I am going to say up front that I am not 100% in opposition to Cornish being
recognized. However, I do feel that some questions need to be addressed.
First off, I do think that the issue of the lack of any native speakers is
important. James mentioned other efforts, particularly in North America to
revitalize the languages of Native Americans. I believe that the question of
artificiality will still linger, though.
And the real issue that I think needs to be gotten at is what the point of
these efforts is. This is a tough question which this forum should probably
consider at some length. I believe, in working on historical cultures, that
language is one of the most important elements in defining/nurturing a
culture, especially after it has lost the political independence associated
with the lands it once held. Non-Celtic European groups that come to mind
which support this concept are Jews, Sards, Basques, et al.
But what happens to a culture once it has lost its language? What's left?
Customs could be one answer, be these are mutable over time. Ways of life
(i.e., not just customs or folk ways, but occupations, ways of doing things
and the material elements of the culture) could also be considered--and here
many Native Americans (despite the proliferation of casinos) can claim to have
preserved in some form their ancient ways of life. Can the Cornish? Laws
could be another, but the Cornish lost their laws over a thousand years ago.
Can we fall back on lineage--on some sense of community that desires some form
of distinctiveness (or a resurection of that distinctiveness)? Maybe. But if
that's the case, is language the answer?
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>This is an important issue. The oficial recognition of Cornish could have a
>wide variety of implications within British law. The primary implication of
>this decision (as I see it)is that it is a major step in getting the Cornish
>recognized as a minority group within the UK, which currently they are not.
>This will offer real protection against discrimination, which does occur
>against the Cornish.
>I will say that there *is*, to my mind, a difference between the type of
>language communities to which you are referring in Wales, Ireland and the
>Highlands and Islands, and those language communities which are emerging in
>Cornwall and Mann. Nevertheless, I would not consider emergent language
>communities more artificial (therefore unworthy of funding), just different.
>Besides, the demographics of cornish speakers are now changing. Cornish is
>now being spoken in the home, in the pub and in the street. Funding will
>ensure that this will continue, and that resources will be better and
>better. People *want* to learn Cornish, recognition and funding will help
>them do so.
>Funding for minority languages within the context of the European Union can
>have a variety of economic benefits, primarily because it emphasizes
>cultural difference which is actually seen to be an economic driver.
>Cornwall badly needs this investment, and if this helps to shape a more
>viable economic strategy for the territory by unlocking funding, that will
>be wonderful. It certainly has worked for Ireland. Furthermore, funding
>provides support for developing related industries. S4C is a wonderful
>example of how language based funding has helped to shape an industry and
>promote training in a variety of media.
>Really, this is a worthwhile victory.
>>Marion, a chara,
>>Thanks for posting this. I find the interest in the Cornish language to be
>>good sign that folks in Cornwall are still interested in keeping up their
>>However, I'm not sure that Cornish or Manx should go so far as to be
>>officially recognized as languages any more. There's an argument to be
>>that both languages died out some time ago (the last native Cornish speaker
>>died in the nineteenth century), and that any attempts to revitalize them
>>artificial. While there are areas in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany
>>where the native languages are still spoken as the primary language, should
>>official recognition be given to languages that have to be learned? This
>>not to say that funding should not be forthcoming, but I have my doubts...
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