Friday, 24 August 2012

The Cornish Language. DVD & Email Programmes. MPs Andrew George, Dan Rogerson, Sarah Newton, Stephen Gilbert and David Penhaligon. Where’s Spot? or Ple'ma Spot? Brown Willy Debate. Dolly Pentreath.John Opie

The Cornish Language

Dolly Pentreath,  by John Opie
Dynnargh! Welcome.

Now you have learnt your first Cornish word. And you can learn a lot more if you'd like.

Cornish is a Celtic language which was no longer spoken by the nineteenth century. Dolly Pentreath, painted by John Opie, is famous as the last fluent Cornish speaker and she died in 1777. Now however there are thought to be around 500 speakers since the Cornish Language Board, in conjunction with Kernewek dre Lyther/KDL, started to revive and promote the language in 1983. In 2011 the UN consequently changed the status of the Cornish language from "extinct" to "critically endangered and in 2011 further government funding of £360,000, to be spread over three years, was secured from Andrew Stunell, Minister at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

KDL Cornish Correspondence Course by email

The Cornish Language Board, in conjunction with Kernewek dre Lyther/KDL, provides an email correspondence course for learning Cornish, which is followed in far-flung parts of the world, apart from Cornwall of course. The Cornish Language Board, or Kesva an Taves Kernewek, like other examination boards in the UK, publishes its annual results. The first three courses include an oral and written examination. The fourth grade has an additional Literature and History section. When candidates have completed the fourth grade they are made Bards of the Gorsedh.

The astonishingly reasonable course fee for the First Grade is only £10, payable to Kernewek dre Lyther, Administrator, Roger Bailey

Tamm ha Tamm, or Little by Little.
Dan Rogerson
Andrew George

The Cornish Language Partnership (MAGA) and are behind Tamm ha Tamm, which is an online DVD series teaching conversational Cornish, and is clearly a success. Series 1 started last year on a significant date, 5 March, Saint Piran’s Day, the patron saint of Cornwall.

This month welcome publicity and a renewed surge of interest in Cornish is probably because two Liberal  Democrat MPs, Dan Rogerson MP for  North Cornwall and St Ives MP Andrew George make guest appearances this month on Tamm ha Tamm

David Penhaligon 1944-1986
The fictional Cornishman in the programmes is Steve Penhaligon, who visits the MPs in Westminster and this surname of course is a reminder of David Penhaligon, Liberal MP for Truro from 1974-1986, who was so tragically killed in a car accident on an icy road between St  Austell and Truro in 1986.

The programmes save people from having to trudge off to evening classes. Imaginative language activities include a dinner party, a rugby match with the Cornish Pirates, a pub, shopping, sightseeing, cooking, a coastal walk, Parliament and the Celtic connection.

Stephen Gilbert

Sarah Newton

Andrew George, who was elected in 1997, was the first MP to swear an oath of allegiance in Cornish to the Queen after re-election in 2005. Dan Rogerson in 2005, Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay since 2010 and Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth since 2010 also swore their allegiance in Cornish when they were elected to Parliament.

Brown Willy, Bodmin Moor

The Cornish language is also in the news owing to a campaign to revert to the Cornish name Bronn Wennili instead of Brown Willy but this has more to do with political correctness than to promoting the Cornish language, owing to the connotations in the word willy. Brown Willy looks nothing like a willy, and was easier to say than Bronn Wennili, - just as our troops said ‘Wipers’ rather than Ypres during WW1.

Tamm ha Tamm Series 1 DVD £9.99 can be obtained from MAGA at,

Where’s Spot? or Ple'ma Spot?

The popular children’s book has been translated into Cornish in time for Christmas 2012. There are already many books in Cornish as well as a dictionary of course. Maga offers free translations of up to 40 words to businesses and others wanting signage etc . There are Cornish adult classes all over Cornwall, in schools and also in London, and the future of the language looks brighter than ever.