English; and yet some so affect their own, as to a stranger they will not speak it; for if meeting them by chance, you inquire the way, or any such matter, your answer shall be, "," "I illspeak no Saxonage."
The Late Cornish () period from 1600 to about 1800 has a less substantial body of literature than the Middle Cornish period, but the sources are more varied in nature, including songs, poems about fishing and curing
pilchards "Sardine" and "pilchard" are common name In biology, a common name of a taxon or organism (also known as a vernacular name, English name, colloquial name, country name, popular name, or farmer's name) is a name that is based on the nor ...

pilchards
, and various translations of verses from the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. Edward Lhuyd's ''Archaeologia Britannica'', which was mainly recorded in the field from native speakers in the early 1700s, and his unpublished field notebook are seen as important sources of Cornish vocabulary, some of which are not found in any other source. ''Archaeologia Britannica'' also features a complete version of a traditional folk tale, ''John of Chyanhor'', a short story about a man from
St Levan St Levan ( kw, Selevan) is a civil parishes in England, civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The parish is rural with a number of hamlets of varying size with Porthcurno probably being the best known. Hewn out of the cliff at Minac ...
who goes far to the east seeking work, eventually returning home after three years to find that his wife has borne him a child during his absence. In 1776, William Bodinar, who describes himself as having learned Cornish from old fishermen when he was a boy, wrote a letter to
Daines Barrington Daines Barrington, FRS, FSA (1727/2814 March 1800) was an English lawyer, antiquary and naturalist. He was one of the correspondents to whom Gilbert White Gilbert White Royal Society, FRS (18 July 1720 – 26 June 1793) was a "parson-na ...

Daines Barrington
in Cornish, with an English translation, which was probably the last prose written in the traditional language. In his letter, he describes the sociolinguistics of the Cornish language at the time, stating that there are no more than four or five old people in his village who can still speak Cornish, concluding with the remark that Cornish is no longer known by young people. However, the last recorded traditional Cornish literature may have been the '' Cranken Rhyme'', a corrupted version of a verse or song published in the late 19th century by John Hobson Matthews, recorded orally by John Davey (or Davy) of Boswednack, of uncertain date but probably originally composed during the last years of the traditional language. Davey had traditional knowledge of at least some Cornish. John Kelynack (1796–1885), a fisherman of Newlyn, was sought by
philologists Philology () is the study of language in oral and writing, written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is also defin ...
for old Cornish words and technical phrases in the 19th century.


Decline of Cornish speakers between 1300 and 1800

It is difficult to state with certainty when Cornish ceased to be spoken, due to the fact that its last speakers were of relatively low social class and that the definition of what constitutes "a living language" is not clear cut. Peter Pool argues that by 1800 nobody was using Cornish as a daily language and no evidence exists of anyone capable of conversing in the language at that date. The traditional view that
Dolly Pentreath Dorothy Pentreath (16 May 1692 aptised– 26 December 1777) was a fishwife from Mousehole, Cornwall, Kingdom of England, England. She is the best-known of the last fluent speakers of the Cornish language. She is also often credited as the ...
(1692–1777) was the last native speaker of Cornish has been challenged, and in the 18th and 19th centuries there was academic interest in the language and in attempting to find the last speaker of Cornish. It has been suggested that, whereas Pentreath was probably the last ''monolingual'' speaker, the last ''native'' speaker may have been John Davey of Zennor, who died in 1891. However, although it is clear Davey possessed some traditional knowledge in addition to having read books on Cornish, accounts differ of his competence in the language. Some contemporaries stated he was able to converse on certain topics in Cornish whereas others affirmed they had never heard him claim to be able to do so. Robert Morton Nance, who reworked and translated Davey's Cranken Rhyme, remarked, "There can be no doubt, after the evidence of this rhyme, of what there was to lose by neglecting John Davey." The search for the last speaker is hampered by a lack of transcriptions or audio recordings, so that it is impossible to tell from this distance whether the language these people were reported to be speaking was Cornish, or English with a heavy Cornish
substratum In linguistics, a stratum (Latin for "layer") or strate is a language that influences or is influenced by another through language contact, contact. A substratum or substrate is a language that has lower power or prestige than another, while a s ...
, nor what their level of fluency was. Nevertheless this academic interest, along with the beginning of the
Celtic Revival The Celtic Revival (also referred to as the Celtic Twilight) is a variety of movements and trends in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries that see a renewed interest in aspects of Celtic culture. Artists and writers drew on the traditions of Gae ...
in the late 19th century, provided the groundwork for a Cornish language revival movement. Notwithstanding the uncertainty over who was the last speaker of Cornish, researchers have posited the following numbers for the prevalence of the language between 1050 and 1800.


