Cornish language communities online?

Phew! I was starting to think I might be going insane (Warning : Cornish can do that!) :wink:
If I can remember my old P/W I´ll log on and leave a test message, seeing as the board does in fact exist outside of my imagination.

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Either that, or we’re both equally insane. :sunglasses:

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Nynz ov vy sur, a pe henna nowodhow da … po drog ?

I´m not sure if that would be good news or bad (i.e. us being stuck in an alternative reality together)

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Gwirvos arall… hag ynno pubonan a gews Kernewek?? :grinning:

Jowl! My re beu ena unnweyth … dhe wir, ny vynnowgh moz di!

(mild expletive) I´ve been there once … you really don´t want to go there! :wink:

Prag ny vynnav? :slight_smile:

Mirewgh orth nebez a´n negesow y´n rol. Dres oll an re a-dro dhe´n yeth. Ena, my a gwryz, hwi a wra konvedhez … martesen?

Take a look at a few of the messages in the list. Especially the ones about the language. Then, I believe, you will understand … perhaps?

Hmmm… I’m assuming you mean the long-standing squabbles over spelling systems and elements of grammar? :grin: For a relative newcomer like me, that’s annoying, but it’s really not so bad. It’s no worse than the differences between dialects of English (British vs American etc.) — so long as we can all still understand each other, it’s not worth drawing battle lines over, surely?

The very fact that there ARE variations in Revived Cornish shows that it really is a living language, not a museum piece. And since it is a living language, it should continue to evolve naturally as more people use it together — shouldn’t it? :wink:

I really appreciated what Mike, one of the creators of the SSiCornish course, had to say in another thread here: What type of Cornish is on the SSiC course?


Unfortunately, there is a lot of well-meaning wishful thinking around Cornish.

I must, I think, correct or at least strongly qualify, your statement that Cornish is a living language which deserves to develop naturally in its own way. There is to the best of my knowledge, no Cornish-speaking community anywhere larger than the occasional isolated nuclear family. Nothing equivalent to the Falls Rd. Gaeltacht for example. There is no Cornish medium school, equivalent to the Manx medium school. So although there are hundreds of people who´ve learnt a bit of Cornish, and maybe by now a few dozen who would qualify as ´fluent´ (but that´s a very flexible term when applied to Cornish!) there is no ´natural´ language community within which Cornish can be left to evolve naturally.

The only reliable sources are the surviving texts, and these of course have to be interpreted, which is often not a trivial task. But they were at least, as far as we know, composed by fluent native speakers for their own use (apart from some of the Late Cornish texts).

Eventually you get complete pissed-off with people who insist that Cornish should sound like English, or dialect English. Not to mention the blow-in academics with their own personal axes to grind …

I will say no more. There is ample evidence on C24 alone, read it for yourself … if you´re tired of life :frowning:

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Dipping into the old C24 list I came across this from Tim Saunders (´Anselm´). It´s from March 2015, so may still be current :

¨Yeth an Werin Kardydh – carfan o garedigion y Gernyweg sy’n cwrdd yn y Mochyn Du, Gerddi Soffia, [Caerdydd], nos Fawrth gyntaf bob mis. Croeso atom ni!

Yeth an Werin Kardydh – a group of lovers of the Cornish language, meeting on the first Tuesday of the month in the Mochyn Du, Sophia Gardens, [Cardiff]. You are more than welcome to join us!¨

Or there’s this:

There are at least ten Yeth an Werin (informal Cornish conversation groups) currently active and meeting at least once a month — most of them in Cornwall, other than the Cardiff one, which is indeed still going. There are also some Cornish speakers in London who don’t yet have regular meetings but are hoping to in future (I caught up with some of them recently). As far as I know, none of them have yet tried having Skype sessions or other online versions, but it’s not impossible that that might happen… :slight_smile:

There are also regular music sessions, Cornish language playgroups for children, Cornish language church services and more… again, mostly in Cornwall rather than online, but at least they’re happening! :smile: I’ve attended a number of these events when I’ve been over there and always found them very enjoyable and welcoming.


The London lot use to meet at the City Lit (if that means anything to anyone), where there were also classes.

If there are playgroups (in the plural) now that´s good, there only used to be one.

Y-an-W gatherings are usually weekly of an evening in a pub, except these days it´s hard to find a quiet pub what with piped music etc. Also probably puts off people who aren´t into pubs for whatever reason. They´re all over, but a bit patchy, some are well attended, others depend on a handful of regulars turning up.

There are classes all over too. The problem I found, which I imagine you get in Wales too, is that many of the people who go to classes (sometimes for years!) never seem to turn up at events and gatherings etc. where they could actually use the language.

What a disappointment! :wink:

That sounds great, actually. Nice to know.

I used to run a group for Welsh learners, to give people a bit of a chance to practice if their confidence wasn’t up to speaking to native Welsh speakers or anyone more fluent than them.
The “finding a quiet pub” thing was certainly a ‘thing’, but by no means a deal breaker. And yes, you will only attract people who will go to pubs, but then coffee mornings will only attract people who would go to coffee mornings! You will never attract everyone to one of these things.
And having a handful of regulars is a good thing, I found! It allowed other people to turn up as and when.

You sound rather down about the meetings, yourself. Is it your recent experience that they are getting harder to run, or have you always felt this way?

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Well, actually I´ve been out of the loop for a bit. It´s a small world but once you step outside it becomes invisible almost. My experiences of Y-an-W conversation groups, as a regular member are as follows:

When I lived in the far West I attended one in Penzance/Pennsans. There were really only three of us most of the time, and it got so that we rang each other up to check who was coming, and if we couldn´t all make it, it was simply cancelled. And yet there was a regular weekly night class in PZ, with a dozen or more attendees.

