SSi Forum

Cornish language communities online?


Sorry, I wasn´t trying to do down the language movement. However it´s important not to swallow all your own propaganda, as it were. When you´re inside the bubble that´s all too easy, and there´s a lot of wishful thinking in some quarters. This then leads to exaggerated claims getting passed around the Celtic networks. There have been some real achievements, hard won. But progress is slow and fragile.

On a personal note, I became increasingly unhappy as the County Council began to undermine the ´authority´ of the Kesva (Language Board) which had been the de facto regulating body for the language for decades, elected by Cornish speakers and learners. There seemed to me at least, to be an unwritten policy to first take over and then to stifle the movement. Call me paranoid if you will :slight_smile:

Also at about the same time, the annual Language Weekend (which had slowly grown to almost a full week for those with the time to spare) was changed from a cheap-n-cheerful affair designed to draw in the maximum number of people, to something more ´exclusive´ and ´up-market´, which I thought was a very bad move, and TBH not really my hanav a de.

Anyway, I took less interest in current matters and turned to analysing the surviving texts, the structure of the verse and so on. Academic and a bit technical, but necessary to get the feel of the language, IMO at least.

Ytho, ottavy! Ow thybyansow ow honan yns yn hwir, mez ny allav vy marnaz y leverel kepar dell welis vy :wink:


Gosh, I’m sorry if you’ve had so many negative experiences with the Cornish language movement in the past that anyone who happens to say anything positive or upbeat about it must be “swallowing all [their] own propaganda”. :frowning: Really, I appreciate what you’re saying, but that is rather how it comes across.

As I said, I’ve only been involved with the revival for about 18 months (if that) and I’m only speaking from my own experiences, as indeed you are from yours. I don’t have any sides to take or axes to grind and I don’t want to go anywhere near personal politics. I’m just grateful for anyone who wants to support the language revival in whatever way they can, whether it’s research, teaching, writing, representation at government level, or simply turning up at a Yeth an Werin every now and again. Like I said in the other thread, when one is part of a small community, it’s important to stick together — even when we don’t always agree on everything. :wink:


Look, sorry. I didn´t come here (SSiW ) to talk about Cornish, simply to add a piece of information on another thread, and then got drawn into various interesting discussions here. I should probably have stayed clear.

I had plenty of good experiences with the Cornish crowd, just as you have, and I hope continue to have. The trouble arose when the carrot of official funding was dangled in front of the movement.

It´s a long story but as I understand it, as part of the GFA they had to give official status to ¨Ulster Scots¨, a somewhat dubious linguistic creation, as parity for Irish. But having accepted US there was no way they could not accept Cornish, which is a ¨real language¨ with an extant literature (ancient and modern) and so on. This was all part of some international treaty which the UK government had signed up to.

Not quite knowing how to implement this new duty, the responsibility was passed down to the County Council who didn´t have much idea either. They were supposed to promote the language in public signage, teach it ´officially´ in schools etc. As a way of stalling they insisted that everything had first to be standardised. This of course opened a number of old wounds that had largely healed. There had been enough wiggle room for different sub-groups (most of them very small in truth) to use their own varients of Cornish, and mostly not fight over their differences.

But once money (very little actually materialised) and ´official status´ were thrown into the balance, well ferrets in a sack hardly covers it. To be fair most of the vitriol was to be seen on-line, on the whole people were civil in face-to-face contact. Nevertheless seeing perfectly nice and sincere folk being abused on-line day after day, eventually gets to you. Trying to have an informed, sometimes fairly technical, discussion in such an atmosphere becomes impossible.

The overall outcome was simply to destabilise the movement, which I suspect may have been the Council´s intention, ¨We didn´t ask for this, just make it all go away!¨ So they fell back on the old trick of Divide and Rule. Where there are factions, set them against one another. Which of course only sharpens the ideological differences. In the meantime the Council can largely sit on its hands.

Eventually you just burn out and give up. I still speak Cornish to the cat … hi a wra konvedhez pub ger-oll :slight_smile:


Not a community, but a beginners´ page I did a while back that might be useful :

Feedback and comments welcome. But be warned, this won´t necessarily be compatible with your SSiK course.


