The Standard Written Form or SWF (Cornish: Furv Skrifys Savonek) of the Cornish language is an orthography standard that is designed to "provide public bodies and the educational system with a universally acceptable, inclusive, and neutral orthography".[1] It was the outcome of a process initiated by the creation of the public body Cornish Language Partnership, which identified a need to agree on a single standard orthography in order to end previous orthographical disagreements, secure government funding, and increase the use of Cornish in Cornwall.

The new form was agreed in May 2008 after two years of negotiations, and was influenced by all the previous orthographies. The negotiating teams comprised members of all the main Cornish language groups, Kesva an Taves Kernewek, Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek, Agan Tavas and Cussel an Tavas Kernuak, and received input from experts and academics from Europe and the United States. The agreement meant that Cornish became officially accepted and funded, with support from the UK government and the European Union.[2]

In June 2009, the Gorsedh Kernow voted overwhelmingly to adopt the Standard Written Form.[3]

In 2013 the SWF was reviewed in a process intended to identify problems and issues with the orthography. A small number of changes were made to the SWF, which made the orthography easier for learners and went some way to reducing the spelling difference between dialects.[citation needed]


The Standard Written Form recognises Revived Middle Cornish (RMC), Tudor Cornish (TC) and Revived Late Cornish (RLC) as variants of equal standing on which it bases its system. The original 2008 Specification states that "[t]he orthography as a whole leans toward a Middle Cornish base, since in many cases the correct RLC or TC pronunciation can be deduced from an RMC form, but not vice versa".[1]


Unstressed vowels are always short. Stressed vowels in monosyllables are long when followed by a single consonant or by nothing, e.g. gwag RMC [gwaːg], RLC [gwæːg] "empty", lo RMC [lɔː], RLC [loː] "spoon", and short when followed by a double consonant or a consonant cluster, e.g. ass RMC [as], RLC [æs] "how"; hons RMC [hɔns], RLC [hɔnz] "yonder". Exceptions are that long vowels precede st, e.g. lost RMC & RLC [lɔːst] "tail", and also sk and sp in RMC, e.g. Pask [paːsk] "Easter". Stressed vowels in polysyllables are short except in the case of conservative RMC speakers, who may pronounce vowels long before single consonants and st (and, for some, sk and sp), e.g. gwagen RMC [gwa(ː)gɛn], RLC [gwægɐn] "a blank".

^1 When unstressed and word final

^2 Before a, l, o, r and u

See also