Monday, 26 February 2018

Brexit: and the future of the Cornish language

There is quite a fight going on next door in Cornwall over Brexit:
Cornwall MP Derek Thomas defends signing Theresa May 'ransom note' for hard Brexit - Cornwall Live

Including over fishing:

Cornish fishermen fear catch in Brexit talks
Enthusiastic Leave supporters feel they will be left with raw deal to protect the City

A fisherman off the coast of Newlyn. Some sailed hundreds of miles days before the EU referendum to join a pro-Brexit flotilla on the Thames © Bloomberg

Joshua Chaffin in Newlyn FEBRUARY 18, 2018

Fishermen from the Cornish port of Newlyn were among the most spirited Brexiters. Days before Britain’s 2016 EU referendum, some sailed more than 300 miles from England’s westernmost reaches to join a pro-Brexit flotilla on the Thames — their presence intended as a visceral reminder of working people hard done by the EU’s overweening regulation.

Soon they will find out whether it was all worth it. As Britain tries to negotiate a two-year transition agreement with Brussels that is supposed to provide a smooth path for industry after the country leaves the EU next year, its fishermen fear they may be getting a raw deal.

Cornish fishermen fear catch in Brexit talks - Financial Times
Brexit news: EU forces 84% of fish caught off Cornish coast to FRANCE | Politics | News | Express.co.uk

And farming:

Brits try EU migrants' vegetable picking jobs in Cornwall - BBC News
Winnowing EU migrants means rotting crops - Financial Times

And culture: 

Brexit threatens ancient tongue in Britain's southwest

By Stephen Beard
November 28, 2017

Loveday Jenkin, a leading Cornish language campaigner – standing next to the winding gear from a traditional Cornish tin mine. - Stephen Beard/Marketplace

Listen To The Story

Could one of the casualties of Brexit be the Cornish language? Much older than English, it is an offshoot of the Celtic tongue that was spoken across Britain when the Romans arrived in the first century B.C., and was driven to the periphery of the country after the Anglo-Saxon invasions began in the fifth century. Cornish is now spoken regularly by only a few hundred people in Britain’s most southerly county of Cornwall. But it has been making a comeback in recent years, some say, thanks to the European Union. Could that renaissance be in jeopardy?

“Brexit is a setback" said Loveday Jenkin, a leading campaigner for Cornish. “EU funding enabled us to set up a Cornish language office to raise the profile of the language above being part of a subculture of a few people to something that is integral to the identity of Cornwall.” The EU funding has helped finance language classes, a translation service and even bilingual street signs in English and Cornish.

Jenkin and other language campaigners do not expect the British government to funnel cash into Cornish culture after Brexit to make up for any short fall from the EU.

“You can’t expect English people to see any value in the Cornish language,” said teacher and poet Paul Hodge. “They only think about Cornwall as a place to take a holiday. They just don’t care about us. The rest of the EU does care about us,” he said.

But could Britain’s private sector ride to the rescue? Other advocates for Cornish argue that there is a good commercial case for supporting the language. As a poor but scenically beautiful county, Cornwall is utterly dependent on tourism; having its own unique language could help in the marketing.

“It’s a way of branding and promoting Cornwall, both in the U.K. and internationally, as a place apart,” claimed Garry Tregidga, head of the Institute of Cornish Studies.

Business is beginning to get the message. A local ice cream company is already using the language as a marketing tool, employing English and Cornish in its TV ads that have been aired across the U.K. Jenkin said that money is starting to trickle in from corporate sponsorship, too.

“Business is starting to realize the value of the language and starting to support it a bit. With the decline in government and taxpayers’ money, the language community is looking more to business to help support things that we’re doing,” she said.

While she laments the loss of public funding, Jenkin and the other enthusiasts for Cornish are confident that their language will not die.

After all, it has survived the Roman conquest, the Anglo-Saxon invasion and the suffocating dominance of English. But it’s still alive and adapting. It’s even coined a word for the latest threat: “Bretonborth” – the Cornish for Brexit.

Brexit threatens ancient tongue in Britain's southwest - Marketplace

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