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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 16:24 GMT
Cornish gains official recognition
Bude Bay in Cornwall
More than 3,000 people have knowledge of Cornish
Champions of the Cornish language are celebrating the news that it is to join Welsh and Gaelic as a recognised regional language under a European Charter.

After an independent academic study the Government has decided to recognise Cornish as a protected and promoted language and will now register the decision with the Council of Europe.

It means that Cornish will join Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots and Ulster Scots under the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages, which commits the Government to recognising and respecting them.

Cornish, a Celtic language closely related to Welsh and Breton, is one of the oldest in Europe.

Symbolic importance

Matthew Clarke of the Cornish Language Fellowship said it was "the most important day in the history of the Cornish language".

"It means that Cornish will be afforded a measure of protection and proves that it is a living language," he said.

Minister for Local Government and the Regions Nick Raynsford called the move a "positive step in acknowledging the symbolic importance the language has for Cornish identity and heritage".

"The purpose of the Charter is to protect and promote the historical, regional or minority languages of Europe," he said.

A road sign in both English and Cornish
Cornish is now a recognised regional language
"Officials will be initiating discussion with Cornwall County Council and Cornish language organisations in Cornwall to ensure the views of Cornish speakers and people wanting to learn Cornish are taken into account in implementing the Charter."

Mr Raynsford was responding to a written question from St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George.

According to latest estimates, about 3,500 people have knowledge of the language, an estimated 500 use it and a further 100 are fluent speakers.

Cornish died out in the late 19th Century but was revived during the 20th Century following the work of Henry Jenner who published a pamphlet in 1908 promoting its use.


Click here to go to BBC Cornwall
See also:

09 Oct 02 | England
22 Jul 02 | England
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