Revived Cornish

In 1904, the Celtic language scholar and Cornish cultural activist
Henry Jenner Henry Jenner (8 August 1848 – 8 May 1934) was a British scholar of the Celtic languages, a Cornwall, Cornish cultural activist, and the chief originator of the Cornish language revival. Jenner was born at St Columb Major on 8 August 1848. H ...
published ''A Handbook of the Cornish Language''. The publication of this book is often considered to be the point at which the revival movement started. Jenner wrote about the Cornish language in 1905, "one may fairly say that most of what there was of it has been preserved, and that it has been continuously preserved, for there has never been a time when there were not some Cornishmen who knew some Cornish." The revival focused on reconstructing and standardising the language, including coining new words for modern concepts, and creating educational material in order to teach Cornish to others. In 1929 Robert Morton Nance published his Unified Cornish () system, based on the Middle Cornish literature while extending the attested vocabulary with neologisms and forms based on Celtic roots also found in Breton and Welsh, publishing a dictionary in 1938. Nance's work became the basis of revived Cornish () for most of the 20th century. During the 1970s, criticism of Nance's system, including the inconsistent orthography and unpredictable correspondence between spelling and pronunciation, as well as on other grounds such as the archaic basis of Unified and a lack of emphasis on the spoken language, resulted in the creation of several rival systems. In the 1980s, Ken George published a new system, ("Common Cornish"), based on a reconstruction of the phonological system of Middle Cornish, but with an approximately morphophonemic orthography. It was subsequently adopted by the Cornish Language Board and was the written form used by a reported 54.5% of all Cornish language users according to a survey in 2008, but was heavily criticised for a variety of reasons by Jon Mills and
Nicholas Williams Nicholas, Neco, Nico or Nick Williams may refer to: Sportsmen * Nick Williams (fullback) (born 1977), American NFL football player, a/k/a Nick Luchey * Nick Williams (rugby union) (born 1983), New Zealand rugby league and rugby union player * Nick ...
, including making phonological distinctions that they state were not made in the traditional language 1500, failing to make distinctions that they believe ''were'' made in the traditional language at this time, and the use of an orthography that deviated too far from the traditional texts and Unified Cornish. Also during this period, Richard Gendall created his Modern Cornish system (also known as "Revived Late Cornish"), which used Late Cornish as a basis, and Nicholas Williams published a revised version of Unified; however neither of these systems gained the popularity of Unified or Kemmyn. The revival entered a period of factionalism and public disputes, with each orthography attempting to push the others aside. By the time that Cornish was recognised by the UK government under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2002, it had become recognised that the existence of multiple orthographies was unsustainable with regards to using the language in education and public life, as none had achieved a wide consensus. A process of unification was set about which resulted in the creation of the public-body
Cornish Language Partnership The Cornish Language Partnership ( kw, Keskowethyans an Taves Kernewek , ) is a representative body that was set up in Cornwall, England, UK in 2005 to promote and develop the use of the Cornish language. It is a public and voluntary sector partn ...
in 2005 and agreement on a Standard Written Form in 2008. In 2010 a new milestone was reached when UNESCO altered its classification of Cornish, stating that its previous label of "extinct" was no longer accurate.


Geographic distribution and number of speakers

Speakers of Cornish reside primarily in
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
, which has a population of 563,600 (2017 estimate). There are also some speakers living outside Cornwall, particularly in the countries of the
Cornish diaspora The Cornish diaspora ( kw, keskar kernewek) consists of Cornish people and their descendants who emigration, emigrated from Cornwall, United Kingdom. The diaspora is found within the United Kingdom, and in countries such as the United States, Can ...
, as well as in other
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area and collection of geographical regions in Northwestern Europe where the Celtic languages and cultural traits have survived. The term ''nation'' is used in its original sense to mean a people who shar ...

Celtic nations
. Estimates of the number of Cornish speakers vary according to the definition of a speaker, and is difficult to determine accurately due to the individualised nature of language take-up. Nevertheless, there is recognition that the number of Cornish speakers is growing. From before the 1980s to the end of the 20th century there was a sixfold increase in the number of speakers to around 300. One figure for the number of people who know a few basic words, such as knowing that "Kernow" means "Cornwall", was 300,000; the same survey gave the number of people able to have simple conversations as 3,000. The Cornish Language Strategy project commissioned research to provide quantitative and qualitative evidence for the number of Cornish speakers: due to the success of the revival project it was estimated that 2,000 people were fluent (surveyed in spring 2008), an increase from the estimated 300 people who spoke Cornish fluently suggested in a study by Kenneth MacKinnon in 2000. Jenefer Lowe of the
Cornish Language Partnership The Cornish Language Partnership ( kw, Keskowethyans an Taves Kernewek , ) is a representative body that was set up in Cornwall, England, UK in 2005 to promote and develop the use of the Cornish language. It is a public and voluntary sector partn ...
said in an interview with the BBC in 2010 that there were around 300 fluent speakers. Bert Biscoe, a councillor and bard, in a statement to the '' Western Morning News'' in 2014 said there were "several hundred fluent speakers".
Cornwall Council Cornwall Council ( kw, Konsel Kernow) is the unitary authority for Cornwall in the United Kingdom, not including the Isles of Scilly, which has its Council of the Isles of Scilly, own unitary council. The council, and its predecessor Cornwall Co ...
estimated in 2015 that there were 300–400 fluent speakers who used the language regularly, with 5,000 people having a basic conversational ability in the language. A report on the 2011 Census published in 2013 by the Office for National Statistics placed the number of speakers at somewhere between 325 and 625. In 2017 the Office for National Statistics, ONS released data based on the 2011 Census that placed the number of speakers at 557 people in England and Wales who declared Cornish to be their main language, 464 of whom lived in Cornwall. A study that appeared in 2018 established the number of people in Cornwall with at least minimal skills in Cornish, such as the use of some words and phrases, to be more than 3,000, including around 500 estimated to be fluent. The Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter is working with the Cornish Language Partnership to study the Cornish language revival of the 20th century, including the growth in number of speakers.


