back to article Cornish lingo gets standard written form

Supporters of the Cornish language have, following "more than two years of passionate negotiations", agreed on an essential for official recognition of and funding for their tongue - a "Standard Written Form" (SWF) designed to unify the disparate versions of the revived lingo. According to the Telegraph, the last native …


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  1. Liam Johnson

    Money please

    Ylass faduch willo f'rek mi gunock! Plip brish 100,000 EUR

  2. Eponymous Cowherd

    Ooh Arr Ay

    Should make that bunch of evil terrorists, the CNLA (Cornwall National Liberation Army, AKA the Ooh Arr Ay) a bit happier.

    Mine's the Oggy shaped one with the clotted cream trimmings.....

  3. Lyndon Hills

    but does this mean

    that we'll be able to understand the comments from amanfrommars now?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn!

    Paris, because she supports the cause...

  5. Liam

    waste of money!

    wtf? all this expense for 300 people speaking a language? how much of my tax money goes towards this utter bollocks?

    the EU proves again that its simply there to provide highly paid jobs for idiots with nothing better to do!

    how many signs are REALLY needed to be in cornish?

    its almost as bad as the £70M spent on useless gaelic/celtic TV channel (cant remember now) by the BBC! i mean polish and hindi are more widely spoken up there!

  6. Chris Miller

    And the point of this would be?

    They may well be able to converse with each other, but since the last speaker died over 200 years ago, we can have no idea whether the sounds they utter bear much relation to how Cornish would have been spoken.

    So what's the point? Surely not the ability to access the uncounted treasures of literature written only in Cornish?? Ah, I think I have it, "paves the way for EU cash".

    If I can get together 300 fluent Klingon speakers, can we get an EU grant too?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    300 fluent speakers...

    ... and now they can have road signs? There's more people fluent in Klingon than that. Or management speak, actually.

    Can we start up a boutique to get every road sign re-labled, so it refers to roundabouts as "cirular-path exit strategem realisers"?

    To borrow an old joke- is the main aim of the various cornish language* pressure groups to support indigenous sign-writers?

    * It's English really, right?

  8. Steve Evans

    @Lyndon Hills

    Don't be silly, he's from another planet entirely.

    It's the one with the radio active granite in the pocket.

  9. Spleen

    "led by Norwegian Trond Trosterud"

    Rather ironic, since the Norwegians still haven't figured out how they should write their own language.

  10. Saucerhead Tharpe

    Cornish isn't English

    Anonymous Coward

    Cornish, whatever it may be, isn't English. It was a P-Celtic language related to Breton and Welsh.

    Of course modern English isn't English either.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    I was under the impression that most native cornish were illiterate anyway, communicating with various grunts and pointing.

    And before anyone flames me, I have a long history of cornish history, so far traced back to the 12th century (records are pretty scant back then!). I also visit family in kernow at least twice a year.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    Cornish is a language, not a lingo. A "lingo" is a pejorative term for a specific vocabulary or a language used by some identifiable sub-group (such as programmer's "lingo"). Computerese 3-letter Acronyms constitute a lingo. Cornish is definitely NOT a lingo.

  13. Simon Millard

    proper job

    Send them all to Porthemmet

  14. John Donovan

    Language by comittee

    My god, it'll be like esperanto. As others have said, Cornish as we know it now is an almost entirely made up language. Let's loose the chains and let Cornwall float off into the Atlantic if they want independence. They can keep that bloody awful Land's End theme park too.

    @Saucerhead: on a matter of pedantry, modern English is Engish (language) as well as English (belonging to the English people), but it's origins are more of a Heinz 57. You have to define a country's language as that spoken by the plebs at any given period. So Chaucer's English was English when Chaucer was writing in it.

    Mine's the one with the English Language degree certificate from an online "university" in the pocket.

  15. Peter Bradley


    An infinitesimally small amount.

    Good luck to the Cornish - and the speakers of other minority languages.


  16. Christoph

    If it only needs 300 speakers of a language

    We can has strit syns plz?

  17. Len Goddard

    Not a language either

    Three hundred hobbyists without anything better to do don't form a linguistic group. This is a complete waste of time and money. I really hope they don't start inflicting this rubbish on schoolchildren.

  18. ImaGnuber

    Pretend Language

    As the last speaker died in 1777 we're looking at a pretend language here as, has been pointed out, no one can know what it really sounded like. The grammar may survive if there are written records but not the sound - though some work has been done with other languages to recover probable pronunciation so I assume so here.