I thought I’d throw my two penny worth in but most have been said already by Courtney, true there are no areas where large groups of Cornish speakers meet/talk but I find there’s plenty going on, you just have to make the active effort to search for things, I live in east Cornwall I attend a large class in callington, that is where I speak most of my Cornish but I’m active on social media and I would say that’s the best bet for others to engage with other speakers, “I pledge to become more fluent in Cornish” on Facebook is a really good group with people posting daily, also try the kowethas an yeth kernewek.
I’m on Twitter and Instagram I searched for people using the #kernewek and started following and engaging with them.
It’s not easy but I try to engage in social media in kernewek at least daily :grinning:


I’m not on Facebook myself, but Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek is definitely another good group for keeping in touch re events, Yeth an Werin details, and so on. They also have a monthly all-Cornish magazine for members, An Gannas, which is good for stretching one’s reading abilities (and giving an gerlyver a workout). I recently received the September issue and can see a familiar name under “sewen gans bri” (pass with honour) in this year’s first grade Kernewek exam… keslowena Shaun :smile:

It’s true, there really is a lot more going on with Cornish speakers and learners than most people would realise… as Shaun says, you just have to take the time to look. :slight_smile:


Meur ras dhis, Courtnay pur lowen ov vy :grinning:


Sadly the Westminster government’s decision to withdraw funding led to the closing down of MAGA the language office. Whatever people may think about the work the office one of its great successes was introduction of ‘Tregedna rules’ events. These came about from residential week ends at Tregedna where the rules were 1) ‘Cornish only’ and 2) nothing in writing. Formal sessions were held by people (some traditional teachers being challenged by not being allowed to use written material) but it was all the organising, socialising and generally living 21/2 days entirely through the medium of Cornish that had the biggest impact.

Attendees at the residentials quickly became confident speakers and, in some cases, went on to become very clued up teachers. Again eschewing reading and writing seemed to produce the best results in terms of acquisition and confidence to use Kernewek in public. Pol and I would like to run these sessions again but will need a fair few numbers to make them viable.

With all this in mind maybe this forum would be a good place for people to register an interest in attending?


My a garsa gul henna, Mike ha Pol! :grinning: I would need to know the dates well in advance, though, as it would mean organising a few days’ leave from work and a trip to Cornwall (I live just east of Greater London). If it’s ever possible, though, count me in. :star2:


Meur dhe les, heb mar. So what exactly was the idea behind the ´no writing´ rule? That´s a new one to me, so I´m interested to know how it worked. From what I remember of the old Language W/Es most of the informal goings on were obviously oral, as were a lot of the organised events. There are some types of classes etc. though that would be difficult to hold, if not impossible, without some written materials. Anyway, an interesting experiment, is there anything written up that teachers etc. could refer to? Oll a´n gwella :slight_smile:


I thought these were still going? There was certainly one last year because I remember seeing the Facebook posts. Also wanted to say at the Cornish language weekend on the Friday they have a tregedna day for those at the right level. Any language teacher will tell you immersion is the best method, obviously funding comes into it but it would be good if there were a couple of tregedna weekends a year


Yes, there was one this year in April, combined with a “cramming day” (“dydh stoffya”) for those preparing for exams. As I’m still a relatively new learner and haven’t been taking formal classes or preparing for exams, I didn’t consider attending the Dydh Tregedna on the Friday, only to the rest of the weekend. I guess I assumed it was only for much more advanced speakers. Now I’m wondering, would beginners have been welcome at that day as well? It was a bit baffling to a newcomer who didn’t know what “Tregedna” meant to established Kowethas members — I would have liked more information about what the day involved and who it was aimed at. I would definitely consider attending it next year if beginners are also encouraged to attend and are catered for!


Dydh da Courtney.

Consider yoursef counted in! I’ll keep a note of anyone who expresses an interest and put a post up here later in the year about what we might be able to do.




Dydh da shaunrennie_plume

the last Tregedna Weekend run by MAGA was not organised by Pol and I and by all accounts was not run on ‘Tregedna rules’ As far as we know the only person in Cornwall Council working on the language is not planning to run the event again. In any case if they did we would still like to run an event as it was very popular with attendees. Our hope for 2017 we be to run the week end as in previous years ie following the ‘no reading writing’ rule because the evidence for its effectiveness was overwhelming.

With a bit of careful planning we hope to attract ‘semi-speakers’ this time




Its simple really and works in a similar way to the ‘Say Something in…’ programme. Children dont learn reading and writing first, explaining rules gets in the way, different parts of the brain in use etc etc. People can choose to go to books later if they want but it isn’t necessary to become an L2 speaker.

In relation to the Tregedna week ends it took a lot of planning to ensure the spaces in between the formal sessions were coherent, productive and inclusive. A major factor was having a couple of key people who were fluent and engaging in their approach acting as organisers. They acted as the ‘glue’ as it were that kept everyone going. We also had to ‘coach’ the traditional teachers beforehand in the method in order to help them not fall back onto bookish approaches to teaching. (not always easy or appreciated).

