Cornish Language Weekend

That’s why I’m focussing on Cornish — I absolutely love languages too, but one new one at a time is enough for me! :smile: I chose Cornish because I’ve wished for years that I could help to save an endangered language, and when I realised that Cornish had been revived and it’s a language that some of my ancestors (way way back) would have spoken… :smiley:


And? Did you make it, @Courtenay? How was it?

Hi everyone,

I’m so sorry I’ve neglected this forum and haven’t come back to answer @philipnewton’s question!

The Pennseythun Gernewek (Cornish Language Weekend) was WONDERFUL! There were probably more than 100 people in attendance, of all ages, too, which was a delight to see — families with small children, young adults, working people, retirees, the whole spectrum. Several different nationalities involved, too, including a few Breton and German visitors! Kernewek attracts a much wider range of people than I’d expected, which is very heartening.

There were classes during the weekend for all the different levels (along with a playgroup for the little kids) — complete beginners, first grade (my level), lower (second grade), middle (third grade), advanced (fourth grade), and fluent speakers , so everyone fitted in. Plenty of time to socialise, too. The hotel was a bit run down but they offered a decent price for the weekend, and the food was very good.

As well as the classes, we had a walk on the Saturday to visit a historic set of cottages that are now a museum, and entertainment during both evenings. On Friday we had a concert with songs from a Cornish language choir (Keur heb Hanow) and a singer/songwriter duo (Tir ha Taves). Saturday evening we learned some traditional Cornish dances with a live band and caller, followed by a sing-along session for everyone led by Revd Jane Kneebone, singing folksongs in Kernewek. Jane also held a short Sunday morning prayer service in Kernewek for anyone who wanted to attend.

One very interesting session we had was a talk from Stephen Gadd, co-author of this new book about Robert Victor Walling, one of the early Cornish language revivalists who hand-wrote his own magazine entirely in Cornish while in hospital during WWI. (All talks/speeches during the Pennseythun were given in Cornish with English translation, so we novices could hear the language spoken while not missing out on any of the information! :smile:) There was a very active bookstall throughout the weekend with a big range of Cornish language publications, textbooks and other items.

We finished the weekend with a rousing rendition of Bro Goth Agan Tasow (“Old Land of Our Fathers”, the unofficial Cornish national anthem) and of course a shout of “Kernow Bys Vykken!” (“Cornwall Forever!”) :smiley:

For anyone who’s interested in attending next year (it’s held in early April each year as far as I know), I would highly, highly recommend it. It was full of fun and friendliness and I met lots of new people — when you study a language that isn’t commonly known, it’s a real buzz to be with and get to know others who share the same interest. There’s a real sense of community among Kernewek speakers, probably because there aren’t that many of us, so it’s good to stick together. :wink:


Sounds like a really wonderful occasion :star: :star2:

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I asked about the next event and it’s the weekend of 7th April 2017. I hope to go. I speak several other languages but I am really interested in minority languages. Gaelic died out in my family so I have been learning it and I should finish my Scottish Higher in February then I was planning to have a break from studies and do some Cornish in April.


That’s excellent — hope to see you there, as I’m planning to go next year as well! :smile:

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Next years details are online,it’s a great weekend and I recommend it for all levels including those with no knowledge at all!


It’s a great weekend indeed! :grinning: I’ll be going next year as well.

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I’m going to be there too - I felt too new to the language to go last year, but I’m going to gather my courage and go in 2017. Also want to get to some of the Cornish Quest events in Penzance in February.


All levels are catered for, from complete beginners to fluent speakers :grinning:


I’ve just got back from a week in “Kerra Kernow”, including the Cornish Language Weekend in Newquay — the second time I’ve attended, and just as much worth it as the first time. Especially for someone like me who can’t currently attend classes in person and doesn’t often get the chance to speak directly with other Kernewegoryon, it was just a real buzz to be surrounded by others who are learning and helping to revive this wonderful indigenous language. As always, there were activities for young kids, for absolute beginners and for all other levels up to fluent speakers. (At one stage the fluent group had a session on writing songs in Cornish — my own class was next door and several of us couldn’t help cracking up as we heard the unmistakable strains of “Yesterday” in Kernewek… :grin:)

I was in the 2nd grade group this year (I’m not currently studying for exams, but am wanting to see if I can be prepared for one by this time next year) and it was great to learn new words and new ways of putting them together, as well as to revise and practise things I’ve already learned. Plus there are so many nice people there and it’s just heaps of fun to try out as much Kernewek as you can (even if it’s only simple sentences or with some English words interspersed if needed) and to realise you can understand when someone answers! :grinning:

There was also an evening of singing in Kernewek and another evening of traditional Cornish dancing with a live band and professional instructors, and an informative history walk through Newquay in absolutely beautiful weather. And if anyone is thinking of going next year but isn’t quite convinced, I must just put in a word for the food at the Sandy Lodge Hotel — it was DELICIOUS. :yum: I almost wish the weekend could have lasted longer, but I’m so glad to have been part of it again!