    Reinventing the spoken language may, however, increase the feeling for one's cultural history and that is worth commending. Criticising a particular group for basing their feelings on what amounts to a synthetic element isn't really an issue as all cultural feelings are based to a large extent on cultural myths - most of us just weren't around when they were invented.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great another Welsh, just what's needed...

    The purpose of these is to allow job adverts that proclaim "Cornish speakers preferred" - keeps the gene pool nice and tight.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Denis Robert

    300 people in an area the size of Cornwall - an identifiable sub-group, some might argue.

  21. Tim

    Let's get the silly Klingon references out of the way

    To those who insist on ridiculing minority languages by saying "more people speak Klingon than X", where X might be Welsh, Scots, Esperanto, Nynorsk, or in this case Cornish, I refer you to Lawrence Schoen, the director of the Klingon Language Institute, who is quoted as saying, "All the fiuent Klingon speakers can comfortably go out to dinner together." (All right, that was in 1996, but I'm not aware of any hundred-fold increase in speakers since then.)

    A language is far more than just a tool for communicating -- it's an embodiment of identification within a group, and ridiculing the language or denying its right to exist is akin to doing the same to the group it represents.

    Now, maybe you *want* to ridicule the Cornish people -- they can defend themselves against all the "oo-ar, get orf my laaand" you can throw at them, I'm sure -- but the belittling of other people's languages as if they were worthless playthings... well, it gets on my tits, that's all.

  22. Grant

    @ waste of money!

    I think you'll find that's about 3000 :-) not that it makes any difference.

    It is mostly made up now as most of the books were burned a while back for some reason (ahem can't think why that would be) and the rest have perished. Now all you have is a load of old people disputing any remaining written work so they can model the rescued language on 'their version' :-) (or something like that)

  23. Tony


    "most native cornish were illiterate anyway, communicating with various grunts and pointing"

    No, those are the people from outside of the county that have been moved here because their local councils have issued them more than 25 ASBO's and have given up trying to work with them.

    Or they are the emmits that clog up the roads with their caravans as they search for a shop that sells "genuine Devon cream teas" (hint; not a typing error)

    Or they are the surfing wannabees that can't afford to go to a beach where you don't have to wear 5 layers of neoprene to protect you against the cold.

    Or they are Janners that didn't want to pay the parking fees at Drake's Circus and got lost looking for a parking space out of town.

    I did ask the local council about levels of literacy amongst native Cornish; they said that they will get back to me drekkly.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why cant we just just let these old languages die?

    I really annoys me that so much effort is spent to artifiically keep languages alive. Welsh is of course the classic example, would have died out years ago were it not artificially resusitated by law. Surely the fewer languages in the world, the better we can all communicate, and as the mobile phone companies are so fond of telling us - communication is good. A language is just a tool to communicate, it has nothing to do with 'culture'.

  25. ImaGnuber

    @Why cant we just just let these old languages die?

    "A language is just a tool to communicate, it has nothing to do with 'culture'."

    Only a true cultural illiterate could make a comment like that so I'm hoping it was an attempt at a humorous troll.

  26. Aditya Krishnan


    there are probably more people who can write in Aurebesh out there. And I'm pretty sure at least a few hundred people are comfortable in limited Mando'a.. can I get a grant to 'develop' the language...

  27. ian

    So then Latin isn't a language by that definition

    From the earlier posts, it seems that a language isn't a language when:

    The last native speaker died ages ago.

    It is a dead (expired, passed on, no more, etc.) language.

    No one today knows how it was pronounced.

    It has imported foreign words.

    It is spoken by a small minority who are not universally loved.

    Yes, that's Latin. Cornish seems to be in good company!

  28. Pyros

    If Cornish is pretend...

    Does that means Welsh is the same? That might explains a *few* things about that part of Britain... >)

    Mine's the parrot print one with the bottled margarita and salt shaker in the pocket, please. Ta!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very interesting

    Genuinely something different.

    Thanks, the Reg.

    Noticed: eyl - ‘one of two’.

    well well..

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i will do science to this language you speak of

    at least, according to wikipedia "Cornish shares about 75% basic vocabulary with Welsh"

    i for one welcome our incomprehensibly babbling overlords

  31. ratfox

    @Cornish is english

    O RLY? Then read this:

    1'539 articles... Which means that each of the 300 people wrote 5 pages. Not bad, considering there are "only" 2 millions pages in English!

  32. Andy Bright


    I don't know why people get so fussed about other countries and languages, everyone knows the whole world understands English if you shout it loud enough.. although if you want to show the proper respect to a foreign culture you should add suitable language modifiers at the end.. "EL PINTO BEERO, IS THAT SO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND!?"

