Friday, 20 February 2009

This Langauge is Dead - UNESCO

Not it's not! It's just had a nap.
That was the response from Cornwall and the Isle of Man to the United Nations Atlas of World Languages in Danger which branded both Cornish and Manx Gaelic as extinct, ex-languages, no more, gone to.....
OK you catch my drift.
Cornish may well have been dead in 1777 as a first language bit linguists claim that it is a language in revival over the past 20 years now with about 300 fluent speakers.
Meanwhile on the Isle of Man the language the UN claims died out in in 1974 when Ned Maddrell fell forever silent. However, the island claims there are 600 speakers of the language amongst it 80,000 residents. There is even a Manx language primary school of 50 pupils Bunscoill Gaelgagh.
Unesco admitted that certain languages shown as extinct in its atlas are being actively revitalized, and could once again become "living languages".
However, the label of extinct has angered my fellow Gaels in both regions. Jennifer Kewley-Draskau, author of the handbook Practical Manx said:
"Unesco ought to know better than to declare Manx a dead language.

"There are hundreds of speakers of Manx and while people are able to have productive conversations in the language then it is very much alive and well."
Of Cornish Jenefer Lowe, development manager of the Cornish Language Partnership added:
"Saying Cornish is extinct implies there are no speakers and the language is dead, which it isn't.

"Unesco's study doesn't take into account languages which have growing numbers of speakers and in the past 20 years the revival of Cornish has really gathered momentum.

"There's no category for a language that is revitalised and revived. What they need to do is add a category. It should be recognised that languages do revive and it's a fluid state."
Oh course I never really wanted to be a blogger writing about the extinction or otherwise of Gaelic languages. I always looked the sun on my back, the wind in my hair and the smell of trees. Cause I really wanted to be a lumberjack but that is something completely different.


  1. My blog isn't dead ... etc and so on

  2. Once a language has lost its last speaker who learnt it in the natural way as a mother tongue, it is dead. Languages learnt as second languages by adults are processed in a different way by the brain, the subtleties of mother tongue usage are lost. Even if the language is passed as a mother tongue by those adult learners to their children, the link has gone -it is effectively a new language based on the old one, it is not a natural continuation of the old one.