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While cash-starved services vanish £180,000 is pledged on language

By West Briton  |  Posted: May 15, 2014

By Pat Rice

Comments (6)

IT IS obscene that £120,000 from central Government has been recently pledged to promote the Cornish language, in addition to the thousands already pledged by Cornwall Council.

Our public toilets are closing or charging – especially difficult for those in wheelchairs. So much for the Paralympic legacy. Our libraries are losing hours and staff, our bus fares are soaring and bus services being cut; our acutely mentally ill people and disabled children are being sent out of county away from their families for care no longer available here; Cornish wages are some of the lowest in the country, while house prices rise due to the desirability of second homes in Cornwall; and exorbitant rents remain unregulated.

These are the issues public money should be used to address – not funding the resurrection of a language declared extinct by the UN five years ago and spoken by no one as their first language.

Around 557 people claim to now speak it – a tiny fraction of Cornwall's population. Of course folk are free to learn any language they wish, be it Cornish, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Clingon or Middle Earth, but at a time of austerity the use of taxpayers' money for a tiny minority hobby cannot be justified.

There is a mistaken belief that pumping public money into this rebooted Cornish language will boost tourism, but Cornwall's identity does not, and never will, derive from its defunct language being plastered everywhere, to be understood by only a handful.

The proudly Welsh comedian Rob Brydon spoke recently of the many "annoying" Welsh signs now dominating his native country, despite only five per cent of people there understanding Welsh. It is worth noting that children in Wales fared badly in recent national literacy assessments. Could the same happen here?

The iconic Dylan Thomas did not write in Welsh, precisely because he wanted his work to be understood by a wide audience.

Tourists and settlers come to Cornwall for the grandeur of the scenery, the sea and beaches, the majestic tin mines, the coastal path, the beautiful gardens and woods and many other things which make it a wonderful place to live and visit.

Given the choice between seeing a road sign in Cornish or being able to visit a public toilet for free I think most of us would choose the latter.

Public money must be used more wisely.

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6 comments

  • lovepubs  |  May 17 2014, 2:58AM

    Spotted this the other day and it says it all for me. Life in Cornwall? It's what you choose to make of it. Cornwall, commonly seen as the land of pasties, miners, fishermen, tourists, pretty scenery and clotted cream. It's also a land of low wages, high cost of living, limited employment and, by some, as a place of limited prospects and somewhere to visit but not to live in. As far as being welcomed goes, that largely depends on the attitude of whoever's coming to live here. If you come with a positive attitude, if you want to give as well as take and really make yourself a part of the community, then most locals will give you the chance to do that and welcome you warmly. If, on the other hand, you're one of the stereotypical 'incomer' type who wants to turn up and dictate how things ought to be to people who've lived here all their lives when you turn up for one fortnight a year in your holiday home, then you'll likely be made very unwelcome. The stereotypical 'incomer' and the equally stereotypical Cornish redneck are two sides of the same coin. One wants everything altered to what suits them, regardless of the opinions of the locals or the impact upon them. The other views anybody from east of the River Tamar as a lower form of life to be tolerated if necessary and shunned if possible. Both exist in Cornwall. Both are here in far smaller numbers than their polar opposites might think (but in far larger numbers than either would like). Neither actually do anything to make Cornwall a better place and are consequently often disdained by the moderate majority. Belligerent incomers and green-ink rednecks aside, most of the people here are a fairly moderate and open-minded bunch. They're neither frothing bigots or obnoxious newbies. So, all in all, most of the time, if you want to live here then you'll give what you get. You won't always get what you give, but there are jerks everywhere including Cornwall. The irony being that the stereotypical incomer and the stereotypical redneck can't abide each other, but their common bond is that they're equally negative and, by most of us, equally sidelined. Robert Mark Walsh

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  • Kevrenor  |  May 17 2014, 2:21AM

    "Tourists and settlers come to Cornwall for the grandeur of the scenery, the sea and beaches, the majestic tin mines, the coastal path, the beautiful gardens and woods .." That says it all really ... not a mention of the indigenous people of the Duchy, the Cornish, nor their vibrant history, language, or culture. If money isn't available for what you want it spent on, lobby Westminster to return a fair share of taxes.

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  • kernowmaid77  |  May 17 2014, 12:20AM

    This gift from EU is priceless, The recognition for Our silenced survival under the attempt of Cultural repression, for hundreds of years Our Families have told each generation 'We are Cornish not English' We have be told by families that We had our own Language and history that was almost wiped out. This Cornish pride I have seen over and over in Cornish families and communities and it's because We always maintained our Cultural Identity as Cornish in Our homes and hearts. I don't really give 2 hoots about the people who continue to attempt to undermine what is rightfully Ours and view Our Culture as inferior . We are part of The Celt fringe and We will be supported in our need to speak our language, uncover Cornwall's true history and embrace our inheritance from our fore fathers CORNWALL

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  • Bearhunter  |  May 16 2014, 6:56PM

    Pat, The UN did indeed declare Cornish extinct and then the very next year realised their mistake and declared it 'endangered' And whilst you maybe right 557 people may speak Cornish as a communicative language, but everyday the whole population of Cornwall 500,000+ will utter or read at least one Cornish word (you included), they may not know the meaning of that word but they will at least say it or read it as many more places in Cornwall still retain their Cornish names than have English names. Wouldn't you at least like to know the meaning of the place you come from (Pow Saws)? Or travel too (Porth Emmit)? In a week when Ian Duncan-Smith had a breakfast which incidentally cost what I would spend on food for a week for 3 adults, and charged it to his expenses, I find it hard to agree with any of your points. The Cornish are recognised as a national minority, and as such it is the governments duty to look after all minorities including that groups religious and ethnic heritage. Ever heard of the phrase "Spend a penny" this came from the introduction of coin operated locks on public toilets. Such locks were first introduced, at a public toilet outside the Royal Exchange, London, in the 1850's. So maybe you have to "Spend 20 pennies" it's hardly a new concept. Bus fares rise because fuel prices rise, I expect you'll be first in line to write to the government to complain about the 60p per litre duty on diesel. As for the other points, again write to the government, ask them why they are building an aircraft carrier that can't actually take aircraft, or an 'icebreaker/ survey/spy ship', that must be for the icebergs off Lands End I assume.

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  • cweatherhill  |  May 16 2014, 6:43PM

    A correction to my last did not take for some reason. The word in line 8 should read "pales".

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  • cweatherhill  |  May 16 2014, 6:41PM

    To begin with, such attacks on Cornish ethnicity and culture are now unlawful under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The £120,000 (from central government, not Cornwall Council) is a mere pittance beside the huge sum being spent on, say, Ulster-Scots or the mega-millions spent on English which is already spoken by half of the world. It pales beside an average MP's expenses and against the sum about to be spent on tarting up Westminster. It lapesl beside the the money spent on unnecessary speed signs in ridiculous places, and the new bus stop signage, also unessential, installed over the last 2 years. Pat Rice is guilt y of believing Press spin. If he/she cared to examine the independent report commissioned by central government in 2001/2, it will be seen the number of Cornish speakers is a good deal more than the 557 quoted. If you are going to live in Cornwall, then respect its people, their ethnicity and culture, or don't come at all. Also replacement road-signs in bilingual form do not cost a penny more than they do in monolingual form. Fact!

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