“Official” Cornish orthography in the post-SWF era

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


As a revived language, Cornish has seen the development of multiple orthographies in order to combat accusations of a perceived lack of authenticity or academic rigour. After more than twenty years of debate over Cornish orthographies, recognition by the UK government under the terms of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2003 led to the creation of what was initially intended as a “single written form” for use in public inscriptions and other official contexts. However, the inevitable impossibility of finding a compromise that pleased opposing groups of speakers with greatly differing motivations and ideologies meant that the eventual “Standard Written Form” (SWF) in fact comprises two variants, known as Middle Cornish forms and Late Cornish forms, based on the corresponding stages of the traditional language. While it was initially stated that the two would be of equal status, this equilibrium has been hard to maintain in the ten years since the SWF was implemented: as the majority of Cornish speakers prefer Middle Cornish forms, the Late Cornish forms are less visible and are commonly perceived as “variants” of subordinate status. Examining such perceptions, as well as official materials and public inscriptions, this paper examines the position of the two “main forms” of the SWF in contemporary revived Cornish and offers some reflections on the effects of the (failed?) implementation of two official forms of equal status.
Period03 Nov 2018
Event titleTionól 2018: null
Event typeConference
LocationDublin, Ireland