What's The Language Revival Really Like?

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pietercharles
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What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by pietercharles » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:42 pm

I'm posting this because I'm very worried that if you've ever considered learning Cornish you may well have been completely put off by what you've read on the language thread of C24. I know lots of people have been.

But the C24 language thread doesn't reflect what the Revival is really like at all - it's a complete travesty, in fact. The Revival is not about linguists endlessly battling it out over one word and which of their theories is right, nor about massive egos preening themselves and getting into bitter and irrelevant arguments about what everybody ought or ought not to be saying and writing.

So why not consider finding out what the Revival and the people involved in it are really like?

For just £25 (if you don't take the organised accommodation and meals), or even less if you go as a family or group of students, you can attend the next Cornish Language Weekend in Newquay which starts on Friday 8th April. You'll meet absolute beginners and fluent speakers alike, you can join in with the dancing and singing, watch the play, prop up the bar, enter the quiz, buy books and stuff from the stall...it's up to you.
You can also pick up something like six hours of Cornish lessons tailored to suit whatever level you're at, even if you don't know a word of Cornish right now.
I've been a few times and have always had a great time. I've never once heard anyone discussing spelling or linguistics - it's just ordinary, friendly people celebrating the use of their language and enjoying a truly Cornish event.

Below is the information sheet the Kowethas sent us (see especially the programme outline half way down). It was sent from their e-mail address kowethas@hotmail.co.uk so you should be able to get the booking forms from there.

You've probably been telling yourself that one day you'll get round to learning Cornish.
For £25, or less, why not put a toe in the water and see what the Revival is really all about?
Go on...at that price it's a snip, and you know it makes sense!

Information:

CORNISH LANGUAGE WEEKEND 2011
Friday 8th April to Sunday 10th April
Sandy Lodge Hotel, Hilgrove Road, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 2QY

Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek will be hosting another Cornish Language weekend for all those interested in the Cornish language. The language weekend offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in which complete beginners through to advanced speakers can enjoy a range of classes, activities and talks to suit ALL levels. Entertainment and an excursion are also planned.

Building on the success of previous years the venue will be the Sandy Lodge Hotel in Newquay, for the fourth year running. This is a family run hotel situated about half a mile east of the town centre and about a quarter of a mile from the railway station. All rooms are en suite, with television and tea and coffee making facilities. The hotel has parking for some 35 cars and it is also possible to park in the adjacent St Anne’s Road. The hotel has a residents’ lounge with bar and dance floor – which we will be using over the weekend. The hotel has single rooms, double/twin rooms and family rooms which have either a double and a single or a double with bunks. The cost is £75.30 per person for two nights half board in double/twin rooms. Children under 12 receive a discount of 50% and those between 12 and 16 a discount of 25%. Rooms are available on a single occupancy basis – the cost is £88.65 for two nights (the room you are allocated may be either a single or a double, but you will not be sharing). Residents can check in after 1430 on Friday. Accommodation is on a half board basis with dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. You may also choose to take advantage of an optional buffet lunch on Saturday and/or Sunday. The cost of this is £6.00 per day. Special dietary or other requirements should be specified on the hotel booking form. Dinner can be provided on Friday and/or Saturday night for non-residents for £13.25 per meal, but these must be ordered in advance on the hotel booking form. If you wish to find someone to share a room please e-mail kowethas@hotmail.co.uk and we will attempt to put you in touch with someone else who wishes to share. Alternatives are available at extra cost - please contact the hotel for further information. If you wish to extend your stay you may do so at the same rate, that is £37.65 per person per night half board in a double/twin room, or £44.30 per night single occupancy. The hotel has very kindly held rates at the same level as last year – the very small increase in prices reflecting only the increase in VAT applicable from January 2011.

Brief Programme (subject to change):
Friday Evening: check in to accommodation; 1900 Dinner; meet up in the bar for music, poetry and getting to know each other.
Saturday: 0800 Breakfast; 0900 to 1230 lessons in Kernewek; 1245 Lunch. After lunch either an excursion, led in Kernewek with English translation, or extra lessons in the hotel; 1900 Dinner, followed by entertainment in the bar.
Sunday: 0800 Breakfast; 0900 to 1230 lessons in Kernewek; 1245 Lunch, followed by a final get together, summary of the weekend, and goodbye until next time!

