Cornish (Kernowek) is a revived language that became extinct as a first language in the late 18th century. It is a Southwestern Brittonic Celtic language that was native to Cornwall in south-west England. A revival began in the early 20th century. Some have expressed the opinion that the language is an important part of Cornish identity, culture and heritage. Cornish is currently a recognised minority language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It has a growing number of second language speakers. A few parents are inspired to create new first language speakers, by teaching their children the language from birth.
Along with Welsh and Breton, Cornish is descended directly from the Common Brittonic language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate. It was the main language of Cornwall for centuries until it was pushed westwards by English, maintaining close links with its sister language Breton, with which it was mutually intelligible until well into the Middle Ages. Cornish continued to function as a common community language in parts of Cornwall until the late 18th century and continued to be spoken in the home by some families into the 19th century.
A process to revive the language was begun in the early 20th century, with a number of orthographical systems still in use, although an attempt was made to impose a Standard Written Form in 2008. In 2010, 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 films and children's books, and the language is taught in schools. The first Cornish language crèche opened in 2010.
|Native to||United Kingdom|
|Revival||20th century. L2 users: 557 (2011)|
|Standard Written Form|
|Regulated by||Cornish Language Partnership|
Cornish is one of the Brittonic languages, which constitute a branch of the Insular Celtic section of the Celtic language family. Brittonic also includes Welsh, Breton and the Cumbric language; the last is extinct. Scottish Gaelic, 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 Quiberon [Kiberen] is to that of Saint-Pol-de-Léon [Kastell-Paol]."
Cornish evolved from the Common Brittonic spoken throughout Britain south of the Firth of Forth during the British Iron Age and Roman period. As a result of westward Anglo-Saxon expansion, the Britons of the southwest were separated from those in modern-day Wales and Cumbria. Some scholars have proposed that this split took place after the Battle of Deorham in about 577. The western dialects eventually evolved into modern Welsh and the now extinct Cumbric, while Southwestern Brittonic developed into Cornish and Breton, the latter as a result of emigration to parts of the continent, known as Brittany over the following centuries.
The area controlled by the southwestern Britons was progressively reduced by the expansion of Wessex over the next few centuries. During the Old Cornish period (800–1200), the Cornish-speaking area was largely coterminous with modern-day Cornwall; the region of Devon was isolated by Wessex in 936 AD and many inhabitants fled to Cornwall or Brittany. The earliest written record of the Cornish language comes from this period; a 9th-century gloss in a Latin manuscript of De Consolatione Philosophiae by Boethius, which used the words ud rocashaas. The phrase means "it [the mind] hated the gloomy places". A much more substantial survival from Old Cornish is a Cornish-Latin glossary (the Vocabularium Cornicum or Cottonian Vocabulary) containing translations of around 300 words. The manuscript was widely thought to be in Old Welsh until the 1700s when it was identified as Cornish. At this time there was still little difference between Welsh and Cornish, and even fewer differences between Cornish and Breton, with some scholars arguing that the terms "Old Cornish" and "Old Breton" are merely geographical terms for the same language.
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, which was used to reconstruct the language during its revival. Most important is the Ordinalia, a cycle of three mystery plays, Origo Mundi, Passio Christi and Resurrexio Domini. Together these provide about 20,000 lines of text. Various plays were written by the canons of Glasney College, intended to educate the Cornish people about the Bible and the Celtic saints. From this period also is Beunans Meriasek and the recently discovered Bewnans Ke.
In the reign of Henry VIII, an account was given by Andrew Boorde in his 1542 Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge. He states, "In Cornwall is two speches, the one is naughty Englysshe, and the other is Cornysshe speche. And there be many men and women the which cannot speake one worde of Englysshe, but all Cornyshe."
When Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity 1549, people in many areas of Cornwall did not speak or understand English. The intention of the Act was to replace worship in Latin with worship in English, which was known by the lawmakers not to be universally spoken throughout England. Instead of merely banning Latin, the Act was framed so as to enforce English. The Prayer Book Rebellion, which may also have been influenced by the retaliation of the English after the failed Cornish Rebellion of 1497, broke out, and 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.
