These past few days I’ve been sampling the wondrous land of Kernow…. Or to those of you not yet fluent in Cornish; Cornwall!
By the way, there shall be a pointlessly long-winded and over-detailed attempt of a holiday memoir to follow shortly…. and for want of keeping the details of our petrol-consuming trip under wraps for the time being, I’ll avoid the diary entries and stories until later.
Our travels took us all but completely around the duchy beyond England and were graced with a warm, Celtic welcome and not-so-Celtic (and therefore awesome) weather. But for the ever Celtic-enthused nutter like myself, the trip was not just a chance to burn the nape of my neck in glorious sunshine…. it dawned a moment of realisation upon me!
However fantastic it was to see how far the Cornish language had progressed over the past few years, it seemed that Kernow herself refers not to the ancient nation that I hoped it would; but instead to a brand used to make money.
Cornish has been utilised not as a culturally-fulfilling means of communication, but as an advert to holiday makers. Wales, despite the genuine growing use of her language, is a victim of this too. I guess holiday-makers enjoy the fact that two languages and a bit of sun can hide the saddening truth that they are still in the British isles and not on a Saint Lucian beach drinking rum and pineapple juice.
I’m aware that as a statistic, Cornish speakers are ever growing in number, but it pains me to know that this carefully obvious yet largely subtle exploitation of a revived tongue has gripped her mother land. Even the following plaque commemorating Dolly Pentreath of Porthenys (Mousehole) as the last native speaker of pre-revived Cornish was described only in English…. the language that killed hers!
As for a positive outcome to my findings, I’d love to see Cornish language groups such as Maga Kernow recreate what’s currently going on in my native Wrecsam lately…. by choosing a town to be a bilingual one. This BBC article explains what’s going on these days!
With Welsh being pushed more and more in my birthplace, it’s been wonderful to see many new shops and establishments flourish due to their use of Welsh.
So let’s see if Cornwall can benefit too. I suggest Lanust (St Just) on the western coast of the peninsula as our start-point. They seem to have a decent (compared to most other areas of the duchy anyway) grasp on the language already.
Let’s now push on with bilingual signage and subtle use of the language all about the place.
Tourist attractions and businesses fancy exploitation of Cornish? Why not punch back with this gem of an idea?
Meur ras rag redya!
Smiley, sunburnt face🙂