Cornish – A minority language of the United Kingdom


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St. Ives Speech and Drama Festival, which is held in Cornwall, UK, included Cornish performances. This was by two of the entrants who also went on to explain to the audience how the language works. This was at its 13th festival held in 2012. This was quite an achievement considering that not many people can fluently speak the language. It is estimated that there are 300,000 Cornish speakers, out of which only 3,000 can engage in simple conversations in the language. Most speakers just know a few basic words that are commonly used. The number of speakers is increasing as some learning institutions are teaching the language. For example, the University of Exeter. Also, more and more children are being brought up with Cornish as their first language consequently, making Cornish children bilinguals.

Cornish is a Brythonic language that is spoken in the United Kingdom. It is from the Celtic branch of languages, which means that it is closely related to Welsh, Breton and Cumbric and shares a number of vocabularies with them. It is distantly related to Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Cornish speakers primarily reside in Cornwall though a number of speakers can be found in other countries. The language was recognized as a minority language by the UK under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

There is an increasing amount of Cornish literature available. This includes written literature which became even more popular when a standard orthography was developed in 2008. The written form is mainly used in learning institutions and during other formal occasions. Poems and songs have helped to gain the interest of non speakers to learn more about the language. The first feature film Hwerow Hweg (Bitter Sweet) was developed in 2002 and since then a number of other films have been released in Cornish. BBC radio Cornwall also holds regular programs in the language and features learners. There are a number of magazines that are written solely in Cornish. This includes An Garrick and An Gannas. Some local newspapers such as Western Morning News have articles written in Cornish.

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