The rebels' document claimed they wanted a return to the old religious services and ended, "We the Cornishmen (whereof certain of us understand no English) utterly refuse this new English [altered spelling]." Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, replied to the Cornishmen, inquiring as to why they should be offended by services in English when they had them in Latin, which they also did not understand.
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 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, the cessation of the miracle plays, loss of records in the Civil War, lack of a Cornish bible, and immigration to Cornwall.
By the middle of the 17th century, the language had retreated to Penwith 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:
[M]ost 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, "Meea navidna caw zasawzneck," "I [will] speak no Saxonage."
The Late Cornish period from 1578 to about 1800 has fewer sources of information on the language but they are more varied in nature. Written sources from this period are often spelled following English spelling conventions since the majority of writers of the time had had no exposure to Middle Cornish texts or the Cornish orthography within them, although after 1700 some writers began to adopt the orthography used by Edward Lhuyd in his Archaeologia Brittanica, for example using the circumflex to denote long vowels. In 1776, William Bodinar, who had learnt Cornish from fishermen, wrote a letter in Cornish which was probably the last prose in the language. However, the last verse was the Cranken Rhyme, written in the late 19th century by John Davey of Boswednack.
The last native speakers of Cornish are thought to have died by the end of the 18th century.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was academic interest in the language and in attempting to find the last speaker of Cornish. This academic interest, along with the beginning of the Celtic Revival in the late 19th century, provided the groundwork for a Cornish language revival movement.
|Year||Area where Cornish was spoken (in km²)||Total population of Cornwall||Number of Cornish speakers|
In 1904, the Celtic language scholar and Cornish cultural activist Henry Jenner 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.
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 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. However, as the revival grew in strength and focus shifted from written to spoken Cornish, Nance's stiff, archaic formulation of the language seemed less suitable for a spoken revival, and academic research into the traditional literature proved that the Unified system lacked some phonological distinctions.
In the 1980s, in response to dissatisfaction with Unified Cornish, Ken George published a new system, Kernewek Kemmyn ("Common Cornish"). Like Unified Cornish, it retained a Middle Cornish base but implemented an orthography that aspired to be as phonemic as possible. It was subsequently adopted by the Cornish Language Board as well as by many Cornish speakers, but came under fierce criticism by academic linguists for its phonological base, as well as those who found its orthography too different from traditional Cornish spelling conventions. 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 in 2005 and agreement on a Standard Written Form in 2008. In 2010 UNESCO altered its classification of Cornish, stating that its previous label of "extinct" was no longer accurate. This was seen by Cornish speakers as a milestone, turning the language from a state of undergoing revival, to having been revived.
Speakers of Cornish reside primarily in 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, as well as other Celtic nations. Estimates of the number of Cornish speakers vary according to the definition of being a speaker, and is difficult to accurately determine 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 increased in the number of speakers to around 300. One figure for the mean number of people who know a few basic words, such as knowing that "Kernow" means "Cornwall", was 300,000; the same survey gave the figure of people able to have simple conversations at 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 said in an interview with the BBC in 2010 that there were around 300 fluent speakers. Cornwall Council 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 from 325 to 625 speakers. In 2017 the ONS released a freedom of information request based on the 2011 Census which placed the number of speakers at 557 people in England and Wales declared Cornish to be their main language, 464 of whom lived in Cornwall.
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.
Cornish has no official status anywhere but, since 2002, it has been recognised as a minority language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Cornish Language Partnership promotes and develops the language in Cornwall.
Cornwall Council'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 announced that staff would be encouraged to use "basic words and phrases" in Cornish when dealing with the public. 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.
UNESCO's Atlas of World Languages classifies Cornish as "critically endangered". UNESCO has said that a previous classification of "extinct", which came under fierce criticism from Cornish speakers, "does not reflect the current situation for Cornish".
In 2016, British government funding for the Cornish language ceased, and responsibility transferred to Cornwall council.
