Learn Cornish

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About Cornish

Cornish (Kernewek) was once the main language spoken in Cornwall in the south west of Britain. A Celtic language, it became almost extinct in the 18th century – with the fishing community among the last to use it – but was revived in the 20th century. It is now classed as ‘critically endangered’ by UNESCO. It is closely related to Welsh and Breton and also has links to Scottish Gaelic, Manx and Irish. Speakers from the Cornish Language Board (Kesva An Taves Kernewek) worked with uTalk to record the language. 

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Planet Earth

Where is it spoken?

Cornwall

People Talking

Number of speakers

1,000

Family Tree

Language family

Indo-European

Celtic

Insular

Brythonic

Fun facts — Cornish

  • The colours of the sea (grey, blue and green) are all translated by the same word ‘glas’.
  • The literal translation of November (mis Du) is ‘the black month’ and December (mis Kevardhu) is ‘the very black month’.
  • There are different words for ‘time’ depending on whether it’s a time of day (eur), a meal time (prys) or a long time or a life time (termyn). There is even a different word for two or three times (gweyth).
  • A traditional Cornish greeting is "lowena dhywgh hwi!" meaning "joy be with you!".

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