The Kowethas will make a single charge of £20 per person for the weekend for members of the Kowethas, or £25 per person for non-members.
In order to encourage young people to attend, the charge for families with children under 18 and for groups of students aged 18 to 25 will be a single payment of £20 (members) or £25 (non-members) per family or student group. All family members or students in a group must be booked on a single form.

This charge covers entertainment on the Saturday night and the cost of the lessons, teaching materials, photocopying and ad-hoc expenses. It also covers, for the under 18s who are not charged, the cost of lunches and the Saturday evening entertainment.
Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available during morning, lunch and afternoon breaks at a cost of £1 per cup, payable during the break.
If you would like additional tickets for the Saturday evening entertainment, perhaps for family or friends not attending the weekend, these can be purchased for £3.00 in advance or £5.00 at the door on the night. And if you will be attending the weekend but not staying at the hotel you can join everyone else for dinner on Friday and/or Saturday night at a cost of £13.25 per person per meal, which you must book in advance on the hotel booking form.

Because we are based in a hotel it is very important that both we and the hotel know in good time how many people will attend and what their particular requirements are, especially with respect to Cornish lessons.
There are TWO forms that you need to complete BEFORE 28 February 2011:
1. The Accommodation booking form, which must be sent direct to the hotel – payment details and the address are on the form.
2. The Entertainment and Lessons booking form, which must be sent to the Kowethas – payment details and the address are on the form.
The hotel cannot process the entertainment and lessons booking form, and the Kowethas cannot book the hotel accommodation for you, so please do ensure that you send the forms to the correct address!
Note also that although the deadline for bookings is 28 February, and the rates quoted cannot be guaranteed after that date, it really will help us enormously if you book as early as possible to give us more time to tailor the weekend to meet everyone’s needs.
For many of us involved in promoting Kernewek, at whatever level, the annual Pennseythun Gernewek is the highlight of the year. The committee of Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek is sure that 2011 will be no exception, and we look forward to seeing you in Newquay.

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factotum
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by factotum » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:33 am

The Language Weekends I remember attending and enjoying were at an affordable price, so that there was no excuse for not attending (other than clash of dates), and consequently attendance was a "must". Because you knew that pretty well everybody would be there, it became one of three or four natural meeting places each year for Cornish speakers/learners. Unfortunately, someone, at some point decided to take them up-market and make them more exclusive, and helpful inclusive facilities, like being able to arrange shared accommodation were no longer on offer. I'd say that a Language Weekend now is not a gathering of the 'movement', but simply just another specialist part of the holiday/entertainment industry. I particularly find the practice that has been in place for several years now, of charging an attendance fee simply to get in to the event (exclusive of accommodation and food) very offensive. It implies that the event is something provided for us to consume, not something we all contribute to by our presence. I.e. it views attendees as simply paying customers, and so devalues their vital contribution to the Revival. Indeed surely they are the Revival.

It's important to remember that this is not like the kind of language courses and events that you can pay to attend in Wales or Scotland or elsewhere. These are generally properly organised programmes with professional teachers, facilities etc. In addition the prices reflect the fact that many attendees will have their fees subsidised by the government. None of this is true in Cornwall, where language weekends are essentially do-it-yourself affairs.

I would argue that Cornish needs to be taken out to the general public and made more available, but the trend seems to be to make it more not less of an exclusive club.

Note : I should point out that I'm not here trying to get at anyone, I just feel rather sad that a pleasant, inspiring and pivotal point of the movement no longer exists. The change took place during a period when through pressure of other commitments, I was not closely involved with the language, so I really don't know how or why it happened. I just think it's a real shame.

Keeley
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Keeley » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:47 pm