The phonology of modern Cornish is based on a number of sources. The work of the linguist Edward Lhuyd who visited Cornwall in 1700 to record the language, as well as the modern Cornish dialect and accent of English, which got much of its intonation and sounds from the Cornish language, have provided a major source of input. Analysis of the traditional literature has also been used, as the Middle Cornish plays were often written in rhyming verse, and Late Cornish texts were written phonetically following English spelling conventions.
|Stop||p b||t d||tʃ dʒ||k ɡ|
|Fricative||f v||θ ð||s z||ʃ ʒ||x||h|
|Rhotic||ɾ ~ ɹ|
|Close||ɪ ʏ||iː yː||ɨ ʉ||ʊ||uː|
|Mid||ɛ œ||eː øː||ə||ɤ~ɔ||oː|
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". Cornish nouns belong to one of two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine, but are not inflected for case. Cornish has a variety of different endings to indicate the plural, and some nouns have a third collective form. Verbs are conjugated for tense and mood, which can be indicated either by inflection of the main verb, or by the use of auxiliary verbs. In Cornish vocabulary, a large number of the lexical items are language and culture specific. Examples of these include the Cornish word atal, which means "mine waste" and the word beetia, which means "to mend fishing nets". Foogan and hogan are different types of pastry cakes. Troyl is culture specific when referring to "a traditional Cornish dance get-together", while Furry is a specific kind of ceremonial dance that takes place in Cornwall.
In contrast, Cornish translates the English noun, "book", as lyver (= Welsh llyfr), but lyver can actually be translated into English as "book" or "volume" because it can be considered one in a set of books.
As in other Celtic languages, Cornish lacks a number of verbs that are commonly found in other languages. This includes modals and psych-verbs; examples "have", "like", "hate", "prefer", "must"/"have to", "make"/"compel to". These functions are instead fulfilled by periphrastic constructions involving a verb and various prepositional phrases.
|1 Before unrounded vowels (i, y, e, a), l, and r + unrounded vowel.|
2 Before rounded vowels (o, u), and r + rounded vowel.
The Celtic Congress and 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.
Cornish has significantly and durably affected Cornwall's place-names, as well as in 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, in which poetry is the most important genre, particularly in oral form or as song or 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 An Gannas, An Gowsva, and An Garrick. 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 Radyo an Gernewegva, 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: Agan Tavas (Our Language), the Cornish sub-group of the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages, Gorsedh Kernow, Kesva an Taves Kernewek (the Cornish Language Board) and Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek (the Cornish Language Fellowship)]. There are ceremonies, some ancient, some modern, which use the language or are entirely in the language.
Though estimations of the number of Cornish speakers vary, the speakers of Cornish today are thought to be around five hundred. Currently, Cornish is spoken by its speakers at home, outside the home, in the workplace, and at ritual ceremonies. Cornish is also being used in the arts. Revived Cornish is constructed on historical Cornish, so that the Cornish language develops. English language has had some effect in this development. Regardless of having "no concrete purpose during the twentieth century," the number of Cornish speakers has gradually increased.
The Celtic Congress and 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. Cornish has significantly and durably affected Cornwall's place-names, as well as in 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 are periodicals solely in the language such as the monthly An Gannas, An Gowsva, and An Garrick. 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. The language has financial sponsorship from sources, including the Millennium Commission. A number of language organisations exist in Cornwall: Agan Tavas (Our Language), the Cornish sub-group of the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages, Gorsedh Kernow, Kesva an Taves Kernewek (the Cornish Language Board) and Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek (the Cornish Language Fellowship).
Cornwall has had cultural events associated with the language, including the international Celtic Media Festival, hosted in 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.
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 (which is part of the faculty of English), also carries out research into the Cornish language.
In 2015 a university level course aiming to encourage and support practitioners working with young children to introduce the Cornish language into their settings was launched. The Cornish Language Practice Project (Early Years) is a 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 further for use with young children.
Cornwall's first Cornish language crèche, Skol dy'Sadorn Kernewek, 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 different orthographies (a dictionary in the Standard Written Form has yet to be published), including An Gerlyver Meur by Ken George, Gerlyver Kernowek–Sawsnek by Nicholas Williams and A Practical Dictionary of Modern Cornish by Richard Gendall. Course books include the three-part Skeul an Yeth series, Clappya Kernowek, Tavas a Ragadazow and Skeul an Tavas, as well as the more recent Bora Brav and Desky Kernowek.