Legal status and recognition

In 2002, Cornish was recognized by the UK government under Part II of the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional language, regional and minority languages in E ...
.
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...

UNESCO
's ''Atlas of World Languages'' classifies Cornish as "critically endangered". UNESCO has said that a previous classification of 'extinct' "does not reflect the current situation for Cornish" and is "no longer accurate"


Within the UK

Cornwall Council Cornwall Council ( kw, Konsel Kernow) is the unitary authority for Cornwall in the United Kingdom, not including the Isles of Scilly, which has its Council of the Isles of Scilly, own unitary council. The council, and its predecessor Cornwall Co ...
's policy is to support the language, in line with the European Charter. A motion was passed in November 2009 in which the council promoted the inclusion of Cornish, as appropriate and where possible, in council publications and on signs. This plan has drawn some criticism. In October 2015,
Cornwall Council Cornwall Council ( kw, Konsel Kernow) is the unitary authority for Cornwall in the United Kingdom, not including the Isles of Scilly, which has its Council of the Isles of Scilly, own unitary council. The council, and its predecessor Cornwall Co ...
announced that staff would be encouraged to use "basic words and phrases" in Cornish when dealing with the public. In 2021 Cornwall Council prohibited a marriage ceremony from being conducted in Cornish as the Marriage Act 1949 only allowed for marriage ceremonies in English or Welsh. In 2014, the Cornish people were recognised by the UK Government as a national minority under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The FCNM provides certain rights and protections to a national minority with regard to their minority language. In 2016, British government funding for the Cornish language ceased, and responsibility transferred to Cornwall Council.


Orthography

Old Cornish Until around the middle of the 11th century, Old Cornish scribes used a traditional spelling system shared with Old Breton and Old Welsh, based on the pronunciation of British Latin. By the time of the Vocabularium Cornicum, usually dated to around 1100, Old English spelling conventions, such as the use of Thorn (letter), thorn (Þ, þ) and eth (Ð, ð) for dental fricatives, and wynn (Ƿ, ƿ) for /w/, had come into use, allowing documents written at this time to be distinguished from Old Welsh, which rarely uses these characters, and Old Breton, which does not use them at all. Old Cornish features include using initial ⟨ch⟩, ⟨c⟩, or ⟨k⟩ for /k/, and, in internal and final position, ⟨p⟩, ⟨t⟩, ⟨c⟩, ⟨b⟩, ⟨d⟩, and ⟨g⟩ are generally used for the phonemes /b/, /d/, /ɡ/, /β/, /ð/, and /ɣ/ respectively, meaning that the results of Brittonic lenition are not usually apparent from the orthography at this time. Middle Cornish Middle Cornish orthography has a significant level of variation, and shows influence from Middle English spelling practices. Yogh (Ȝ ȝ) is used in certain Middle Cornish texts, where it is used to represent a variety of sounds, including the dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/, a usage which is unique to Middle Cornish and is never found in Middle English. Middle Cornish scribes tend to use ⟨c⟩ for /k/ before back vowels, and ⟨k⟩ for /k/ before front vowels, though this is not always true, and this rule is less consistent in certain texts. Middle Cornish scribes almost universally use ⟨wh⟩ to represent /ʍ/ (or /hw/), as in Middle English. Middle Cornish, especially towards the end of this period, tends to use orthographic ⟨g⟩ and ⟨b⟩ in word-final position in stressed monosyllables, and ⟨k⟩ and ⟨p⟩ in word-final position in unstressed final syllables, to represent the reflexes of late Brittonic /ɡ/ and /b/, respectively. Late Cornish Written sources from this period are often spelled following English spelling conventions since many of the writers of the time had not been exposed to Middle Cornish texts or the Cornish orthography within them. Around 1700, Edward Lhuyd visited Cornwall, introducing his own partly phonetic orthography that he used in his , which was adopted by some local writers, leading to the use of some Lhuydian features such as the use of circumflexes to denote long vowels, ⟨k⟩ before front vowels, word-final ⟨i⟩, and the use of ⟨dh⟩ to represent the voiced dental fricative /ð/. Revived Cornish After the publication of Jenner's Handbook of the Cornish Language, the earliest revivalists used Jenner's orthography, which was influenced by Lhuyd's system. This system was abandoned following the development by Nance of a "unified spelling", later known as Unified Cornish, a system based on a standardization of the orthography of the early Middle Cornish texts. Nance's system was used by almost all Revived Cornish speakers and writers until the 1970s. Criticism of Nance's system, particularly the relationship of spelling to sounds and the phonological basis of Unified Cornish, resulted in rival orthographies appearing by the early 1980s, including Gendal's Modern Cornish, based on Late Cornish native writers and Lhuyd, and Ken George's Kernewek Kemmyn, a mainly Morphophonology, morphophonemic orthography based on George's reconstruction of Middle Cornish c. 1500, which features a number of orthographic, and phonological, distinctions not found in Unified Cornish. Kernewek Kemmyn is characterised by the use of universal ⟨k⟩ for /k/ (instead of ⟨c⟩ before back vowels as in Unified); ⟨hw⟩ for /hw/, instead of ⟨wh⟩ as in Unified; and ⟨y⟩, ⟨oe⟩, and ⟨eu⟩ to represent the phonemes /ɪ/, /o/, and /œ/ respectively, which are not found in Unified Cornish. Criticism of all of these systems, especially Kernewek Kemmyn, by Nicolas Williams, resulted in the creation of Unified Cornish Revised, a modified version of Nance's orthography, featuring: an additional phoneme not distinguished by Nance, "ö in German schön", represented in the UCR orthography by ⟨ue⟩; replacement of ⟨y⟩ with ⟨e⟩ in many words; internal ⟨h⟩ rather than ⟨gh⟩; and use of final ⟨b⟩, ⟨g⟩, and ⟨dh⟩ in stressed monosyllables. A Standard Written Form, intended as a compromise orthography for official and educational purposes, was introduced in 2008, although a number of previous orthographic systems remain in use and, in response to the publication of the SWF, another new orthography, Kernowek Standard, was created, mainly by Nicholas Williams and Michael Everson, which is proposed as an amended version of the Standard Written Form.