In East Cornwall, there used to be a regular and well attended Y-an-W at pub near Liskeard/Lyskerris station. It even had a Cornish name at the time, Tavern an Karow. But then it all somehow fell apart. Several key people some who lived within walking distance of the pub moved away, the pub changed hands and is now ¨The Old Stag¨, so maybe the management weren´t too happy with the idea. Anyway afaik it all petered out. Nothing is listed on the Events Calendar someone linked to above.

Felly, dyna fy chwedl i / Ottena ow hwedhel vy.


Ah, the best way I found if doing it was to simply go along to the pub on a certain day and not worry about who was coming. Sometimes five, sometimes one other, occasionally fifteen, very occasionally none. The point was, though, that even if no one turned up it wasn’t a problem if the one running it likes the pub!

I found myself that even if just one person turned up the night was worthwhile. Two people is enough for a conversation, to have a worthwhile night. It’s great when there are loads of people, but it doesn’t necessarily help the individuals who turn up any more.

I never worried about the numbers, and certainly never worried about class members not turning up- each to their own, people will find their own way of using a language if they want to, these things are just an option. As soon as you start talking about numbers being a “success” or “failure”, of asking why people don’t come along to it as they “should”, then you turn a pleasant, relaxed social night out into an unpleasant chore- for everybody, the ones coming and the ones running it. And only a small minority of people like that sort of thing. (And there are some who do! And good luck to them. But occasions run like that aren’t ones I would want to attend.)

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Again I agree with most of that, but I´d say the ideal situation for beginners with just ´the basics´ is a group of maybe 6-8 of which about half are pretty fluent. That way most of the vocabulary you need for the subject under discussion will already be flying around and you can, as it were, ¨snatch the words out of the air¨. Especially useful at the stage where you recognise many more words than you can actively remember.

Pubs are OK, and somehow became the standard venue in Kernow, but it would be nice to meet in other places, e.g. a suitable café or whatever. Or a child-friendly location for people to bring their kids along, I´m sure there are many possibilities, but we somehow got fixated on pubs (admittedly a little alcohol can make people less nervous and more inclined to babble … in any language) :slight_smile:

Remember also that ´natural´ situations for speaking Cornish are practically non-existent apart from classes and Y-an-W´s, unless you happen to have a neighbour or workmate who´s learning the lingo, or you´re at one of the big annual events like the Gorsedh, the language w/e and one or two others. You can´t chat up the natives, not without using a medium anyway! Awoz aga boz marow pubhuni!

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I don’t know what the ideal situation for beginners is, but I do know that one to one chats with beginners in such situations seemed to help!
I’m not sure anyone at any level of learning is going to get the ideal situation. :blush:

Some people like evenings in pubs. Some people like coffee mornings in cafes. Some people like both. I have been to both but would only have an interest in running the former. But any venue is going to attract some people and put off others. That is inevitable.

The more the better, certainly. That’s how it works. But even if encouraging more and different people to have such things in more and different venues doesn’t work, that does not mean that the ones that are going are somehow a failure. :blush:

Thanks for your story and views!


I have to admit I was just about to ask this myself (especially after having my own optimistic comments so roundly slated earlier)…

I’m relatively new to the Cornish language scene, but can only say that the negativity and in-fighting I’d heard about (and seen on certain websites) is something I have not encountered at all among Cornish speakers in person — and I’ve met and spent time with quite a number of them in the past year and a half. I’m sure there are still those who are stuck on arguing over whose version of the language is best, but most serious proponents I’ve met (and there really are more than a handful :slight_smile: ) seem to be largely over that by now and are more concerned about welcoming anyone who loves the language and wants to learn and use it.

I’m familiar with two of the Yeth an Werin groups that are running at present. The one in St Austell meets every week on Monday mornings at a nice modern bistro that has a quiet little side room where the group can all meet around one big table with less background noise. There are two language bards who organise the group and several regulars who come most weeks, with more occasional visitors as well. Most of the regulars are doing Cornish classes and working towards exams.

The other Yeth an Werin I’ve visited is once a month on a Monday evening at a pub in the very quiet village of Porkellis. It was the sort of place where background noise would have been a problem if the pub was full, but being a Monday night, it was nowhere near. At least four of that group’s regular members are language bards, very fluent speakers and heavily involved in the Cornish language revival. They were really happy to include me directly in their conversation, which was almost entirely in Kernewek, and to explain anything I couldn’t understand, either in simpler terms or in English where necessary (but I soon found I was able to follow most of what they were saying anyway!). I’m sure they would be just as welcoming to anyone else, of any background or proficiency level, who cared enough about Kernewek to come along and join in.

That particular village, Porkellis (the nearest bigger town is Helston), is actually now the focus of a project to promote the use of the Cornish language in daily life, especially at the local school. The pub where the Yeth an Werin meets also promotes itself as a place where you can order your drinks in Cornish, and yes, they have taken the trouble to teach all their bar staff! :smile: All small beginnings, and it’s still true there is no settled community anywhere where all or most people speak Cornish regularly. But it’s from encounters with people like these that I would say (as do they) that Kernewek is a living language and it is growing and evolving, however gradually. It still needs a lot of help to do so, but there are plenty of people doing just that! :wink:


I should mention — another very successful and lively Cornish language event I’ve been to was this year’s Pennseythun Gernewek (Cornish Language Weekend), which is held every year in April (usually in Newquay) and has been going for a long time. There were over 100 people there of all different levels, from young children to fluent speakers, and it was just a fantastic time. There’s a thread about it here: Cornish Language Weekend