William Scawen produced a manuscript on the declining Cornish language that continually evolved until he died in 1689, aged 89. He was the first person 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. They left behind a large number of translations of parts of the Bible, proverbs and songs. This group was contacted by the Welsh linguist 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 the wide use of certain modal affixes that, although out of use by Lhuyd's time, had a considerable effect on the word-order of medieval Cornish. The medieval language also possessed two additional tenses for expressing past events and an extended set of possessive suffixes.
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 Lexicon Cornu-Britannicum. As a result of the discovery of additional ancient Cornish manuscripts, 2000 new words were added to the vocabulary by 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. 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 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 end result was creating a new form of Cornish, which had to be natural for both new learners and skilled speakers.
In 1981, the Breton library Preder edited Passyon agan arluth (Passion of our lord), a 15th-century Cornish poem. The first complete 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 Smiths, although newer publications are becoming increasingly available on the Internet. The Truro Waterstones hosts the annual "Holyer an Gof" literary awards, established by Gorsedh Kernow 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 in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (2014), and A Christmas Carol (which won the 2012 Holyer an Gof award for Cornish Language books), as well as original Cornish literature such as Jowal Lethesow (The Lyonesse Stone) by Craig Weatherhill. Literature aimed at children is also available, such as Ple'ma Spot? (Where's Spot?), Best Goon Brèn (The Beast of Bodmin Moor), three Topsy and Tim titles, two Tintin titles and Briallen ha'n Alyon (Briallen and the Alien), which won the 2015 Holyer an Gof award for Cornish Language books for children. In 2014 An Hobys, Nicholas Williams' translation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was published.
An Gannas 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.
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 Kroeder Kroghen ("Holdall"), presented by John King, running until the early 1990s. It was eventually replaced with a five-minute news bulletin called An Nowodhow ("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 Nowodhow an Seythen ("Weekly News"), which in 2008 was merged into a new weekly magazine podcast Radyo an Gernewegva (RanG).
Cornish television shows have included a 1982 series by Westward Television each episode containing a three-minute lesson in Cornish. An Canker-Seth, 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 Nosweyth Lowen In 2016 Kelly's Ice Cream of Bodmin introduced a light hearted television commercial in the Cornish language and this has been repeated in 2017.
English composer Peter Warlock wrote a Christmas carol in Cornish (setting words by Henry Jenner). Cornish musician Jory Bennett has composed "Six Songs of Cornwall" for bass and piano, a Cornish song-cycle, settings of Cornish language poems by Nicholas Williams /trans. E. G. Retallack Hooper (f.p. Keele University, 7 May 1986). The Cornish electronic musician Aphex Twin has used Cornish names for track titles, most notably on his DrukQs album.
The Cornish language has influenced the toponomy of Cornwall, and has historically been used in surnames for the Cornish people. Long before the agreement of the Standard Written Form of Cornish in the 21st century, Late Cornish orthography in the Early Modern period usually followed Welsh to English transliteration so phonetically rendering C for K, I for Y, U for W, and Z for S, caused place-names such as Porthcurno and Penzance to be adopted into English instead of their Standard Written Form Porth Kernow and Pen Sans. Likewise, words such as Enys ("island") can be found spelled as "Ince" as at Ince Castle. These apparent mistranslations can however reveal an insight into how names and places were actually pronounced, explaining, for example, how anglicised Launceston is still pronounced "Lann-zan" from Cornish "Lann Stefan" (though with emphasis on the first element, the result of accent shift in English, and a consonant change s > z which again would have occurred in English in this alternative English form of the name).
