Cornish


"The three main groups that have driven forward the revival of Cornish are at loggerheads. At a conference in September they will try to agree on how Cornish--or, depending on your fancy, Kernewek, Kernowek, Kernuak or Curnoack--should be written. Until a single system is agreed, it will be difficult to launch a credible language programme across Cornwall. Disputes over issues such as road signs and place names will also continue to slow the spread of the language...

"The revival of Cornish gathered pace in the 1920s when a version that came to be known as Unified Cornish was reconstructed using language found in medieval miracle plays and borrowing from related Celtic tongues such as Welsh and Breton. Forty years ago the Cornish Language Board was formed. Some members felt Unified Cornish was inaccurate and came up with a new system, with different spellings, Common Cornish. In the mid-1980s another splinter group set up the Cornish Language Council and championed a third system, Modern Cornish, based not on medieval manuscripts but on the way the language was spoken in the 1700s.

"The factions understand each other when they speak Cornish, but do not seem to comprehend why rival groups insist that their spelling system is correct...

"It is difficult to judge which group is best placed to survive, as nobody agrees on how many people use each version. It is thought that several hundred people speak Cornish reasonably fluently and a few thousand have some knowledge of it. Two secondary schools and a handful of primary schools have begun to teach Cornish" (Steven Morris. "Faction fighting spells trouble for Cornish revival." Guardian Weekly, Aug.4, 2005: 13).


Colby Glass, MLIS