Death Of The Cornish Language

Dolly Pentreath was a resident of Mousehole who became famous as the person who spoke Cornish as her main language. She was brought up as a Cornish speaker and learnt only to speak English as an adult. Her famed was secured by a visitor to Cornwall called Daines Barrington who discovered Dolly and some other Cornish speakers in Mousehole at a time when it was believed the language had died. Her name now lives on in popular history as the last native Cornish speaker. To all speakers after her the language was learnt after English as a second language.

The last person to die who spoke ONLY Cornish was Chesten Marchant, who died in in 1676 in Gwithian, Cornwall.

The last person to die who had an inherited knowledge of the Cornish language was John Davey from Zennor who died in 1890 , he kept the language alive by speaking Cornish to his cat.

There has been a recent revival of the Cornish language, there are now about 300 speakers in Cornwall and 50 in London, but none of these speakers were taught the language by their parents, it was all picked up from reference books.

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