The following tables present some examples of Cornish place-names and surnames, and their anglicised versions:
From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
|Genys frank ha par yw oll tus an bys||All human beings are born free and|
|yn aga dynita hag yn aga gwiryow.||equal in dignity and rights. They are|
|Enduys yns gans reson ha kowses||endowed with reason and conscience|
|hag y tal dhedha omdhon an eyl orth||and should act towards one another|
|y gila yn spyrys a vrederedh.||in a spirit of brotherhood.|
From Bro Goth agan Tasow, the Cornish anthem:
|Bro goth agan tasow, dha fleghes a'th kar,||Old land of our fathers, your children love you,|
|Gwlas ker an howlsedhes, pan vro yw dha bar?||Dear country of the west, what land is your equal?|
|War oll an norvys 'th on ni skollys a-les,||Over all the world, we are spread far and wide,|
|Mes agan kerensa yw dhis.||But our love is for you.|
|Kernow, Kernow y keryn Kernow;||Cornwall, Cornwall, we love Cornwall;|
|An mor hedre vo yn fos dhis a-dro||For as long as the sea is a wall around you|
|Th on onan hag oll rag Kernow!||We are one and all for Cornwall!|
"Alba" (English: ) is the Scottish Gaelic name (pronounced [ˈal̪ˠapə]) for Scotland. It is cognate with the Irish term Alba (gen. Albann, dat. Albainn) and the Manx term Nalbin, the two other Goidelic Insular Celtic languages, as well as contemporary words used in Cornish (Alban) and Welsh (Yr Alban), both of which are Brythonic Insular Celtic languages. (The third surviving Brythonic language, Breton, instead uses Bro-Skos, meaning 'country of the Scots'.) In the past these terms were names for Great Britain as a whole, related to the Brythonic name Albion.Cornish Language Partnership
The Cornish Language Partnership (Cornish: Keskowethyans an Taves Kernewek [kɛskɔˈwɛθjans an ˈtavɛs kɛrˈnɛwɛk], [kɛskɔˈwɛθjɐnz ɐn ˈtævɐzs kərˈnuːɐk]) 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 partnership and consists of representatives from various Cornish language societies, Cornish cultural and economic organisations and local government in Cornwall. The organisation is part-funded by the European Union's Objective One programme, the United Kingdom government's Department for Communities and Local Government and Cornwall Council.The Partnership is the chief regulator of the Standard Written Form of Cornish, an orthography that was published in 2008 with the intention of uniting the previous conflicting orthographies, and for use on road signs, in official documents, and in school examinations.Cornish literature
Cornish literature refers to written works in the Cornish language. The earliest surviving texts are in verse and date from the 14th century. There are virtually none from the 18th and 19th centuries but writing in revived forms of Cornish began in the early 20th century.Cornish surnames
Cornish surnames are surnames used by Cornish people and often derived from the Cornish language such as Jago, Trelawney or Enys. Others have strong roots in the region and many in the UK with names such as Eddy, Stark or Rowe are likely to have Cornish origins. Such surnames for the common people emerged in the Middle Ages, although the nobility probably had surnames much earlier on. Not until the later Middle Ages did it become necessary for a common man to have a surname. Most surnames were fully established throughout Cornwall by the end of the 15th century. Today Cornish surnames can be found throughout the world as part of the Cornish diaspora.
