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Cornish lingo gets standard written form

Factions get their orthographic act together

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Supporters of the Cornish language have, following "more than two years of passionate negotiations", agreed on an essential for official recognition of and funding for their tongue - a "Standard Written Form" (SWF) designed to unify the disparate versions of the revived lingo.

According to the Telegraph, the last native Cornish speaker, Dorothy Pentreath, died in 1777 at Mousehole. In the early 20th century, the language was raised from the grave and currently boasts around 300 fluent speakers.

However, in resurrecting Cornish, enthusiasts deployed "various sources from different eras", leading to several written versions, including Modern Cornish, Unified Cornish, Unified Cornish Revised, Kernewek Dasunys, Kernewek Kemmyn and Kernowak Standard.

The matter was finally resolved by a linguistic SWAT team led by Norwegian Trond Trosterud. Working with the Cornish Language Partnership (CLP), it was able to largely satisfy the rival factions who voted earlier this month to ratify a SWF Specification (pdf).

Cornish speaker and CLP development officer, Jenefer Lowe, said: "There were scholastic disagreements and some pretty firmly held opinions but we managed to reach agreement in the end. The standard form draws on the forms already in existence. This means that users of any form will find much that is familiar, alongside some differences."

The agreement paves the way for EU cash in support of the Cornish revival, and the SWF will now be rolled out across "brochures, pamphlets and on street signs". ®

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