Phonology

The phonological system of Old Cornish, inherited from Proto-Southwestern Brittonic and originally differing little from Old Breton and Old Welsh, underwent various changes during its Middle and Late phases, eventually resulting in several characteristics not found in the other Brittonic languages. The first sound change to distinguish Cornish from both Breton and Welsh, the assibilation of the dental stops and in medial and final position, had begun by the time of the Vocabularium Cornicum, c. 1100 or earlier. This change, and the subsequent, or perhaps dialectical, Palatalization (sound change), palatalization (or occasional Rhotacism, rhotacization in a few words) of these sounds, results in orthographic forms such as Middle Cornish 'father', Late Cornish (Welsh ), Middle Cornish 'believe', Late Cornish (Welsh ), and Middle Cornish 'leave', Late Cornish (Welsh ). A further characteristic sound change, Pre-stopped consonant, pre-occlusion, occurred during the sixteenth century, resulting in the nasals and being realised as and respectively in stressed syllables, and giving Late Cornish forms such as 'head' (Welsh ) and 'crooked' (Welsh ). As a Language revitalization, revitalised language, the phonology of contemporary spoken Cornish is based on a number of sources, including various Linguistic reconstruction, reconstructions of the sound system of middle and early modern Cornish based on an analysis of internal evidence such as the orthography and rhyme used in the historical texts, Comparative method, comparison with the other Brittonic languages Breton and Welsh, and the work of the linguist
Edward Lhuyd Edward Lhuyd Royal Society, FRS (; occasionally written Llwyd in line with modern Welsh orthography, 1660 – 30 June 1709) was a Wales, Welsh Natural history, naturalist, Botany, botanist, linguistics, linguist, geographer and antiquary. He is ...

Edward Lhuyd
, who visited Cornwall in 1700 and recorded the language in a partly phonetic orthography.


Vocabulary

Cornish is a Celtic language, and the majority of its vocabulary, when usage frequency is taken into account, at every documented stage of its history is inherited direct from Proto-Celtic language, Proto-Celtic, either through the ancestral Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European language, or through vocabulary borrowed from unknown substrate language(s) at some point in the development of the Celtic proto-language from PIE. Examples of the PIE > PCelt. development are various terms related to kinship and people, including 'mother', 'aunt, mother's sister', 'sister', 'son', 'man', 'person, human', and 'people', and words for parts of the body, including ‘hand’ and 'tooth'. Inherited adjectives with an Indo-European etymology include 'new', 'broad, wide', 'red', 'old', 'young', and 'alive, living'. Several Celtic or Brittonic words cannot be reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European, and are suggested to have been borrowed from unknown substrate language(s) at an early stage, such as Proto-Celtic or Proto-Brittonic. Proposed examples in Cornish include 'beer' and 'badger'. Other words in Cornish inherited direct from Proto-Celtic include a number of toponyms, for example 'hill', 'fort', and 'land', and a variety of animal names such as 'mouse', 'Sheep, wether', 'pigs', and 'bull'. During the Roman occupation of Britain a large number (around 800) of Latin loan words entered the vocabulary of Common Brittonic, which subsequently developed in a similar way to the inherited lexicon. These include 'arm' (from British Latin ), 'net' (from ), and 'cheese' (from ). A substantial number of loan words from English and to a lesser extent French entered the Cornish language throughout its history. Whereas only 5% of the vocabulary of the Old Cornish Vocabularium Cornicum is thought to be borrowed from English, and only 10% of the lexicon of the early modern Cornish writer William Rowe, around 42% of the vocabulary of the whole Cornish corpus is estimated to be English loan words, without taking frequency into account. (However when frequency ''is'' taken into account this figure for the entire corpus drops to 8%.) The many English loanwords, some of which were sufficiently well assimilated to acquire native Cornish verbal or plural suffixes or be affected by the mutation system, include 'to read', 'to understand', 'way', 'boot' and 'art'. Many Cornish words, such as mining and fishing terms, are specific to the culture of Cornwall. Examples include 'mine waste' and 'to mend fishing nets'. and are different types of pastries. is a 'traditional Cornish dance get-together' and is a specific kind of ceremonial dance that takes place in Cornwall. Certain Cornish words may have several translation equivalents in English, so for instance may be translated into English as either 'book' or 'volume' and can mean either 'hand' or 'fist'. As in other Celtic languages, Cornish lacks a number of verbs commonly found in other languages, including modals and psych-verbs; examples are 'have', 'like', 'hate', 'prefer', 'must/have to' and 'make/compel to'. These functions are instead fulfilled by Periphrasis, periphrastic constructions involving a verb and various prepositional phrases.