    Jovial comments about saving them/beating them in WWII always go down well too, as does a healthy mistrust of anything on a plate not recognisable as coming from your average chippy.

  33. F MacIllFhinnein

    @ Pretend Language

    A dead language? Like, er, Hebrew, then?

  34. Chris Miller

    Cornish is not Latin

    Although Latin is also a 'dead' language, so no-one knows how it was spoken - get two experts together and listen to them disagree about hard or soft Cs and how to pronounce a V. On the other hand, Latin has a rather extensive body of literature including major poetic works, whereas Kernowak (?sp :) has ... ?

    Of course, the waste of money pales into insignificance compared with this:

    a 'language' produced by taking standard English and applying an injudicious mixture of Oor Wullie and The Krankies.


  35. ImaGnuber

    @Andy Bright



  36. JohnG

    Waste of money

    Reinventing a dead language does not help people communicate. If they want to help people communicate, they could start by spending the money/resources on taming some of the country's feral youth and helping them communicate effectively.

  37. Andrew Matthews

    Good for they

    As a cornishman born ( but not bred, as my parents were from away-as Newfies say),

    I say good for them,

    the tin mines are all closed.

    The French tried to suppress Breton, and now it's bouncing back.

    The more standard English becomes dominant in communication,

    the more we should appreciate and preserve language diversity.

    Just my tuppence worth.

  38. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Have to agree - waste of money

    Sorry have to agree this is a waste of money. Whilst i have no problem with spending money keeping alive a langauge that was still in regular use (welsh, celtic, etc) reviving a language that has been dead for 200 years is a complete waste of taxpayers money. If people want to do it off there own bat like Tolkein invented Elven, good luck to them. But why should i pay for it? I'm certainly not Cornish!

    And as for those that compare cornish to latin, latin is not a true dead language. It has been the lingua franca for scientific research in other languages since roman times, so it has never truly been dead, it has been in continuous use and still is today (just not in a form that would be recognisable to an ancient rome - but then neither would modern english be comprehensible to an early english speaker!).

  39. umacf24


    The specification's in English......

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    By 'eck

    Since when did the number of pagers in a given "language" on "wiki" become the measure of the human knowledge and achievement?

    I dont deny its usefulness (well at least in debates on the level with "a man in the pub once told me....), but it is by no means the Encyclopaedia Britannica or the modern equivalent of the Great Library of Babylon?

    At home i have over a 1,000 books, of which handfuls are German, French, Spanish and Arabic! Does that mean by this equally pointless measure that all other cultures and associated languages are bunk?

    That said, at least these tribes in the 3rd world (e.g. Papua new guinea, not Cornwall - although easy mistake) have been actively using their languages for years up until present times.

    At best then, where "lingos" like "Cornish" have been resurrected there has to be some doubt as to its validity? ok, it perhaps stand up better if as is claimed its is a version/dialect of the "Breton/Gaelic group" of languages?

    That said there is perhaps similar argument with ancient Greek or Latin, although both of these have a form of currency in that there has been a continuous pool of people using this as a form of communication and study in an unbroken form.

    Surely with the state of British schools (maybe I should exclude Scotland on the basis of the generous subsidies supplied by London) that the money should be spent on providing a better education system in English (or Chinese even) that will lead to these children having real economic advantages in life, I appreciate that “local” customs and traditions should be maintained, but even in the 1970s the Yorkshire Post used to print sections in the Local Dialect and this has long gone and most people I mention it too scoff at the thought of the thought of such a region as having their own dialect. These people however are often southern and benefit from having the south eastern dialect of English adopted into general use through the works of Chaucer etc!

  41. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    A new language to learn!

    Is it fully object-oriented?

  42. xjy

    Cornish could be usefully lethal to Alien Bogeys

    The amount of money is miniscule. A single military subproject can cost millions more. US military toilet seats, frinstance. Or the flags to be flown by Trident subs. Even the US supports (often reluctantly -- they're as bone-headed as most of the numbnuts ranting against "small" languages here) native language research - often (as in Chomsky's case with other aspects of linguistics) with money from the defense budget (no offense ;-). They even made a film about how useful small languages could be in the field: Windtalkers. Flummoxed the Japs in WW2. And anything that can kill lots of Japs or Huns or Reds or Towelheads or Bogeys-of-the-Day must be good, right?

    Attach a Cornish speaker or two to the Royal Marines - may god have mercy on their souls - and all these arseholes will immediately change their tune and start devouring Freedom Pasties instead of deep-fried Bogey Balls.

  43. P. Bowden

    Myttin da

    Myttin da, oll. Fatla genowgh?

