Cornish Flag

Cornish Language

Kernewek Tavas

Web: www.cornish-language.org
Web: www.cornishdictionary.org.uk

By Tre, Pol and Pen shall ye know all Cornishmen

All over Cornwall you will see cars emblazoned not with GB stickers but with the flag of St. Piran, often accompanied by the word 'Kernow' (Cornish for Cornwall). This white cross on a black field represents not only the tin for which Cornwall is so famous but also a fiercely independent spirit.


Cornish Language

The Cornish Language went from being the universal language of the population of Cornwall in 1300 to extinction by 1900. It has had a certain revival since then. Today after much spending of government money, about 300 people appear to speak the language with some knowledge. However these few are split into 3 camps, each promoting their own version of the language, with differing pronunciation and spelling.

There was a tribe called the Dumnonii, who inhabited most of south west Britain including Cornwall. Cornish started to evolve as a separate language around 2000 BC.

Cornish continued to develop as a separate language until the 17th century, then started to decline as English became the language that was necessary to succeed. Cornish became looked on a the language of the poorer people. The church acted as a further stimulus for English as the Prayer Book was only published in English. In fact there was a major uprising in Cornwall in 1549 against the imposition of the English Prayer Book.

After about 1700 the Cornish language declined rapidly with the death of Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole, generally acknowledged as the last person to have exclusively spoken Cornish. Chesten Marchant, who died in 1676 at Gwithian, is believed to have been the last monoglot Cornish Language speaker. In the 20th century however, there has been something of a revival, with an increasing interest in learning and preserving Cornwall's ancient language.

In recent years Henry Jenner has spearheaded a move to revive the Cornish Language, and grammars, dictionaries and magazines in the language have been published. The Cornish language (referred to as Kernewek by its speakers) stands out among other lesser-used languages of Europe because it is a language that has been revived after having died out.

Wilfred Melville Benetto was the author of the first full-length novel in Cornish in 1984. He was elected a member of Gorseth Kernow under the Bardic name of Abransek ('Bushy-browed One') in 1968.

In 2003 the Cornish language is recognised under the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and the Government has provided up to £150,000 a year to support its development.

Many books are now available in Cornish, and there is a movement by some to have Cornish road signs. Many main roads into the county have the name Kernow as well as Cornwall.

EnglishCornish
CornwallKernow
CornishKernewek
Good dayDydh da
Good morningMyttin da
Good afternoonDohajydh da
Good eveningGorthugher da
Good nightNos da
WelcomeDynnargh dhis
How are you?Fatla genes?
What is your name?Pyth yw dha hanow?
Where are you from?Ple'th os ta trigys?
Pleased to meet youDa yw genev metya genes
HelloHou
Good byeFarwell
TorCarn
FarmAmethi
GardensLowarthow
RoadForth/fore
StreetStret
Port or harbourPorth
BridgePons
HouseChy
ValleyNans/nance
Pool, pond, cove or creekPol
MarketMarhas
OldCoth
Spring or wellsFenten/venten
MoorlandGoon
HillBre
MineWheal
SmallVean
TheAn
BeachTreath
HeadPen
RockCarrack
Castle or FortDinas
Deep Wooded ValleyGlyn
Sand DunesTowans
EstuaryHeyl
FishPesk
RiverAvon
SpringGwenton
SummerHavow
AutumnKynyavow
WinterGwavow
ChristmasNadelik
JanuaryGenver
FebruaryHwevrel
MarchMeurth
AprilEbrel
MayMe
JuneEfen
JulyGorefen
AugustEst
SeptemberGwydngala
OctoberHedra
NovemberDu
DecemberKevardhu

Famous Cornish People       Cornish Anthem