Grammar

The grammar of Cornish shares with other Celtic languages a number of features which, while not unique, are unusual in an Indo-European context. The grammatical features most unfamiliar to English speakers of the language are the initial consonant mutations, the verb–subject–object word order, inflected prepositions, fronting of emphasised syntactic elements and the use of two different forms for "to be".


Morphology


Mutations

Cornish has initial consonant mutation: The first sound of a Cornish word may change according to grammatical context. As in Breton, there are four types of mutation in Cornish (compared with three in Welsh, two in Irish and Manx and one in
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family) native to the Gaels of Scotland. As a Goid ...
). These changes apply to only certain letters (sounds) in particular grammatical contexts, some of which are given below: *Lenition or "soft" mutation: **Feminine singular nouns are lenited after 'the': *** > 'the cat' *Spirantization or "aspirate" mutation: **Nouns are spirantized after 'my': *** 'father' > 'my father' *Provection or "hard" mutation: **Verbs are provected after the verbal particle (approximately English "-ing"): *** 'see' > 'seeing' *Lenition followed by provection (usually), or "mixed" mutation: **Type 1 mixed mutation: ***Occurs after the affirmative particle : **** > 'I see' **Type 2 mixed mutation: ***Occurs after 2nd person singular infixed pronoun : **** 'hand' > 'in thy hand'


Articles

Cornish has no indefinite article (grammar), article. can either mean "harbour" or "a harbour". In certain contexts can be used, with the meaning 'a certain, a particular', e.g. 'a certain harbour'. There is, however, a definite article 'the', which is used for all nouns regardless of their gender or number, e.g. 'the harbour'.


Nouns

Cornish nouns belong to one of two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, but are not inflected for grammatical case, case. Nouns may be singular or plural. Plurals can be formed in various ways, depending on the noun: *Vowel change: ** 'hole' > 'holes' *Addition of a specific plural suffix: ** 'angel' > 'angels' ** 'father' > 'fathers' ** 'peddler' > 'peddlers' *Suppletion: ** 'man' > 'men, people' Some nouns are collective or mass nouns. Singulatives can be formed from collective nouns by the addition of the suffix ⫽-enn⫽ (SWF ''-en''): * 'grass' > 'a blade of grass' * 'willow-trees' > 'a willow tree'


Verbs

Verbs are grammatical conjugation, conjugated for Grammatical person, person, Grammatical number, number, Grammatical tense, tense and Grammatical mood, mood. For example, the verbal noun 'see' has derived forms such as 1st person singular present indicative 'I see', 3rd person plural imperfect indicative 'they saw', and 2nd person singular imperative 'see!' Grammatical categories can be indicated either by inflection of the main verb, or by the use of auxiliary verbs such as 'be' or 'do'.


Prepositions

Cornish uses inflected language, inflected (or grammatical conjugation, conjugated) prepositions: Prepositions are inflected for person and number. For example, (with, by) has derived forms such as 'with me', 'with him', and 'with you (plural)'.


Syntax

Word order in Cornish is somewhat fluid and varies depending on several factors such as the intended element to be emphasised and whether a statement is negative or affirmative. In a study on Cornish word order in the play Bewnans Meriasek (c. 1500), Ken George has argued that the most common word order in main clauses in Middle Cornish was, in affirmative statements, Subject–verb–object, SVO, with the verb in the third person singular: When affirmative statements are in the less common VSO order, they usually begin with an adverb or other element, followed by an affirmative particle, with the verb inflected for person and tense: In negative statements, the order was usually Verb–subject–object, VSO, with an initial negative particle and the verb conjugated for person and tense: A similar structure is used for questions: Elements can be fronted for emphasis: Sentences can also be constructed periphrastically using auxiliary verbs such as 'be, exist': As Cornish lacks verbs such as 'to have', possession can also be indicated in this way: Enquiring about possession is similar, using a different interrogative form of : Nouns usually precede the adjective, unlike in English: Some adjectives usually precede the noun, however:


Culture

The Celtic Congress and Celtic League (political organisation), Celtic League are groups that advocate cooperation amongst the Celtic Nations in order to protect and promote Celtic languages and cultures, thus working in the interests of the Cornish language. There have been films such as , some televised, made entirely, or significantly, in the language. Some businesses use Cornish names. Cornish has significantly and durably affected Cornwall's place-names as well as Cornish surnames and knowledge of the language helps the understanding of these ancient meanings. Cornish names are adopted for children, pets, houses and boats. There is Cornish literature, including spoken poetry and song, as well as traditional Cornish chants historically performed in marketplaces during religious holidays and public festivals and gatherings. There are periodicals solely in the language, such as the monthly , and . BBC Radio Cornwall has a news broadcast in Cornish and sometimes has other programmes and features for learners and enthusiasts. Local newspapers such as the '' Western Morning News'' have articles in Cornish and newspapers such as ''The Packet'', ''The West Briton'' and ''The Cornishman'' have also been known to have Cornish features. There is an online radio service in Cornish called , publishing a one-hour podcast each week, based on a magazine format. It includes music in Cornish as well as interviews and features. The language has financial sponsorship from sources including the Millennium Commission. A number of language organisations exist in Cornwall: (Our Language), the Cornish sub-group of the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages, , (the Cornish Language Board) and (the Cornish Language Fellowship). There are ceremonies, some ancient, some modern, that use the language or are entirely in the language.


