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Cornish

PHILIP PAYTON


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631220398.2000.x


Extract

A member of the * Brittonic subgroup of the * Celtic languages, Cornish is closely related to * Breton and more distantly to * Welsh . Cornish as a spoken vernacular had disappeared by the end of the 18th c., though there is some evidence to suggest the survival of fragments of popular knowledge of the language into the late 19th and perhaps even early 20th centuries, while individual words have survived into the contemporary Cornish dialect of English. A small but persistent revivalist movement has emerged in the 20th c. Old Cornish emerged as a result of the separation of SW Britain from other Celtic areas by the Saxon advance in the late 6th c. AD. Place-name evidence suggests that by the late 7th c. the Saxon advance (and with it the English language) had intruded into the far north-east of Cornwall. Meanwhile, in response to a complex series of events that is still imperfectly understood (but included pressure from both the Saxon advance and Irish colonization), a flow of emigrants from SW Britain to the Armorican peninsula ensured the development of close linguistic and cultural ties between Cornwall and Brittany in the early medieval period. In 926 the Athelstan settlement, which established the River Tamar as the border between Cornwall and Wessex, provided a political stability which allowed the survival of Cornwall as a territory and the Cornish (with their language) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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