Factotum, you're such a grouch! What are you talking about? The language weekend is not in the least bit exclusive - last year it was heaving with people from all walks of life who were all there just to have a good time and practice their Cornish. And there's nothing to stop you sharing accommodation, that's what it says in the information sheet, you need to read it. It's just rubbish what you say about why there is a small charge for attendance as everyone still contributes by their presence and of course the language weekend is an attempt to take the language out to the public as there were quite a lot of people there that had never thought about learning Cornish before. We should be encouraging people to go, not putting them off with a wall of negativity like the one you're offering.
Look, everyone else, don't take any notice of factotum. I've been three times now and its a very pleasant and inspiring event and at the end when there's a washup everyone says how much they've enjoyed it and that they will come again next year. I can't talk about other classes but just about everyone from the London class is going, which is about 25 people and they wouldn't keep going every year if it was anything like the way factotum paints it. As far as I can tell, factotum doesn't even go so how would he know what it is like these days? Its probably just as well that factotum doesn't go any more because he's such a grouch he'd probably spoil it for everyone.
Ignore factotum and give it a try. I bet you'll have a great time and you'll learn a shed load of Cornish at the same time. And the people are really friendly and helpful.
I found the forms you need on the MAGA website on the events page here, under April - http://www.magakernow.org.uk/default.aspx?page=9 Sorry but I don't know how to make that a link you can click on but you should be able to find it ok.

pietercharles
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by pietercharles » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:05 am

Thanks for that Keeley. Well said!

I wish more 'ordinary' people who are learning and using Cornish would come here to talk about their experiences with the language and how much they get from it, but although I know lots of them read C24, none of them is willing to come here and post. I guess it's obvious why.

It probably isn't worth trying to put factotum straight. He's a linguist, so like the rest of them he thinks that the way to encourage people to learn Cornish (without which there is no Revival) is to argue endlessly in public (they've been at it for years, going round in circles all the time) about the spelling of a single word, vowel quality, schwa in ablaut, lexical diffusion, vocalic alternation, and a whole host of other stuff that makes the language look boring and completely unapproachable and simply puts people off even thinking about learning it.

Not forgetting, of course, that these linguists also seem to think that the public will rush to a Cornish class as a result of watching them damn each other's pet theories in public and criticise the approach of anyone who is actually doing something constructive to encourage people to learn Cornish and bring it to ordinary people.

Just what do linguists think will encourage people to take the first step and give Cornish a go? A never-ending, bitter and bad-mannered argument about the spelling of a single word, played out in public, or a fun and friendly social event with taster Cornish lessons?

You're spot on in telling people to ignore factotum. Most of us that have listened to the linguists for years have now learnt to ignore them as best we can although it's sometimes difficult because, as you've seen on C24, they never give up trying to force their views on everyone else, and they never stop grinding people down by going on and on and on in an effort to get their own way. We just need to make sure that potential learners ignore them too. They are not helping the Revival. They are hindering it, big time.

tex
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by tex » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:29 am

pietercharles wrote:You're spot on in telling people to ignore factotum. Most of us that have listened to the linguists for years have now learnt to ignore them as best we can although it's sometimes difficult because, as you've seen on C24, they never give up trying to force their views on everyone else, and they never stop grinding people down by going on and on and on in an effort to get their own way. We just need to make sure that potential learners ignore them too. They are not helping the Revival. They are hindering it, big time.
Bit of a blanket statement don’t you think?

pietercharles
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by pietercharles » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:40 pm

Yes.

See what we're up against?

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Marhak
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Marhak » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:54 pm

Pieter, Keeley - if you attend the language weekend, put in a report about how it went. I'm sure it'll go exactly as you both say (although I will not be able to attend). The recent Agan Tavas one was a very enjoyable experience, and I'm sure this will be as well. I must admit that the "linguists" of all colours are starting to irk me. I just want a language we can all get along with, so that we can all get along again, too.

Karesk
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Karesk » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:54 pm

The problem is not linguists as such. The problem is that some people think that axes exist in order to be ground. The best way to treat an axe is to grind it the least amount that makes it fit for use.

carrek
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by carrek » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:32 pm

Until there are enough teachers qualified to teach it in schools, it is language weekends, yeth an werins, creches, classes, festivals, media and community outreach that is the future of the language.

Linguists play an important role in the revival, but they do not (and shouldn't always have to) concern themselves with pushing the language into the public domain. That is why there is friction between the let's-get-it-right-before-we-use-it approach and the let's-just-get-on-with-using-it approach. These approaches are not exclusive, they are the yin and the yang of the revival. We can't revive a language without linguists (we can only construct a new one), but the linguists can't expect us to wait until they come down from the mountain with their stone tablets. But a little more courtesy from both approaches towards the other would go a long way.

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Marhak
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Marhak » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:07 pm

That sums it up pretty well, Carrek.

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Coady
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Coady » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:06 pm

I've just read this all three times, and can hardly believe it!
How sensible, reasonable and constructive.
I can't recall a thread on the Cornish Language so positive.
(Better close the thread now befor some grumpy old man spoils it!)