Due to the linguistic similarity of Cornish, Welsh and Breton, some surnames can derive from any of the three regions.Helford River
The Helford River (Cornish: Dowr Mahonyer) is a ria (flooded river valley) in Cornwall, England, fed by small streams into its many creeks. There are seven creeks on the Helford; from west to east these are Ponsontuel Creek, Mawgan Creek, Polpenwith Creek, Polwheveral Creek, Frenchman's Creek, Port Navas Creek, and Gillan Creek. The best known of these is Frenchman's Creek, made famous by Daphne du Maurier in her novel of the same name. A little further up river is Tremayne Quay, built for a visit by Queen Victoria in the 1840s which she then declined to make, allegedly because it was raining.Hundreds of Cornwall
The hundreds of Cornwall (Cornish: Keverangow Kernow) were administrative divisions (hundreds) into which Cornwall, the present day administrative county of England, in the United Kingdom, was divided between c. 925 and 1894, when they were replaced with local government districts
Some of the names of the hundreds ended with the suffix shire as in Pydarshire, East and West Wivelshire and Powdershire which were first recorded as names between 1184 and 1187. In the Cornish language the word keverang (pl. keverangow) is the equivalent for English "hundred" and the Welsh cantref. The word, in its plural form, appears in place names like Meankeverango (i.e. stone of the hundreds) in 1580 (now The Enys, north of Prussia Cove and marking the southern end of the boundary between the hundreds of Penwith and Kerrier), and Assa Govranckowe 1580, Kyver Ankou c. 1720, also on the Penwith – Kerrier border near Scorrier. It is also found in the singular form at Buscaverran, just south of Crowan churchtown and also on the Penwith-Kerrier border. The hundred of Trigg is mentioned by name during the 7th century, as "Pagus Tricurius", "land of three war hosts".Newlyn
Newlyn (Cornish: Lulyn: Lu 'fleet', Lynn/Lydn 'pool') is a seaside town and fishing port in south-west Cornwall, UK.Newlyn lies on the shore of Mount's Bay and forms a small conurbation with the neighbouring town of Penzance. It is part of the Penzance civil parish. The principal industry is fishing, although there are also a wide variety of yachts and pleasure boats, in the harbour, as Newlyn is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination, with many pubs and restaurants. Although the parish is now listed under Penzance there is an electoral ward in separate existence called Newlyn and Mousehole. The population as of the 2011 census was 4,432.Par River, Cornwall
The Par River (Cornish: Dowr Gwernan, meaning alder tree river), also known as the Luxulyan River is a river draining the area north of St Blazey in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom.Pont Pill
Pont Pill (Cornish: Pyll Por' Reun, meaning creek of seal cove), joins the River Fowey at Penleath Point just below the memorial to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch at the north-east corner of Fowey harbour. Pont Pill is a tidal river and is only navigable at high water.
Unspoiled by development, Pont Pill is popular with bird watchers, walkers, sailors and sport fishermen. The best way to see Pont Pill is by small boat at high water when it is possible to reach the bridge a mile-and-a-half upriver at Pont (Old Cornish: Pont Pyll, meaning bridge of the creek) the end of the navigable water.
Walkers can see Pont Pill from hills that surround the river by following a section of the South West Coast Path between Bodinnick and Fowey.Port Navas Creek
Port Navas Creek (Cornish: Pol Chi Elow, meaning creek of the house of elm trees), or Porthnavas Creek, is one of seven creeks off the Helford River in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It splits into three sections with the village of Porth Navas on the west, Trenarth Bridge in the middle and the eastern one is near Budock Veane. The creek is well known for the oyster beds.River Allen, Cornwall
The River Allen (Cornish: Dowr Lehen, meaning slate river) in north Cornwall is one of two rivers of the same name in Cornwall which share this name. In this case the name is the result of a mistake made in 1888 by Ordnance Survey, replacing the name Layne with Allen which is the old name for the lower reaches of the Camel. The other River Allen runs through Truro.
The River Allen is a major tributary of the River Camel. It springs northeast of Camelford and flows south-southwest through the Allen Valley passing St Teath and St Kew Highway to join the Camel near Sladesbridge.River Inny, Cornwall
The River Inny (Cornish: Dowr Enni) is a small river in east Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is a tributary of the River Tamar and is about twenty miles (32 km) long from its source near Davidstow on the eastern flank of Bodmin Moor to its confluence with the Tamar at Inny Foot near Dunterton.The River Inny's catchment is 108 square kilometres. Penpont Water is the main tributary and joins the Inny at Two Bridges.The course of the River Inny is initially east-southeast. From Two Bridges it runs southeast before running due east for the last few miles to its confluence with the Tamar.
