Cornish - Orientation



Cornwall, the southwesternmost county of England, was so long isolated from the rest of the country by virtue of its geography that its linguistic and cultural traditions developed under a unique set of pressures and influences. The name "Cornwall" refers to the geographic entity, while "Cornish" is the name of the indigenous language—a Brythonic dialect of the Celtic Family, related to Welsh. At its height it is estimated that there were no more than 30,000 native Cornish speakers, restricted to the geographic confines of the Cornish peninsula. As early as the tenth and eleventh centuries, the effects of Anglicization were strongly noticeable, and the Cornish tongue soon came to be thought of as the speech of the uneducated, unlike the situation in Wales where the indigenous tongue retained some cachet as a language of poetry and of erudition. The language became extinct in the vernacular with the death of the last fluent native speaker in 1777, but it has profited in this century from a Cornish cultural revival, and it has begun to be taught in the schools. For all Cornish speakers of today, however, English is the first language.

Cornwall is technically a peninsula, but the landmass is almost completely separated from the remainder of the Country by the River Tamar, and it boasts the longest coastline of all the English counties.


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