Jack - I agree with most of what you are saying. There are very strong economic reasons why we need to be able to speak some common commercial language, but there is nothing wrong with promoting old languages or even trying to create commercial links that will allow you to do business in them.
If you take your way of thinking to its logical conclusion, you might say, it's would be admirable of someone to speak German (or French, or whatever), but if they don't also know English that person is a romantic fool.
I don't buy that.
Toaste, ever the knee-jerk politically correct pro-multicult child of our education system says
"People have a right (and maybe even a duty) to preserve their ancestral culture and the world will be better off if they succeed"
I speak nine languages but not my ancestral language. As Renan says, we do not belong to our language but to ourselves. Each person including each immigrant can make his/her own choice about languages to learn in this world, for whatever reasons they feel valid.
As long as the place names are still alive then we in Cornwall use some Cornish every day. There are many of us who atempt to learn a little bit at a time as and when time allows....but it is not an easy language to learn! Everyone is aware that the language will never be the sole means of communicating...it last was parobably some time in the C17 in the far west of Cornwall (Kernow). However we should still retain what we can and by adding new words the language continues to be alive. After all that is what keeps English alive and vibrant.
The old woman referred to was Dolly Pentreath from Mousehole (actually pronounced Mouzel) near Penzance who it was reported shouted at the researcher in 1768 . Many of her neigbours clearly understood her jokes as they laughed along. She died in 1777. There were almost certainly others who retained some of the language in the years afterwards...the fishermen of Newlyn still counted in cornish into the early C20. While a man called William Bodinar was said to still retain a "traditional knowledge of the language and be able to converse (with whom?) in a variety of subjects" (Payton: A History of Cornwall).
Language defines a culture in many ways and is a way of looking a the world, not neccessarily in an insular way. As with all art forms it is something worth preserving.
I for one am delighted, as is most of Cornwall, that Lisa is standing up for us!
Mur ras ha dew genes (thank you and goodbye)
Students across the county can now fill in official DFEE (educational department documents) and put their ethnicity as Cornish (instead of the traditional, "white Irish" "Asian" Afro-Carribean" etc). Great news. When I gave the forms out to the students in my tutor group last week most said that they would from now on be classing themselves as "Cornish".
Interesting post. Tell me please...when you cross the Tamar river on the Saltash bridge and enter Devon, do you feel as if you are going into another "country" as opposed to another "county"? I ask, because I get that feeling quite strongly when I cross the English border at Gretna Green or Coldstream or Lamberton, just north of Berwick, whether into England or back into Scotland. Such is the Celtic pull.
Kind of...and kind of not. We live about 12 miles from the bridge and probably go into Plymouth (in Devon and the biggest city for miles around) about once a week. It does feel different in many ways: there are far more St George's flags on cars and on flag poles and there is a different feel to it but that could be country-city.
I lived for many years in Penzance right at the end of Cornwall and the journey into "England" really felt like a huge undertaking: a friend (by no means parochial and insular) hasn;t made the journey for a couple of years.
Going back into Cornwall from England always feels good... like coming home even though there are still a few miles to go. My wife, originally from Yorkshire, always says that coming over the bridges at Saltash, Gunnislake or Launceston feels like a weight is taken off her shoulders. I follow Penzance Football Club and when we play Devonian teams it does feel subtly different.
My father is Scottish and I do get real emotional surge when I cross the border into Scotland...that Celtic pull that you speak of.
Although we are more or less at opposite ends of the country, I feel a link with Cornwall and would love to go down there one day. I've read up a lot about it. It's funny you mentioned the St George flags! Naturally you never see them in Scotland except on cars from "foreign" parts! ;-) During the World Cup earlier this year when England was still in the running (I was still in Leeds then) and they were everywhere...literally. Going by road up to Scotland the St George was flying from houses right up to the border, literally. Then.....none at all any more after passing the "Welcome to Scotland" sign! The Saltire took over. All the way up to Edinburgh no sign of St George anywhere so you can see the Scots were not really desperate for England to win on the face of it. Many were really and truly, but to fly the St George on Scottish soil would be sacrilege ;-)
From what you say, the Cornish were not all that supportive either! LOL
While we are still in the South West (well, you are, literally!) did you know about the weird Bristol accent? Someone told me about it some time back and I heard some examples. This is a letter from one of today's newspapers (Daily Tel. 15/11) on the subject of Bristolian:
"The upward inflection at the end of a sentence originates in Bristol. There are two characteristics of a proper Bristolian accent. One is the intrusive "l" which is added to any word ending with an open vowel. The second is a tendency to make any statement sound like a question? It is doubtless this last which was carried by Bristol seafarers all the way to Australial?"
One of the samples I mentioned above was a woman from Bristol who enjoys going to the operal? She hoped they had operal in Canadal as she was going to visit her sister in Torontol?
You can't save ALL languages...It's quite normal that languages die out , because another more dominate one took place or that the language has evolved .