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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Cornish film revives language campaign
Bitter Sweet film still
The film Bitter Sweet is being used to promote Cornish
A unique feature film is being used to revive a campaign to have the Cornish language officially recognised in Europe.

Campaigners are angry that the UK Government refused to include it in a list of minority languages, alongside Welsh, Gaelic and Ulster Scottish.

The new film, Bitter Sweet (Hwerow Hweg) is the first ever made entirely in the Cornish language, though an English version was shot at the same time.

It is to be given its Cornish premiere on Friday at Pennseyphun Gernewek, a language weekend being held at Pentewan Sands holiday park.

Cornish bards
Cornish culture is in resurgence
It tells the story of two lovers who are torn apart by drugs.

The film was first shown at the House of Commons last month, to persuade MPs to support the campaign for recognition.

Some promised to raise the issue with colleagues at Strasbourg.

The Cornish Language Fellowship (Kesva an Taves Kernewek) is pressing for inclusion in the European Union's Charter for Minority Languages.

Talking peace

It says recognition would make funding available.

Pol Hodge, of the language fellowship (CLF), said: "We believe the government signed the charter in order to get the peace process going in Northern Ireland, because they took the extraordinary step of recognising Ulster Scottish."

The level of activity in the Cornish language is phenomenal

Pol Hodge, Cornish Language Fellowship
St Ives MP Andrew George raised the exclusion of Cornish in the Commons.

As a result the government commissioned a report from Professor Ken MacKinnon, said Mr Hodge.

"In the year 2000 he came down and he was amazed to find out how much was going on, considering our lack of funding.

'Not dead'

"The level of activity in the Cornish language is phenomenal."

But the government's final version of the report did not recommend inclusion in the charter.

Helen Rule in Bitter Sweet
Helen Rule plays a lover in Bitter Sweet
Mr Hodge acknowledged that Cornish might be perceived as a dead language that had been revived, but said it was a false impression.

Dolly Pentreath, who died in 1777, was widely believed to be the last true Cornish speaker.

The modern revival began in 1904 when Henry Jenner, Cornwall's first Grand Bard, published the Cornish Language Handbook.

But Mr Hodge said: "All the way through the 1800s there were people who could read the great pieces of literature in Cornish and write in the language themselves."

Last month, the first full Cornish version of the New Testament went on sale after being translated by a Celtic scholar in Ireland.

See also:

19 Mar 02 | England
Blueprint for Cornish parliament
12 Mar 02 | England
Cornwall's Bitter Sweet premiere
11 Dec 01 | England
Blair gets Cornish assembly call
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