University of Galway, Ireland
Cornish, spoken in south-western Britain until the 18th century, was alongside Breton and Welsh - an uninterrupted continuation of the ancient Brittonic language of Roman Britain. Cornish was never as numerically important as the other two languages, so that its neglect by Celtic linguists is understandable, however, its position immediately between Brittany and Wales, makes it particularly interesting from the point of view of the dialectal develoment of ancient Brittonic.
Since medieval times the domination of Englsih, the language of state, steadily eroded the hold of the Cornish language upon the higher echelons of Society, and led in the early 18th century to its disappearance as the language of a traditional homogeneous society. In the 20th century much interest has been shown in the language, an interest which has led to a revival of the language as a spoken medium amonst enthusiasts, though what precisely constitutes the relationship between the Cornish of learners in the 20th century and earlier forms of Cornish remains an unresolved question.
The author, who is a native Breton- and Welsh-speaker, gives a description of spoken Cornish of the 17th and early 18th centuries, a period of the language condemned by many - too peremtorily - as being degenerate, but a period which has left us the great majority of prose material in the language.
The study contains chapters on phonology, morphology and syntax, and texts with interlinear translation.
ISBN 9783895861222. Languages of the World/Materials 135. 60pp. 1998.