Derivas Avonsyans Displegyans an Yeth Kernewek
dres an Vlydhen 2006

An vlydhen 2006 a dhiskwedhas avonsyansow na hwarva kyns yn displegyans an yeth kernewek, orth hy gul onan a’n moyha arwoedhek a-ban dhallathas an Dasserghyans. An toeth ma a dhisplegyans re besyas bys yn 2007.

A-varr y’n vlydhen 2006 yth afydhys an fardell arghansek, synsys ynno 3 hevro blydhenyek a £80,000 dhiworth an governans, £20,000 dhiworth Konsel Kernow ha £100,000 dhiworth towlenn Amkan 1 an Unyans Europek, a wra warbarth sommenn a £600,000. Gans hemma surhes, Keskowethyans an Taves Kernewek re allas gorra yn soedh Dyghtyores Displegyans an Yeth Kernewek ha Menystrores (agan bardhesow Gwydhvosenn, Jenefer Lowe, ha Losowenn an Hav, Elizabeth Stewart).

Report On Progress In The Development Of The Cornish Language During 2006

The year 2006 saw unprecedented advances in the development of the Cornish language, making it one of the most significant since the start of the Revival. This pace of development has continued into 2007.

Early in 2006 the funding package was approved, consisting of 3 annual contributions of £80,000 from central government, £20,000 from Cornwall Council and £100,000 from the European Union Objective 1 programme, making a total package of £600,000. With this in place the Cornish Language Partnership has been able to appoint a Cornish Language Development Manager and an Administrator (bards Gwydhvosenn, Jenefer Lowe, and Losowenn an Hav, Elizabeth Stewart).

The legal complexities of what we know as ‘The Partnership’ resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding being adopted as the basis of the co-operation between the various interested parties, as a formal ‘partnership’ would not have been legally possible. However, the name ‘The Cornish Language Partnership’ continues to be used as a matter of convenience.

The Committee of Experts from the Council of Europe, which had visited Cornwall for the first time in December 2005, recognised in its report the importance of training teachers and the need for further investment in the development of opportunities to learn the language. To this end, the Cornish Language Board held its third Teacher Training Day in July. The Department for Education and Science (DfES) has been co-operating with the Development Manager in working towards the teaching of Cornish in schools as part of the Asset Languages ‘Language Ladder’ programme alongside Welsh and Irish. This will mean that from September this year 2007 secondary schools that teach Cornish will have a system of assessment and accreditation which will be extended to primary schools in 2010. This should encourage more schools, colleges and adult education establishments to develop the resources—teachers, books etc—to provide this service to the community. Asset Languages has, with the facilitation of the Partnership, set up a working party to prepare the assessment materials required from January 2008. This working party initially includes members of the Cornish Language Board who will eventually be joined by others with the necessary expertise as the work progresses.

Bi-Lingual sign

Baseline research, vital for planning and the development of the language, has been set in train by the Partnership and conducted by independent researchers. It is essential we know how many speakers there are, their degree of competence, their preferred spelling system and their attitude to various aspects of the language. The information obtained from this research will guide future plans and in due course the revision of the Strategy and applications for long-term funding.

Settling the arguments about spelling—another issue underlined by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts—has been given priority by the Partnership. A second open conference was held in September, again at Tremough, with the title ‘Towards a Single Written Form — Starting the Process’. This gave the proponents of different spelling systems the opportunity to ‘set out their stalls’ and was well attended. The independent Commission of internationally respected linguists has now been formed and this year has begun its work. Submissions from some 200 individuals were received before the 31 March 2007 deadline, in addition to those from language organisations and other bodies, including Gorsedh Kernow. A copy of that submission, approved by Council, is available on the Gorsedh website or hard copy from me. A preliminary report from the Commission is expected early in July and a final report in September. To assist them in their work, a Linguistic Group has been set up to give technical advice to the Commission on specifically Cornish issues.