    Actually, Dolly Pentreath wasn't the last speaker of Cornish - there were a handful of others; in fact, some say the language didn't really die out at all.

    A waste of money and/or time? It depends whether you think that language death is a good thing. I don't. I see language death in the same way as I see species extinction - a really sad thing, that is humanity's loss. Think of all the grammatical/linguistic features that we never knew about because some language somewhere died before we could examine it and record it. So sad.

    Oll an gwella,


    P.S. Kernow bys vykken!

  44. Sean Ellis

    what a pity...

    ...lots of you dullards slagging off this story of diversity and culture can't even spell your own language properly. innit?

  45. Mark SPLINTER

    So many retards in this thread

    It amazes me that people get ants in their pants when tiny amounts of money are "wasted" on cultural projects, just because they don't happen to care about that particular part of our culture.... and yet if the same money is spent on a fancy bomb which destroys an iraqi school and rips a child's legs off, we all just carry on with our lives.

  46. GrahamT

    Native speaker vs speaker

    The last native speaker may have died in 1777, but there were many bilingual English/Cornish speakers up until the last century. During the first world war Breton and Cornish soldiers could talk to each other in pidgin Breton/Cornish though neither spoke the others "native" English/French.

    Bearing in mind that the Celts moved from Cornwall to Brittany shortly after the Angles and Saxons invaded from Germany/Holland/Denmark, that is some continuity of language. Imagine us English speakers being able to talk to Germans, both in our own language!

    As has been stated, Welsh and Cornish also share much of their vocabulary. The Celtic/Gealic languages, maybe because of their isolation, seem to have more in common than, say, the latin (French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, etc) or Germanic (English, Dutch, German) groups of languages, which have diverged so much as to be mutually incomprehensible.

    By the way, Latin is not dead; it lives in southern Europe and Latin America (the clue is in the name). It just evolved into French, Italian, etc., just as the Anglo-Saxon of Beowolf evolved into modern English, and Icelandic, for example.

  47. smell fresher

    300 fluent speakers

    There are far more people in England who can speak French. Can we have street signs in French please?

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Re Cornish is not Latin

    "It wis publishit in February 2003."

    Says it all...

  49. Chris Hunt


    Ridiculing this proposal does not amount, in any way, to "ridicul[ing] the Cornish people". There are half a million people living in Cornwall; 499,700 don't speak Cornish. If there's money to be spent developing the county (and development cash is something they very much need, I gather), I'm sure a lot of them would like to see it spent on something more useful.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Preserving language and culture

    Unfortunately, "english-speaking" cultures have a rather bad track record of supressing and killing non-english speaking folks (around the world). The destruction of native languages on one small island in the north atlantic is rather well matched by their cousins in north america regarding the folks who emigrated there before them...

    While I can't say I recommend wild expenditures of government (our) money on this, it surely can't rate with the far worse ways they have figured out to piss away our tax dollars.

    I'm going, I'm going.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Three Hundred?

    Madness? This is Cornwall!

  52. P. Bowden

    History - don't ignore it

    Graham T knows what he's talking about. Let's not ignore history. English, after all, is a "foreign" language - the language of the Germanic invaders. We all spoke Welsh/Cornish, once. Or "British" as it was. And most of us on these islands are descended from speakers of this language - the genetic evidence is overwhelming. Did you know that the word "Welsh" comes from the old English "Wealas", meaning "foreigners"? A bit much, considering that the English were the foreign invaders!

    Trace your ancestors and open your minds - I used to think I was merely English - but now I know I'm mostly something much more interesting - a Celt!

  53. Luther Blissett


    To hide the Red Queen on a black and white chessboard. Or in newspeak, "cultural diversity", which sounds like a product, but is actually an on-going process to confuse and confound social identities. Which is newspeak for replacing real communities in spatio-temporal proximity with virtual ones in quasi-logical proximity. Real ones with hyperreal ones.


  54. Craig Healey

    Foreign Celts

    Sorry this is so late (the Cornish language not being at the top of my agenda), but I'd just like to correct P.Bowden. Celtic language and culture is generally regarded as starting with the La Tene and Hallstatt cultures, over in Europe. It was imported into Britain, where it replaced the indigenous languages and cultures. It was, in turn, replaced by Anglo-Saxon over much of the country. Anglo-Saxon then evolved into English, which holds sway over most of the globe (notice what happens when you write in Cornish on this board - you can write in a Celtic language can't you, otherwise exactly which bit of their culture are you happy about).

    As for tracing your ancestors, how far back have you managed to get? Hope none of them pesky Normans/Vikings/Angevin/Huguenots/Eastern European Jews etc diluted your pure Celtic DNA.

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