Cultural events

Though estimates of the number of Cornish speakers vary, there are thought to be around five hundred today. Currently Cornish is spoken at home, outside the home, in the workplace and at ritual ceremonies. Cornish is also being used in the arts. Cornwall has had cultural events associated with the language, including the international Celtic Media Festival, hosted in St Ives, Cornwall, St Ives in 1997. The Old Cornwall Society has promoted the use of the language at events and meetings. Two examples of ceremonies that are performed in both the English and Cornish languages are Crying the Neck and the annual mid-summer bonfires. Since 1969, there have been three full performances of the Ordinalia, originally written in the Cornish language, the most recent of which took place at the plen-an-gwary in St Just in Penwith, St Just in September 2021. While significantly adapted from the original, as well as using mostly English-speaking actors, the plays used sizable amounts of Cornish, including a character who spoke only in Cornish and another who spoke both English and Cornish. The event drew thousands over two weeks, also serving as a celebration of Celts (modern), Celtic culture. The next production, scheduled for 2024, could, in theory, be entirely in Cornish, without English, if assisted by a professional linguist.


Study and teaching

Cornish is taught in some schools; it was previously taught at degree level at the University of Wales, though the only existing course in the language at University level is as part of a course in Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter. In March 2008 a course in the language was started as part of the Celtic Studies curriculum at the University of Vienna, Austria. The University of Cambridge offers courses in Cornish through its John Trim Resources Centre, which is part of its Language Centre. In addition the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (which is part of the faculty of English) also carries out research into the Cornish language. In 2015 a university-level course aiming at encouraging and supporting practitioners working with young children to introduce the Cornish language into their settings was launched. The ''Cornish Language Practice Project (Early Years)'' is a Qualifications and Credit Framework, level 4 course approved by Plymouth University and run at Cornwall College. The course is not a Cornish-language course but students will be assessed on their ability to use the Cornish language constructively in their work with young children. The course will cover such topics as ''Understanding Bilingualism'', ''Creating Resources'' and ''Integrating Language and Play'', but the focus of the language provision will be on Cornish. A non-accredited specialist Cornish-language course has been developed to run alongside the level 4 course for those who prefer tutor support to learn the language or develop their skills for use with young children. Cornwall's first Cornish-language day care, crèche, , was established in 2010 at Cornwall College, Camborne. The nursery teaches children aged between two and five years alongside their parents to ensure the language is also spoken in the home. A number of dictionaries are available in the various orthographies, including ''A Learners' Cornish Dictionary in the Standard Written Form'' by Steve Harris (ed.), by Ken George, by Nicholas Williams and ''A Practical Dictionary of Modern Cornish'' by Richard Gendall. Course books include the three-part series, , and , as well as the more recent and . Several online dictionaries are now available, including one organised by An Akademi Kernewek in SWF. Classes and conversation groups for adults are available at several locations in Cornwall as well as in London, Cardiff and Bristol. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic a number of conversation groups entitled have been held online, advertised through Facebook and other media. A surge in interest, not just from people in Cornwall but from all over the world, has meant that extra classes have been organised.


Cornish studies

William Scawen produced a manuscript on the declining Cornish language that continually evolved until he died in 1689, aged 89. He was one of the first to realise the language was dying out and wrote detailed manuscripts which he started working on when he was 78. The only version that was ever published was a short first draft but the final version, which he worked on until his death, is a few hundred pages long. At the same time a group of scholars led by John Keigwin (nephew of William Scawen) of Mousehole tried to preserve and further the Cornish language and chose to write in Cornish. One of their number, Nicholas Boson, tells how he had been discouraged from using Cornish to servants by his mother. This group left behind a large number of translations of parts of the Bible, proverbs and songs. They were contacted by the Welsh linguist
Edward Lhuyd Edward Lhuyd Royal Society, FRS (; occasionally written Llwyd in line with modern Welsh orthography, 1660 – 30 June 1709) was a Wales, Welsh Natural history, naturalist, Botany, botanist, linguistics, linguist, geographer and antiquary. He is ...

Edward Lhuyd
, who came to Cornwall to study the language. Early Modern Cornish was the subject of a study published by Lhuyd in 1707, and differs from the medieval language in having a considerably simpler structure and grammar. Such differences included sound changes and more frequent use of auxiliary verbs. The medieval language also possessed two additional tenses for expressing past events and an extended set of possessive suffixes. John Whitaker (historian), John Whitaker, the Manchester-born rector of Ruan Lanihorne, studied the decline of the Cornish language. In his 1804 work ''the Ancient Cathedral of Cornwall'' he concluded that: "[T]he English Liturgy, was not desired by the Cornish, but forced upon them by the tyranny of England, at a time when the English language was yet unknown in Cornwall. This act of tyranny was at once gross barbarity to the Cornish people, and a death blow to the Cornish language." Robert Williams published the first comprehensive Cornish dictionary in 1865, the . As a result of the discovery of additional ancient Cornish manuscripts, 2000 new words were added to the vocabulary by Whitley Stokes (scholar), Whitley Stokes in ''A Cornish Glossary''. William C. Borlase published ''Proverbs and Rhymes in Cornish'' in 1866 while ''A Glossary of Cornish Names'' was produced by John Bannister in the same year. Fred W. P. Jago, Frederick Jago published his ''English–Cornish Dictionary'' in 1882. In 2002 the Cornish language gained new recognition because of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. Conversely, along with government provision was the governmental basis of "New Public Management", measuring quantifiable results as means of determining effectiveness. This put enormous pressure on finding a single orthography that could be used in unison. The revival of Cornish required extensive rebuilding. The Cornish orthographies that were reconstructed may be considered versions of Cornish because they are not traditional sociolinguistic variations. In the middle-to-late twentieth century, the debate over Cornish orthographies angered more people because several language groups received public funding. This caused other groups to sense favouritism as playing a role in the debate. A governmental policymaking structure called New Public Management (NPM) has helped the Cornish language by managing public life of the Cornish language and people. In 2007, the Cornish Language Partnership, Cornish Language Partnership MAGA represents separate divisions of government and their purpose is to further enhance the Cornish Language Developmental Plan. MAGA established an Ad-Hoc Group, which resulted in three orthographies being presented. The relations for the Ad-Hoc Group were to obtain consensus among the three orthographies and then develop a "single written form". The result was creating a new form of Cornish, which had to be natural for both new learners and skilled speakers.


