Lv 7
Kevin7 asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

Can someone tell me about revival of the Cornish language?

1 Answer

  • Connie
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
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    The Cornish language revival is credited to Henri Jenner, a scholar who was a bard of the Welsh and Breton Gorsedd. He published a book “Handbook of the Cornish Language” in 1904 that formed the basis for the writing and teaching of Cornish. Jenner based teaching system on Unified Cornish (Kernewek Unyes) and used mainly Middle Cornish (the language of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries - which yielded a certain amount of literature for its base), with a standardised spelling and he extended extended the vocabulary by using Breton and Welsh. Robert Morton Nance then advanced the revival of Cornish with his work on spelling and pronunciation. He based his work on the spoken language of the last people to have any knowledge of the language, whereas Jenner’s work was based upon Middle Cornish texts. Robert Morton Nance was born in 1873 in Cardiff of Cornish parents. Nance moved to Cornwall in 1906 and became an authority on the Cornish language. He was also a joint founder of the Old Cornwall Society. He was involved in the first Cornish Gorseth in 1928. Nance published “Cornish for All” in 1929. And in 1938 published his dictionary which is still in use today.

    Cornish Language Board (Kevas an taves Kernewek) was set up in 1967 to promote the language, and they promoted Unified Cornish. After the publication in 1984 of Professor Glanville Price's book The Languages of Britain, which severely criticised Unified Cornish, Celtic scholars and linguists decided to adopt a new version of Cornish devised by Dr Ken George. This system, called Common Cornish (Curnoack Nowedga) was adopted in 1987. It differs from Unified Cornish in using the English-based orthographies of the 17th and 18th centuries, plus differences of vocabulary and grammar. It retained a Middle Cornish base but made the spelling more systematic by applying phonemic orthographic theory, and set out clear rules between pronunciation and spelling.

    In 1995 Nicholas Williams proposed an alternative revision of Unified Cornish known as as Unified Cornish Revised or UCR (Kernowek Unys Amendys). Williams published his English-Cornish Dictionary in this orthography in 2000. UCR too has supporters and detractors. It addressed the shortcomings of Unified Cornish, and modifies the standard spelling in the light of current scholarship, but keeping to the traditional practices of the medieval scribes. It also makes full use of the Late Cornish material unavailable to Nance. (Listen to the news in Cornish)

    The revival of Cornish learning had progressed enough by 1970 for people to actually start speaking the language in everyday situations again, with some bringing up their children using it. By 1980 a confident group of Cornish speakers had emerged who improved their conversational skills by meeting together at Cornish Language Weekends and in pubs. By 1990, the amount of Cornish speakers had swelled to the hundreds, and to the thousands if you include those who knew some conversational aspects. Now in the 21st century, Cornish is used in a wide range of places with more bilingual signs appearing all the time. For example in town welcome signs as below or more recently in shops like ASDA. No exact census has been taken of Cornish speakers. It is also difficult to say an number because it depends on the level of fluency. Estimates put the number of fluent speakers of Cornish at around three or four hundred people. The number grows if you wish to include those who can converse in Cornish, but would not consider themselves fluent. This figure could be put at a couple of thousand. The number grows even more if you wish to include everyone who has learnt some Cornish and would be able to give you some phrases, or understand basic sentences. We are now talking in excess of five thousand, and possibly verging on ten thousand.

    Just launched for the start of 2003, a CD-rom that is designed to teach Cornish to everyone from kids to adults. It was trialled on 180 children at Hayle Community College. It features two voices, male and female, to give you the pronunciation, and takes you through a series of exercises and games on your computer to give you a good start on the language. You are given both text in Kernewek Kemmyn and Unified Cornish Revised. (another language cd)

    Source(s): Dialects Cornish has three main dialects, based on three different periods. The CLC continues the work of those who attempted to save the language in its last days in the 1700s, re-forging the links with the historic language. However, other Cornish users persist with an older medieval revived dialect. The other two forms are Unified Cornish Revived, whose users base their spelling and pronunciation on the Cornish of 1550, and Common Cornish, which claims to replicate the pronunciation of 1500. Common Cornish (Kemmyn), an name invented shortly after its adoption in 1986, also rejects historical spellings of Cornish in favour of a radically new system devised in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, this destroys our links to the historic language. The Cornish Language Board (CLB) and Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek are actively asserting that they speak for all the language community, while vigorously promoting only one section of the language community.
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