And as a bonus — here’s an excellent video compilation of the weekend, made by Matthi Clarke from Radyo/Pellwolok An Gernewegva (scroll down a little for the video, or else it’s also available here on YouTube). Matthi and all the interviewees are Kernewegoryon freth (fluent Cornish speakers), so I must admit I can’t understand that much of what they’re saying, but the whole video gives you a good idea of how much fun we all had! :smiley:


Just took another look at Matthi’s YouTube channel and realised there’s a video from the Pennseythen with English subtitles, which is a big help for those of us who are still learning! :wink: It’s all about the project “Dasserghi Kernewek” (Reviving Cornish), which aims to collect and study the writings of Henry Jenner, the pioneer of the language revival movement. Very interesting to watch and I thought others here might also enjoy it.

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Good find - thanks for sharing, Courtenay! :star2:

Thanks so much for updating the post two years running. It’s inspiring. I’m in LA, so I’m not within travel/budget distance but maybe sometime soon. We have loads of Cornish persons in California, but I havent unearthed any speakers yet. Still searching though.

And if I get a little more Kernewek under my belt, I might try to host a self-study at our local Celtic Arts Center and see who I can draw out. I just need a bit more skills.


You’re welcome, Andalula! I guess I’m just hoping to spread the word a bit further and maybe inspire others to come along some day when they can.

Well, you never know… :smile: I’ve lived most of my life in Australia and I had no idea there were any Cornish speakers over there — but there are! :wink:

I’m just trying to think if there’s someone you could contact to find out if there are any known Cornish speakers in California. Here we are, after a quick Google search — do you know this organisation?

Or this one, for the whole of America:

It might be worth contacting either or both of those and asking if they have any info about Cornish language speakers or classes in your region. Of course if there aren’t any, you could be starting something new! :star2:

Oll an gwella (all the best)

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I never learnt Cornish but I know it’s a bit similar to Welsh. Is in Cornish “ll” to be said as in Welsh? Because I’ve read this but I’ve read it more like I would in Welsh.

Yes, it’s similar to Welsh (listening to Welsh as a Cornish speaker, one can pick out quite a few words), but Cornish doesn’t have the “ll” sound that Welsh has. “Oll” is just pronounced the way it looks, not with any lateral fricative (to use the technical term for blowing out over both sides of your tongue at once). :wink:

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Hi again. Im familliar with both orgs, and I have a single contact in both of them – mystery author, Jill Amadio – shameless plug to a Sister in Crime. According to her, no one actually speaks Kernewek at first glance, but she’s looking deeper. I told her about SSI and she was extrmemly excited to learn about it, about the format, and about how well I thought it worked.

I do have an ill formed plan to start a self-study gathering one day at our local Celtic Arts Center. But I think it would be better if I could lead by example and get a little better at speaking it first. I’ve been handling some serious life stuff but soon I need to form an action plan to level up.

Is there news from your neck of the woods as to whether the Language Council will get it’s funding back? I dont want to go down a political rabbit hole, but I saw some press in recent months about finding being granted, but talk of a strategic plan or budget amount seemed kind of etherial, in the national press anyway. Maybe insiders know more. Maybe they’ll fund an SSi Level II. Maybe I can level up by starting a kickstarter and contacting every California Celt in … California.

Does gwella in ‘an gwella’ sound simillar to ‘gwelles?’

OAG, right back at ya.


Dydh da!

As I’m sure you know, Pennseythen Gernewek is online this year, as is so much else. It’s happening this weekend, Fri April 9th, 2021, etc.
I’ve signed up to the Grade One classes as I’ve been learning in an online evening class this year (in addition to SSiC of course).
I’m excited and nervous, but anticipating a lot of fun. :grin: Stay well oll.