And now for something completely different

February 27, 2009

Categories: General, Publications and Resources

Download PDF

I know this is off-topic, but as there are some notables in the daff world from Cornwall, I thought this might be of interest

Anyways – what is the Cornish word for ‘daffodil’ ? Is there one?

If you’re interested, on the BBC web site they have a pod cast of a short story read in English, common Cornish and modern Cornish…


Cornish language extinct, says UN

The Cornish language has been branded "extinct" by linguistic experts, sparking protests from speakers.

Thirty linguists worked on Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, compiled by United Nations group Unesco. They also said Manx Gaelic was extinct.

Cornish is believed to have died out as a first language in 1777.

But the Cornish Language Partnership says the number of speakers has risen in the past 20 years and there should be a section for revitalised languages.

The Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, published by Unesco, the cultural section of the United Nations, features about 2,500 dialects.

There are thought to be about 300 fluent speakers of Cornish.


But Jenefer Lowe, development manager of the Cornish Language Partnership, said there were thousands who had a "smattering" of the language.

"Saying Cornish is extinct implies there are no speakers and the language is dead, which it isn’t," she said.

"Unesco’s study doesn’t take into account languages which have growing numbers of speakers and in the past 20 years the revival of Cornish has really gathered momentum."

Last year the partnership agreed a single written form of Cornish which brought together several different forms of the language.

Mrs Lowe said: "There’s no category for a language that is revitalised and revived.

"What they need to do is add a category.

"It should be recognised that languages do revive and it’s a fluid state."

Christopher Moseley, an Australian linguist and editor-in-chief of the atlas, told BBC News he would consider a new classification.

He said: "I have always been optimistic about Cornish and Manx.

"There is a groundswell of interest in them, although the number of speakers is small.

"Perhaps in the next edition we shall have a ‘being revived’ category.

"[Cornish] is among a group of languages that turned out not to be extinct but merely sleeping."


4 responses to “And now for something completely different”

  1. Ron Scamp says:
    Greetings from Cornwall Now, not that I can speak any of our native tongue, the language is very much alive, thou not commonly spoken,I think it is more of a social interest.   The word for Daffodil is  A’fodyl or A’fodylys for several, and for narcissus it is Fyonen   and  Fyon for many.Best wishes form Cornwall.Gwella an gorhemmynadow dworth Kernow. Ron Falmouth
  2. Denis Dailey says:

    First. Let me make it clear. I love words and the spoken (or sung) language. Presumably, I come by it genetically since the Dalys were supposed to be Irish poets. However, I have failed 2 different Gaelic Language classes, Irish and Welsh.


    Regardless, I have been to Gael-talk areas of Ireland, Brittany and Cornwall and let me assure you, there are differences.  (I’m less sure about Brittany because French not English is usually the common denominator there and my French is on a par with my Gaelic – 2 failed French courses.)  I have not been to the Isle of Mann (I do have a Manx crown ith a daffodil on it), Scotland (I have a swatch of the family tartan – Combe-Thoms), Wales (I have a few Tenbys of course) or Albion (where ever that is) so I don’t know if the Cornish Gaelic is different than the Gaelic spoken those parts of the Gaelic World.


    One of the differences I noted was the form of agreement given to another’s statement of opinion or fact or a rhetorical question usually requiring an answer with an English equivalent of “yes.”   I can only give my phonetic idea of these since I have no clue how they would be spelled in English or Gaelic.


    Example: Would you like another beer?


    Brittany – Awh wee

    Cornwall – Ay yuh

    Ireland – Aye zhur


    I never found the equivalent of “no.”


    Like the English-speaking world, in spite of the differences, I’m reasonably sure speakers of Gaelic from any of these areas could make themselves understood in other parts of the Gaelic world, especially if they carried a visa card. After all, in spite of my Minnesotan English, I have been able to communicate with the Ramseys from New Zealand, the Watsons from Ireland, Ian Tyler from England, Ron Scamp from Cornwall, and even Becky Fox Matthews from Nashville. I’m giving it a real test this week as I head for the show in Dallas, Texas.

    Denis Dailey  St.Paul, Minnesota

  3. Phyllis Hess says:

    This weekend you will be in a foreign land for sure, but I know you will find the natives friendly; you should be able to understand some of them, they will offer the most wonderful hospitality, and the food will be good. You should return home with a healthy respect for the natives.
    Have fun and report on your experiences.
    Phyllis Hess

  4. J Drew Mc Farland says:

    In a message dated 3/1/2009 10:03:29 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  title= writes:
    Cornwall – Ay yuh

    Do you suppose that’s the source of the Mainer word “Ayuh”?  Which is of course sometimes means yes, but sometimes no, and mostly is just acknowledgment that the listener (or speaker) is alive. [I won’t even attempt to a phonetic spelling of ayuh].