A P-Celtic language, similar in construction to Welsh. The name of the language in Cornish is Kernow, as is the name of Corwall itself. Webster 1913 is semi-correct in referring to Cornish as a dialect rather than a language.

First things first - Cornish is dead. The remnants of its decomposing corpse still abound in the West Country as far East as Hampshire and as far north as Gloucestershire. I've heard it spoken more in Wiltshire than anywhere with the obvious exception of Cornwall, but then, I've spent more time in Wiltshire so this may not be indicative. There are no remaining speakers of pure Kernow as a first language. What little we know now comes from dialect as Webster 1913 helpfully suggests and the remnants of a bastardised language that has been so diluted in English that to many of my compatriots the words they use are merely archaic English or slang.

Most speakers of the remaining shards of Cornish have never seen it written. It no longer has any gendered nouns, although the use of a "pointer" to designate an individual as the target of one's speech is still common and has slipped across into West Country English. Grammar, in so much as there is any, is English Grammar, pure and simple.

Within the next fifty years or so, those last bastions of the Cornish language, old men in pubs will all die away, their arcane conversations rendered inaudible by jukeboxes and Sky Sports, and then Cornish can finally rest in peace.

The name of the Cornish language in Cornish is 'Kernewek', or 'Kernuak' in some dialects. It is not a dialect of English, but a separate, older language. There is, however, also a Cornish dialect, which devolves from English. The Cornish language is related to Welsh, but closer to Breton - Cornish and Breton being mutually intelligible.

Cornish began to wane with the encroachment of English, and the introduction of the English Prayer Book. The last monoglot speaker of Cornish was Dolly Pentreath, who died in 1777. By this time, the language was already being revived by Henry Jenner, therefore has always been continually spoken - although not necessarily as a mother tongue. Cornish is not a dead language: there have always been people able to speak Cornish, and approximately 10% of people living in Cornwall (of whom 50% are actually Cornish, therefore about 20% of Cornish people) currently have knowledge of it, there are also many children who have Cornish as their mother tongue.

Cornish gets no support from the British government. Tuition in Cornish is denied (unlike Welsh), and the demand for this tuition is ignored. Cornish placenames are being systematically replaced with English ones, and the language constituting part of Cornish culture is being denied, contrary to the European charter for Regional and Minority Languages. This leads to widespread ignorance and discrimination against the Cornish, and Cornish speakers.

An example of the difference between Cornish and English are the numbers:
Un/Onen = One
Dew = Two
Try/Teyr = Three
Peswar/Peder = Four
Pymp = Five
Whegh = Six
Seyth = Seven
Eth = Eight
Naw = Nine
Deg = Ten

Kernow bys Vyken!

Cor"nish (k?r"n?sh), a.

Of or pertaining to Cornwall, in England.

Cornish chough. See Chough. -- Cornish engine, a single-acting pumping engine, used in mines, in Cornwall and elsewhere, and for water works. A heavy pump rod or plunger, raised by the steam, forces up the water by its weight, in descending.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cor"nish, n.

The dialect, or the people, of Cornwall.

 

© Webster 1913.

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