Literature


Recent Modern Cornish literature

In 1981, the Brittany, Breton library edited (Passion of our lord), a 15th-century Cornish poem. The first complete Bible translations into Cornish, translation of the Bible into Cornish, translated from English, was published in 2011. Another Bible translation project translating from original languages is underway. The New Testament and Psalms were posted on-line on YouVersion (Bible.com) and Bibles.org in July 2014 by the Bible Society. A few small publishers produce books in Cornish which are stocked in some local bookshops, as well as in Cornish branches of Waterstones and WH Smith, although publications are becoming increasingly available on the Internet. Printed copies of these may also be found from Amazon. The Truro Waterstones hosts the annual "" literary awards, established by to recognise publications relating to Cornwall or in the Cornish language. In recent years, a number of Cornish translations of literature have been published, including ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (2009), ''Around the World in Eighty Days'' (2009), ''Treasure Island'' (2010), ''The Railway Children'' (2012), ''Hound of the Baskervilles'' (2012), ''The War of the Worlds'' (2012), ''The Wind in the Willows'' (2013), ''Three Men in a Boat'' (2013), ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass'' (2014), and ''A Christmas Carol'' (which won the 2012 award for Cornish Language books), as well as original Cornish literature such as ' (''The Lyonesse Stone'') by Craig Weatherhill. Literature aimed at children is also available, such as (''Where's Spot the Dog, Spot?''), (''The Beast of Bodmin Moor''), three ''Topsy and Tim'' titles, two ''The Adventures of Tintin, Tintin'' titles and (''Briallen and the Alien''), which won the 2015 award for Cornish Language books for children. In 2014 ,
Nicholas Williams Nicholas, Neco, Nico or Nick Williams may refer to: Sportsmen * Nick Williams (fullback) (born 1977), American NFL football player, a/k/a Nick Luchey * Nick Williams (rugby union) (born 1983), New Zealand rugby league and rugby union player * Nick ...
' translation of J. R. R. Tolkien's ''The Hobbit'' was published. is a monthly magazine published entirely in the Cornish language. Members contribute articles on various subjects. The magazine is produced by Graham Sandercock who has been its editor since 1976.


Media

In 1983 BBC Radio Cornwall started broadcasting around two minutes of Cornish every week. In 1987, however, they gave over 15 minutes of airtime on Sunday mornings for a programme called ("Holdall"), presented by John King, running until the early 1990s. It was eventually replaced with a five-minute news bulletin called ("The News"). The bulletin was presented every Sunday evening for many years by Rod Lyon, then Elizabeth Stewart, and currently a team presents in rotation. Pirate FM ran short bulletins on Saturday lunchtimes from 1998 to 1999. In 2006, Matthew Clarke who had presented the Pirate FM bulletin, launched a web-streamed news bulletin called ("Weekly News"), which in 2008 was merged into a new weekly magazine podcast (RanG). Cornish television shows have included a 1982 series by Westward Television with each episode containing a three-minute lesson in Cornish. , an eight-episode series produced by Television South West and broadcast between June and July 1984, later on S4C from May to July 1985, and as a schools programme in 1986. Also by Television South West were two bilingual programmes on Cornish Culture called . In 2016 Kelly's Ice Cream of Bodmin introduced a light hearted television commercial in the Cornish language and this was repeated in 2017. The first episode from the third season of the US television program Deadwood (TV series), Deadwood features a conversation between miners, purportedly in the Cornish language, but they are actually speaking Irish. One of the miners is then shot by thugs working for businessman George Hearst and justifies the murder by saying, "He come at me with his foreign gibberish." A number of Cornish Language films have also been made. Amongst others, this includes ''Hwerow Hweg'', a 2002 drama film written and directed by Hungarian film-maker Antal Kovacs and ''Trengellick Rising'', a short film written and directed by Guy Potter. Screen Cornwall works with Cornwall Council to commission a short film in the Cornish Language each year, with their FilmK competition. Their website states "FylmK is an annual contemporary Cornish language short film competition, producing an imaginative and engaging film, in any genre, from distinctive and exciting filmmakers".


Music

English composer Peter Warlock wrote a Christmas carol in Cornish (setting words by Henry Jenner). The Cornish electronic musician Aphex Twin has used Cornish names for track titles, most notably on his ''Drukqs, DrukQs'' album. Several traditional Cornish folk songs have been collected and can be sung to various tunes. These include "An Awhesyth", "Bro Goth agan Tasow", and "Delkiow Sivy". In 2018, the singer Gwenno Saunders released an album in Cornish, entitled , saying: "I speak Cornish with my son: if you're comfortable expressing yourself in a language, you want to share it."


