Unesco’s language team has put its foot in its mouth by branding the Cornish language “extinct”. That has come as something of a surprise to the 300-odd Cornish people who can still speak it. They have unwittingly joined those classical scholars who insist on parlaying with each other in a “dead” language. Cornish speakers shouldn’t be upset though. Nothing makes linguistic experts so excited as the chance to say that a language is disappearing, or, better still, has been submerged beneath the tides of history for ever.
Academic types have been trying to read the last rites over the Cornish tongue since the 18th century. And yet the language continues to hang in there. Perhaps a period of silence from these alarmist linguists would be in order.
Or as they still, sometimes, say in Penzance: Syns dha glapp!