On “Le Kov”, pop music meets the Cornish revival

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“STILL true the ancient saw will stand,” goes a Cornish-language adage recorded in the 17th century, “a tongueless man, though, lost his land.” The saying turned out to be somewhat prophetic. Cornish is a language descended from the Brittonic widely spoken in Britain before Anglo-Saxon invaders and their early English came to dominate. Cornish was pushed further and further down the Cornish peninsula over the last millennium, until the last known native speaker died in 1777. The language remained a fringe academic interest until two centuries later, when increasing numbers of people began studying the texts left behind, and bringing the language back into everyday life.

One of these revivalists was Timothy Saunders, a literary historian and Cornish-language poet, who taught the language to his daughter Gwenno, a musician. Now 36 years old, she is one of a handful of people that can claim to be a native Cornish speaker, although she was raised in Wales and released her first solo album mostly in Welsh, Cornish’s Brittonic cousin. On…Continue reading

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