The Partnership has been at pains to be as open as possible to counter complaints about people ‘not knowing what is going on’ and ‘decisions being made behind closed doors’. All the Partnership meetings are open to the public, minutes were first published on the Cornwall Council website and now on the new Partnership website, hard copies can be sent out via a mailing list, there is a monthly newsletter (again in ‘hard’ or electronic form) and, of course, members of the Partnership are expected to report back to their respective bodies. Public Access Forums are held quarterly, so far in Truro, Liskeard, Penzance and Bodmin, where anyone can come and ask questions.

The Partnership has been running a translation service, supplying more than 100 translations (unfortunately in 4 forms at present) to the general public and to commercial organisations for purposes as diverse as restaurant menus and tattoos, house names and phrases to shout at rugby or soccer matches. A seminar for translators has been arranged for July with an experienced trainer who has worked in the Foreign Office Translation Department. It is hoped that this will be the first of a series to improve the skills of translators of Cornish and encourage a more professional approach.

With not much more than a year of the original 3 years left, the pressure is now on to find projects to speed on the development of Cornish and make sure the funding allocated is used to the best advantage. It is, after all, new money to be spent in the Cornish economy.

The Cornish Subcommittee of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages was formed in 1995 as a link between Cornish and the other native languages of the UK, and through the UK Committee a link to the European Union. It also broke new ground in conducting all its business in Cornish with simultaneous translation available. The Subcommittee took on the useful function of a forum where the various language groups could meet and talk, a facility that had not existed before. That particular function has now been taken over by the Partnership. Furthermore, the UK Committee has become moribund over the past year or two and thus the Subcommittee has been struggling to find a role for itself. If it is to be a specialist group building on its knowledge of European issues and funding, does it need to be so large and comprehensive, mirroring to a large extent the membership of the Partnership? Does it still have a role in the new landscape for Cornish? These are questions that need to be answered in co-operation with the Partnership.


Publications continue apace: two editions of the newly discovered play Bywnans Ke have appeared, one by the Cornish Language Board and more recently one by the University of Exeter Press, in association with the National Library of Wales. This must be a record for the shortest period of time from discovery to publication of any of the Cornish texts! Another Usborne publication has joined the two already on the market, this time a book of everyday phrases in Cornish. The Bible Translation Project (under the auspices of the Board and the Bishop of Truro’s Advisory Group) has produced the Book of Ecclesiastes, and the Book of Ruth will be with the printer next week. Several other books of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, including Daniel and Micah, are approaching completion. At the short service for St Petrok after this meeting a new edition of the Lennlyver Berr will be launched. This is a revision of the 1978 book of readings, with a commendation by the Bishop of Truro.

Aswonnans a Gernewek gans governans an RU yn-dann Chartour an Konsel Europek re janjyas yn tien an tirwel may trig an yeth. An bys hardh nowydh a worthybadowder hag igoredh mayth omgevyn a allsa bos kales kesvywa ganso, mes yth yw res porres ni dhe wul yndella mar mynnyn gwaynya an les may strivsyn ragdho—arghans arwoedhek ha skoedhyans soedhogel—dre’n akord politek a-lemmyn. Nebes a’n displegyansow a-gynsow, kepar ha provia apposyansow ha testennow skrifys yn skolyow, yw hunrosow devedhys ha bos gwir ha res yw dhyn godhvos gras dhe’n re a oberas yn tiwysek dres lies blydhen rag drehedhes aswonnans hag avonsya an yeth dhe’n savla mayth usi lemmyn. Ni a’gan beus hwath nebes kloesyow dh’aga fetha, kepar ha kowlwul dadhel an lytherennieth, mes y krysav y hyllyn gans gnas dha avonsya warbarth.

Recognition of Cornish by the UK government under the Council of Europe’s Charter has transformed the landscape in which the language lives. The brave new world of public accountability and openness in which we find ourselves can be difficult to come to terms with but it is vital that we do so if we want to gain the advantages we have been fighting for of significant funding and official support through the existing political consensus. Some of the recent developments, such as the provision of assessment and certification in schools, are dreams come true and we must pay tribute to those who have worked so hard over the years to achieve recognition and to move the language forward to its present position. We still have some difficult hurdles to overcome, such as finalising the spelling debate, but I believe that with goodwill we can move forward together.

CARADOK, Kannas Gorsedh Kernow dhe’n Keskowethyans. 02.06.2007

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