The River Inny supports trout, sea trout and salmon populations. Other wildlife species include the otter, kingfisher, sand martin, dipper, curlew and snipe.River Looe
The River Looe (Cornish: Logh, meaning deep water inlet) is a river in south-east Cornwall, which flows into the English Channel at Looe. It has two main branches, the East Looe River and the West Looe River. The eastern branch has its source near St Cleer only 0.31 miles (0.5 km) away from the Golitha Falls on the River Fowey, and flows south, passing close to the western outskirts of Liskeard. The western branch has its source near Dobwalls.South of Liskeard, the Looe Valley Line railway follows the course of the East Looe River to Looe. The railway is so close to the river that flooding is a common occurrence.The lowest stretch of the rivers combine to form the tidal harbour and estuary of Looe. The combined length of the two rivers (including the tidal confluence) is 30.48 miles (49.05 km).The river is tidal to Watergate on the West Looe and Sandplace on the East Looe. After Sandplace, the river was connected to the Liskeard and Looe Union Canal so that minerals and stone could be transported from the workings and quarries above Liskeard to the harbour at Looe. The tidal estuarine section is an example of a Ria (a drowned river valley) and at low tide, the rivers almost dry up to a very small natural level.River Lynher
The River Lynher (Cornish: Linar) (or St Germans River downstream from its confluence with the Tiddy) flows through east Cornwall, England, and enters the River Tamar at the Hamoaze, which in turn flows into Plymouth Sound.River Menalhyl
The River Menalhyl (Cornish: Dowr Melynheyl, meaning river of the estuary mill) is a river in Cornwall, England, that flows through the civil parishes of St Columb Major and Mawgan-in-Pydar. Its length is about 12 miles and it flows in a generally north-west direction. The name comes from the Cornish words melyn meaning mill and heyl meaning estuary - estuary mills. The name was recorded as Mellynheyl in the 19th century, but it had been known as Glyvion.River Ottery
The River Ottery (Cornish: Otri) is a small river in northeast Cornwall, United Kingdom. The river is about twenty miles (32 km) long from its source southeast of Otterham to its confluence with the River Tamar at Nether Bridge, two miles (3.2 km) northeast of Launceston.The headwaters of the River Ottery are within the civil parish of Otterham but formerly came under the parish of Forrabury and Minster. In 1311, the rector of that parish wrote: "..the river Ottery takes its rise in this parish and flows to Canworthy Water and so by Yeolmbridge to the river Tamar."River Tiddy
The River Tiddy (Cornish: Teudhi) is a small river in south-east Cornwall, the main tributary of the River Lynher. The Tiddy rises near Pensilva and flows south east past the village of Tideford until it joins the Lynher just after passing St Germans. The name of Tideford derives from its location on the river, literally meaning "Ford on the River Tiddy".
St Germans is a historic fishing village situated on the Tiddy just upstream of its confluence with the Lynher. The Quay Sailing Club are based at St Germans Quay. The Tiddy and Lynher rivers are alternatively called St Germans River downstream of St Germans.River Valency
The River Valency (Cornish: Dowr an Velinji) is a short river in north Cornwall, England, UK, with many small tributaries. After running past Lesnewth it cuts a valley before entering the sea at the harbour of the village of Boscastle. One of its tributaries is the Jordan, which runs 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north before joining the Valency in Boscastle just before the B3263 road bridge.
The Valency valley is steep-sided and the sides of the lower section are wooded. The valley has been flooded many times, most seriously in the Boscastle flood of 2004 when significant channel erosion occurred. (Heavy rainfall for 7 hours over a wide area in the afternoon of 16 August 2004 led to severe flooding and structural damage.) The agricultural use and fast drainage within the catchment areas of the Valency and Jordan are related to the extent of the Boscastle flooding.Torpoint
Torpoint (Cornish: Penntorr) is a civil parish and town on the Rame Peninsula in southeast Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated opposite the city of Plymouth across the Hamoaze which is the tidal estuary of the River Tamar.
Torpoint had a population of 8,457 at the 2001 census, decreasing to 8,364 at the 2011 census. Two electoral wards also exist (Torpoint East and West). Their combined populations at the same census were 7,717. In the Cornish language Torpoint is called Penntorr (local folk band Pentorr have taken their name from this).
Torpoint is linked to Plymouth (and Devonport) by the Torpoint Ferry. The three vessels that operate the service are chain ferries – that is, they are propelled across the river by pulling themselves on fixed chains which lie across the bed of the river. The journey takes about seven minutes.