Cornish language no longer extinct, says UN

The Cornish St Piran flag About 300 people speak Cornish fluently

Related Stories

The Cornish language, which had been branded extinct by linguistic experts, has been reclassified as "critically endangered" instead.

The new definition is included in the latest edition of the Atlas of the World's Languages in danger, compiled by the United Nations group Unesco.

The atlas's authors said the earlier definition was not a "true reflection" of the language's status.

The change has been welcomed by the Cornish Language Partnership (CLP).

The atlas entry for Cornwall now states: "Unesco is pleased to acknowledge that the term 'extinct' does not reflect the current situation for Cornish.

"This language is now classified as "critically endangered" and identified as being in process of revitalization."

The atlas is designed to highlight awareness of languages in danger around the world and was compiled by 30 linguists.

The "critically endangered" category is a new one.

Jenefer Lowe, from CLP, said: "The problem was that the atlas didn't have a category for us before.

"We're pleased that Unesco has recognised that people are speaking and using the language now."

"It validates the fact that good work is going on."

Cornish is believed to have died out as a first language in 1777.

Ms Lowe said there were now about 300 fluent speakers but "an awful lot more people than that" had a "smattering" of the language.

It is taught in a number of schools and is becoming increasingly popular for wedding speeches, house names and tattoos, according to CLP.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Weather

Truro

23 °C 16 °C

Features & Analysis

  • Dr Mahinder Watsa Dr Sex

    The wisecracking 90-year-old whose advice column is a cult hit


  • Payton McKinnonLeft behind

    Why do so many children die in hot cars?


  • Cooling towers at the Temelin nuclear power station, Czech Republic, 2011Nuclear links

    The EU's dependence on Russian-designed power plants


  • Tony Goldman graffiti in Wynwood.Graffiti's draw Watch

    How street art gave a Miami neighbourhood new life


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Kyoto.Falling for Kyoto

    Acclaimed writer Pico Iyer describes an enchanting first stroll through the city

Programmes

  • A Royal Opera House performanceThe Travel Show Watch

    How the cast at the Royal Opera House are suited and booted for their spectacular stage shows

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.