In short we focussed on good language acquisition theory and practice rather than get side tracked with orthography, dictionaries and discussions about ‘correctness’ etc. As I have said before, there will allways be a place for these discussions, theyare just not for Tregedna

That ‘Tregedna rules’ became the Cornish language movements shorthand for immersive approaches by others, we think, is testimony to the method.




Splann! I’ve only just passed my 1st grade but I’m definitely interested. I loved the Cornish language weekend although English was spoken as well it felt like a immersion event, I’d highly recommend it to anyone!


Meur ras dhis. Meur dhe les o henna ha da yw genev gothvoz boz arbrovow a´n par-na ow moz yn-rag. Mez …

My main concern would be with pronunciation. Each language has its own sound system, the distinctions in Cornish are not always the same as in English (or any other language). Accentuation, vowel length and so on are quite different. Picking all this up orally without the support of written materials would only work if (a) the learners were children (or exceptional adults, there are always a few!) and (b) the ´models´ available to them were at least ´near-native´. I honestly doubt this is possible in the very special situation that Cornish finds itself. So the danger is that the quality of spoken Cornish would gradually degenerate and become increasingly anglicised. Whereas the longterm aim, I would hope, would be to gradually improve the authenticity of Revived Cornish but rooting out at least the most blatant mispronunciations.

Po oste jy ow kryzi dell yw ¨Kernewek gwann gwell ez Sowsnek splann¨ ?


At a guess I many people feel cautious about Cornish pronunciation because it is understandably dominated by English. I would maintain, however, imitating someone speaking is the best way to go as that will get more people developing meaningful prosody quickly… that is why SSiC is so good. The trick is to get the on-line people face to face.

However, if we cant wean ourselves off of the written stuff I strongly recommend Albert Book’s paper on vowel length as good starting point:




Thanks, Mike, that’s very interesting and useful and goes into a lot more depth than anything else I’ve seen so far on the subject… boy, it’s a lot to take in, though! I’ll have to sit down with it and go through it properly when I have time. The sound files with it are especially helpful.

True, but I guess the difficulty there is that depending on when and where and how the speaker one is imitating learned their Cornish, the pronunciation can differ greatly and it’s hard for a newcomer to tell which is more “right” or accurate. Even on SSiC, there’s a very noticeable difference in accent between the two presenters. Pol has a quite strong Anglo-Cornish accent; Julia has a pretty much standard southern English accent. Even from the first lesson, the difference is obvious. Pol pronounces the “u” in “y wul” in a way that makes it sound almost like “weel” to my (Australian) ears; Julia pronounces it not much differently from “wool” in English. I’m guessing Pol’s pronunciation is closer to what’s recommended as correct, but for a beginner being confronted with two noticeably different pronunciations of the same words in quick succession, it does get a little confusing.

I suppose it would be easy to think this talk of correct pronunciation is all too complex and off-putting and it doesn’t really matter that much, so long as we can all understand one another well enough. But I thought this from the start of Albert Book’s paper was very telling:

Problems have been aggravated by the gradual loss of Anglo-Cornish pronunciation in Cornwall, drawing the pronunciation of younger learners of Cornish towards that of South-eastern English. It has been observed that specifically the prosody used by many learners is more or less wholly English, and I have tested this with native speakers of German who knew no English. All of them were unable to tell if they were listening to English or learners’ Cornish, although they immediately recognised the difference between Welsh and English.


I’d take that with a few fairly large grains of salt - as being too small a sample. I’ve had Basque speakers who weren’t very familiar with Welsh promise that they couldn’t tell when we (a group of fluent Welsh speakers, some first language some second) were speaking Welsh and when we were speaking English (although they were horrified at the thought that the reverse was true for Basque and Spanish!).

I think the key point here is that there is no ‘one true accent’ in any language, and there (thankfully) never will be. Even individuals will vary how they say things depending on a whole range of factors.

Having variation in responses in a course does make learners feel a little panicky - it’s so natural to think ‘but which one is RIGHT?!!’ - and yet it’s a hugely important lesson that you need to expect variations, and you will need to hear and understand variations - so, by extrapolation, you are very likely to be understood whichever variant you use yourself.

In the long run, your lifetime accent will be formed by the accents of the people with whom you speak most often - naturally and largely unavoidably. So it really isn’t something you should let hold you back in the learning stage… :slight_smile: