Session 76: Ystafell 4
Cornish: linguistics and pedagogy

Chair: Esther Le Mair

The usage and teaching of post-SWF Cornish

Samuel Brown
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu

The revived Cornish language has met many obstacles since the publication Henry Jenner’s 1904 Handbook of the Cornish Language, one of which is corpus planning and the standardization of its orthography.  This is clear in the plurality of orthographies which exist for Cornish:  Unified Cornish (Nance 1929), Kernewek Kemmyn (George 1986), Late Cornish (Gendall 1988) and Unified Cornish Revised (Williams 1995). Additionally, the governmentally-supported Standard Written Form was created in 2008 and revised in 2013.  While there is research regarding the extent of the usage of these Cornish varieties pre-SWF (McKinnon 2000, Wimmer 2007, Burley 2008), the post-SWF situation is not at all clear with the single existing survey not being interested in this issue (Cornish Language Partnership 2013). To begin to address this problem, Szczepankiewicz and Brown have conducted a preliminary survey directed at teachers of the Cornish language. Disseminated to individual teachers as well as language organizations, the questionnaire attracted 34 responses. The questions regarded the teachers’ age, nationality, place of residence, their knowledge, usage, and teaching of Cornish as well as their opinions regarding existing pedagogical materials. The results show that, while SWF has gained some ground, it is by no means dominant in either usage or teaching.

Quantifying the development of post-tonic vowels in Cornish

Ken George
Kesva an Taves Kernewek (Cornish Language Board)

Almost all cases of post-tonic vowels in the corpus of traditional Cornish were extracted from the texts and placed in a series of spreadsheets.  Their development was then traced from Old Cornish through Middle to Late Cornish, by counting the numbers of cases in each text.

The analysis shows that the number of post-tonic vowels was progressively reduced through a series of mergers, until in Late Cornish only two were left.  The nature and dating of the mergers is examined in detail, which throws light on the date of the play Beunans Ke.

This picture of progressive reduction in the inventory of post-tonic vowels is in direct contrast to that presented by Nicholas Williams, who maintains that after the twelfth century "all unstressed vowels tended to become schwa".


The Cornish Standard Written Form: a discourse analysis

Piotr Szczepankiewicz
AMU w Poznaniu

The status of a language in Western civilization is often judged based upon the existence of its standard orthography (Anderson 2006). It is in this socio-political context that the revival of the Cornish language began. It has met many obstacles. A state of multigraphia (Lüpke 2011) persisted up until the twenty-first century but was considered untenable. The development of the Standard Written Form began in 2007 and ended in 2008, with a revision of the orthography carried out in 2013. The aim of the new orthographical project was to develop a standard orthography for the use of the government but the help of the whole community was enlisted. Throughout the development process users of the message board commented on their expectations and hopes regarding the new standard orthography as well as voiced their opinions on the quality of work and community collaboration of the Commission responsible for the process. Drawing upon Coupland’s framework of authenticity (2003, 2010) as well as discourse analysis theory (Fairclough and Wodak 1997; Van Dijk 2001) the author analyzed the posts written between 2005 and 2013 by Cornish language users and activists. The posts elicit the bones of contention regarding the new governmental orthography as well as how the target user base felt disheartened by the way the process proceeded. In the context of a language revival process, it is of paramount importance to observe community reactions to a top-down language planning process.