Eyth bew
A Living Language

The Cornish Language: an Kernowek or an Kernewek.

The translation follows the Cornish version of the story.

Ny vith neffra gothvethys martesyn an tyrmyn a rusta merwell an eyth heynysek a Kernow, betegyns an clappyorion Kernowek a vewas martesyn bys an canblethan nawdegvas.

In 1773 Daines Barrington, sows skyentek an vssow heynysek a Kernow, a scryffas lyther then Society of Antiquarians in Lowndres ow cows an vyadg drys Kernow pan rug whelas clappier an Kernowek.

Y myth, eff a eth the porthenys in Penwith hag ena eff a vettyas Dolly Pentreath war an deweth. Blowth Dolly o adro the beswar vgans ha dew. Eff a leverys fatell rug clappya eyth a hevall thotha the vos kepar han Kymbrek. Eff a wellas dew gontravogesow a rug bewa in treven ogas, benynas coth kepar ha Dolly, ow wherthyn an pith a rug Dolly leverall. Y a leverys thotha y bosans y ow convethas an Kernowek mas na russans y glappya haga leverys the Barrington fatell rug Dolly drog y henwall dre reson eff the crysy na rug Dolly clappya an Kernowek.

Barrington a scryffas fatell o Dolly an clappyer dewetha an Kernowek mas mar teffa ha whelas pelha eff a russa truvya re erall in porthenys a rug clappya an Kernowek. In 1776 William Bodener a scryffas the Barrington ow leverys fatell rug eff y honyn clappya an Kernowek in weth. Eff a leverys fatell ew dean Boadjack an poscas hen ew poscader bohosek. Eff a thysquethas y bos ow cothfas an Kernowek ow scryffa naw leveransow in Kernowek. Eff a leverys in weth fatell wore eff peswar po pymp den arell in porthenys neb a wor clappya an Kernowek. Barrington a thynvynas an lyther ma then Society of Antiquaries in Lowndres neb a rug y thylla in 1779.

Blowth William Bodener in 1776 o 65 ha eff a vewas bys 1789. Martesyn y tho an clappyer dewetha an Kernowek mas Barrington a gowsys a thew den arell a rug clappya an Kernowek. Onen, John Nancarrow a Marhas Johan o 40 blethan a vlowth in 1777. Y thew leverys fatell alsa eff cows da an kernowek dyskys theworth an tyogow an tyrmyn may tho yowynk. An clappyer ma a vewas martesyn bys an dallathfas an cansblethan nawdegvas.

Kynthew anwothfas an tyrmyn a rug an eyth heynysek merwell in Kernow, an dallathfas an dasserhyans ew sure. Henry Jenner a thyllas lyver grammatek an Kernowek in 1904. An lyver ma a thallathas an dasserhyans an eyth neb vs ow vewa whath.


A Living Language - English Version

The exact time when Cornish ceased to be spoken as the traditional language of Cornwall may never be known, but its last fluent speakers may have lived until the early nineteenth century.

In 1773, an English antiquarian by the name of Daines Barrington wrote a letter to the Society of Antiquaries in London about his tour of 1768 through Cornwall in search of a speaker of Cornish.

On this tour, he travelled to Mousehole in the west of Cornwall and there he eventually came upon a certain Dolly Pentreath, aged about 82 at the time, who spoke, he said, 'in a language which sounded very like Welsh'. He noticed two neighbours who lived in the houses opposite, old women like Dolly Pentreath, laughing at what Dolly had said. They informed him that they could understand Cornish, but not speak it as Dolly could. Dolly was abusing him roundly for thinking that she could not speak Cornish.

Daines Barrington wrote of Dolly as the last speaker of Cornish, but if he had searched a little harder he would have found in Mousehole a number of other speakers of Cornish. A certain William Bodener informed Daines Barrington in a letter in 1776 that he also could speak Cornish, describing himself in the Cornish dialect of the region as a poor fisherman, dean Boadjack an poscas, literally, 'a man poor of the fish'. He demonstrated his knowledge of Cornish by writing nine sentences of satisfactory Cornish. He also said that he knew four or five other people in Mousehole who knew how to speak Cornish. Daines Barrington sent this communication to the Society of Antiquaries and it was published in 1779.

William Bodener was 65 in 1776 and lived until 1789. Some have called him the last speaker of Cornish, but Daines Barrington mentioned a couple of others who could speak Cornish. One of these, John Nancarrow 'of Market Jew' (marhas johan), was about 40 years of age in 1777. He could apparently converse in Cornish, having learned it from the country people as a youth. This speaker of Cornish may have lived until the early years of the nineteenth century.

Whatever may be the date of the demise of the native language of Cornwall, it is clear when the revival (an dasserhyans) of the language began. Henry Jenner published a grammar book on Cornish in 1904 and this began the revival of the language which is still underway today.

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