The Cornish Language
and All is Cornwall's motto
is Cornish Related to other Celtic Languages?
Between 1500 B.C.
and the first encounters with the Romans, around 350 B.C., the Celtic languages
are believed to split into two distinct groups, the 'p' and 'q' Celtic branches.
Cornish, Welsh and Breton (to which Cornish is most closely related) are the three
remaining 'p' Celtic languages. Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx being the 'q' Celtic
The Decline of Cornish
developed pretty much naturally into a modern European language until the 17th
Century, after which it came under pressure by the encroachment of English. Factors
involved in its decline included the introduction of the English prayer book,
the rapid introduction of English as a language of commerce and most particularly
the negative stigma associated with what was considered by Cornish people themselves
as the language of the poor.
Tavas exists to promote the Cornish Language in all its traditional forms. You
can hear Cornish on this site.
Cornish Language Centre
Cornish Language Fellowship
Language Learning Centre
The following phrases are taken from:
KERNUACK : A BIT OF MODERN CORNISH.
whye cawas tabm? Do you want a bite to eat?
whye! Good day to you!
God bless (on meeting)
venga cawas..... I'd like to have......
tay/coffy. A cup of tea/coffee.
* Cor. Beer.
* Gwyne. Wine.
* Dowr. Water.
* Hoggan. A pasty
* Tezan saffern.
whye! or Merastawhye! or Gra'massy. Thank you.
gena whye? How are you?
genam a ehaz. I am well.
whye lowenack! Happiness to you!
Rebirth of Cornish
Cornish died out as a native language in the
late 19th century, with the last Cornish speaker believed to have lived in Penwith.
By this time however, Cornish was being revived by Henry Jenner, planting the
seeds for the current state of the language.
Standard Cornish was developed from Jenner's work by a team
under the leadership of Morton Nance, culminating in the first full set of grammars,
dictionaries and periodicals. Standard Cornish (Unified) is again being
developed through UCR (Unified Cornish Revised), and incorporates most features
of Cornish, including allowing for Eastern and Western forms of pronunciation
and colloquial and litery forms of Cornish.