Cornish (Standard Written Form: Kernewek or Kernowek) is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language family. It is a revived language, having become extinct as a living community language in Cornwall at the end of the 18th century. However, knowledge of Cornish, including speaking ability to a certain extent, continued to be passed on within families and by individuals, and a revival began in the early 20th century. The language has a growing number of second language speakers, and a very small number of families now raise children to speak revived Cornish as a first language. Cornish is currently recognised under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and the language is often described as an important part of Cornish identity, culture and heritage.
|Native to||United Kingdom|
|Extinct||end of 18th century|
|Revival||20th century (L2 users: 557 in 2011)|
|Standard Written Form|
|Regulated by||Cornish Language Partnership|
Along with Welsh and Breton, Cornish is descended from the Common Brittonic language spoken throughout much of Great Britain before the English language came to dominate. For centuries until it was pushed westwards by English, it was the main language of Cornwall, maintaining close links with its sister language Breton, with which it was mutually intelligible, perhaps even as long as Cornish continued to be spoken as a vernacular. Cornish continued to function as a common community language in parts of Cornwall until the mid 18th century. There is some evidence of knowledge of the language persisting into the 19th century, possibly almost overlapping the beginning of revival efforts.
A process to revive the language began in the early 20th century, and in 2010, UNESCO announced that its former classification of the language as "extinct" was "no longer accurate." Since the revival of the language, some Cornish textbooks and works of literature have been published, and an increasing number of people are studying the language. Recent developments include Cornish music, independent films and children's books. A small number of people in Cornwall have been brought up to be bilingual native speakers, and the language is taught in schools. The first Cornish-language day care opened in 2010.