Just three hundred people speak Cornish fluently. But the last native speaker is dead. Now the Nursery Schools Movement (Movyans Skolyow Meythrin) is to spread the Cornish word, with new lessons starting this month at a creche in Camborne.
Notwithstanding that he wants children to speak Cornish, their teacher has a beautiful way with English. Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, who is from Wales, says: “Traditionally the language was seen as for academics or people with beards and the community of bards.”
The children, beardless and bardless, are the future of the Cornish language. Now that a creche is underway, some parents hope that children will become bilingual. With the UK falling behind in languages, perhaps that is a good thing – although Mandarin is arguably of more use.
Mind your Ps and Qs
Cornish comes from the ‘P’ Celtic family (the British version), rather than the Q family (Gaelic). So words like Penn in Cornish become Ceann in Gaelic. In an odd computation, the Times tells us that Cornish shares about two thirds of its vocabulary with Welsh “and even more with Breton”, which presumably means that many Welsh and Breton words are one and the same.
Find out more about the Cornish language.