Place-names and surnames

The Cornish language features in the toponymy of Cornwall, with a significant contrast between English place-names prevalent in eastern Cornwall and Cornish place-names to the west of the Camel-Fowey river valleys, where English place-names are much less common. Hundreds of Cornish family names have an etymology in the Cornish language, the majority of which are derived from Cornish place-names. Long before the agreement of the Standard Written Form, Standard Written Form of Cornish in the 21st century, Late Cornish orthography in the Early Modern period usually followed Welsh to English transliteration, phonetically rendering C for K, I for Y, U for W, and Z for S. This meant that place names were adopted into English with spellings such as ‘Porthcurno’ and ‘Penzance’; they are written and in the Standard Written Form of Cornish, agreed upon in 2008. Likewise words such as (‘island’) can be found spelled as ‘’ as at Ince Castle. These apparent mistransliterations can, however, reveal an insight into how names and places were actually pronounced, explaining, for example, how anglicised is still pronounced [ˈlansǝn] with emphasis on the first element, perhaps from Cornish , though the ''Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names'' considers this unlikely. The following tables present some examples of Cornish place names and surnames and their anglicised versions:


Samples

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: From , the Cornish anthem:


See also

* Anglo-Cornish, the Cornish dialect of the English language * Bible translations into Cornish * Cornish literature * List of Celtic-language media * Languages in the United Kingdom * List of topics related to Cornwall * Language revival * The Cornish Language Council () * Manx, another Celtic language subject to revival efforts *
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional language, regional and minority languages in E ...
* Gaelic revival, Irish language revival * Breton language


References


Bibliography

* Bruch, Benjamin; Bock, Albert (2008) ''An Outline of the Standard Written Form of Cornish''. Cornish Language Partnership * Hodge, Pol (2001) ''Cornish Names''. Truro: Dyllansow Fentenwynn ISBN 1 902917 23 5 * Fred W. P. Jago, Jago, F. W. P., ''A Cornish Dictionary'' (1887
English Cornish dictionary
* Jenner, Henry, iarchive:handbookofcornis00jennuoft, A handbook of the Cornish language : chiefly in its latest stages with some account of its history and literature (1904)]

* Ellis, Peter B. (1971) ''The Story of the Cornish Language''. 32 p. Truro: Tor Mark Press * Peter Berresford Ellis, Ellis, Peter B. (1974) ''The Cornish Language and its Literature''. ix, 230 p. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul * Everson, Michael (2007) ''A Proposed Standard Written Form of Cornish''. Cornish Language Partnership Process * Ferdinand, Siarl (2013). Brief History of the Cornish language, its Revival and its Current Situation. ''E-Keltoi'', Vol. 2, 2 Dec pp. 199–22

* Jackson, Kenneth (1953) ''Language and History in Early Britain: a chronological survey of the Brittonic languages, first to twelfth century a.D.'' Edinburgh: U. P. 2nd ed. Dublin : Four Courts Press, 1994 has a new introduction by William Gillies * Norris, Edwin
Sketch of Cornish grammar (1859)
* Sandercock, Graham (1996) ''A Very Brief History of the Cornish Language''. Hayle: * Stokes, Whitley, iarchive:cu31924026878334, = The Creation of the world : a Cornish mystery (1863) * Weatherhill, Craig (1995) ''Cornish Place Names & Language''. Wilmslow: Sigma Press (reissued in 1998, 2000 ; second revised edition 2007 ) * Weatherhill, Craig (2009) ''Concise Dictionary of Cornish Place-names ''; edited by Michael Everson. Westport, Co. Mayo: Evertype * Williams, G. P
The preverbal particle Re in Cornish (1908)


External links



A Project Gutenberg eBook
Cornish Language Partnership website

Endangered Languages Project: Cornish

A Cornish Internet radio station in nascent state featuring weekly podcasts in Cornish

Spellyans – Standard Written Form Cornish discussion list

UdnFormScrefys' site for the proposed compromise orthography, Kernowek Standard



– A Taste of Cornish
– basic Cornish lessons hosted by BBC Cornwall
Cornish Language Fellowship


Portions of the Book of Common Prayer in Cornish
Cornish today
by Kenneth MacKinnon – from the BBC
Bibel Kernewek
Cornish Bible Translation Project
An Index to the Historical Place Names of Cornwall

A review of the Cornish revival

Cornish language Sayings and Phrases


Dictionaries


Gerlyver kernewek (Cornish dictionary)

An English-Cornish Glossary in the Standard Written Form
Cornish Language Partnership The Cornish Language Partnership ( kw, Keskowethyans an Taves Kernewek , ) is a representative body that was set up in Cornwall, England, UK in 2005 to promote and develop the use of the Cornish language. It is a public and voluntary sector partn ...

'': a Dictionary of the Ancient Celtic Language of Cornwall''
by Robert Williams, Llandovery, 1865. {{Authority control Cornish language, Languages attested from the 9th century Languages extinct in the 18th century Southwestern Brittonic languages Cornish language revival, * Languages of England Languages of the United Kingdom Cornish nationalism Endangered Celtic languages Verb–subject–object languages Language revival