Thanks all.
We live in interesting times!

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Marhak
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Marhak » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:43 pm

Well, we can't keep binding on about the past, Graham. We've done all that and to what end? Time to push on and do the best we can. Hell - I've even been working quite constructively with Ken George and Julyan Holmes lately. You wouldn't have put money on seeing that happen a year or two back.

pietercharles
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by pietercharles » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:51 pm

carrek wrote:
Linguists play an important role in the revival, but they do not (and shouldn't always have to)
concern themselves with pushing the language into the public domain. That is why there is friction
between the let's-get-it-right-before-we-use-it approach and the let's-just-get-on-with-using-it
approach. These approaches are not exclusive, they are the yin and the yang of the revival. We can't
revive a language without linguists (we can only construct a new one), but the linguists can't
expect us to wait until they come down from the mountain with their stone tablets. But a little more
courtesy from both approaches towards the other would go a long way.
This analysis is interesting and sounds compelling but I think there are now many people that would disagree with it.

Firstly they no longer accept that the "let's-get-it-right-before-we-use-it" approach is valid at all. They have come to realise that in cases such as whether to write 'klywes' or 'clywes' (and many others) there is no 'right', there are only preferences and one preference is as valid as the next. It is odd that ordinary people have come to realise this rather than the linguists. Then they point out that the linguists have been arguing for nearly 30 years over what is 'right' and there is still no end in sight. So if we wait for them to get it 'right' we'll never use it. Never. And just who is going to decide that we've now 'got it right' and give eveyone permission, at last, to use it?

Secondly they believe there is no alternative to the "let's-just-get-on-with-using-it" approach because whether the 'get-it-right-before-we-use-it' supporters like it or not there is a demand, albeit not nearly big enough (and we know why that is), for Cornish lessons, and people are not prepared to wait for linguists to 'get it right' especially as they have failed to do so miserably to date. On top of that there are hundreds of people that have invested man-years of effort into learning and teaching the language and they are not going to stop while the linguists try to 'get it right'.

Thirdly they no longer believe you cannot revive a language without linguists. Reviving the language means learning it, teaching it and above all using it. That's what it means. Which of those can't be done without linguists? Nobody believes any more that someone speaking competent Cornish is not speaking Revived Cornish but a 'New Language' just because they spell a word with a 'y' instead of an 'e', which is just the kind of issue linguists have decided Cornish speakers are desperate for them to resolve. It's actually a hair-splitting distinction that seems to have been designed to make people think they have to worry about such trivia in case they are speaking something other than Cornish. These messages have not helped speakers' self-confidence.

Fourthly, many people no longer want what linguists appear to be offering - a change here, a change there, a new spelling here, a new spelling there, encouragement to use this kind of vocabulary, warning not to use that kind of vocabulary. What they want is STABILITY, and a cynical view is that linguists appear to be working damn hard to make sure they don't get it.

Finally, they believe that linguists must have an important role in the revial. They just don't think they are playing it at the moment. Just what is it that linguists are doing, right now, that is essential to the Revival? And I repeat, the Revival is about learning, teaching and above all using Cornish. How are linguists facilitating that? Ask around. People will tell you that they know of nobody that ever started learning Cornish because of what the linguists are doing right now - because they enjoyed the spelling debates and wanted to get involved in them, or because they were fascinated by whether vowels in ablaut tend to schwa. But that's not important. What is important is that if you ask around you will find people that say they will never considering learning Cornish because we spend all our time arguing about spelling and it's quite clear from what they've seen that you need a degree in linguistics before you can even begin to consider going to a class. C24 is a major player in fostering this impression with apparently esoteric, complicated arguments being banded about ad nauseam and in a most unpleasant, belligerent and pompous manner by linguists who think they are thus making a major contribution to the Revival. They aren't. They are putting, and have put, who knows how many people off learning Cornish for good, which is really, really, damaging.

I personally think the linguistic arguments are interesting and on the odd occasion when they actually achieve something they are probably worth considering. I just wish the linguists would lock themselves away in a room, away from the public eye, argue themselves witless, and not come out until they have all finally agreed they 'have-got-it-right'.

One way or another that would solve the problem (probably by ensuring that, since they couldn't come out until they were in agreement, we'd never see them again).

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factotum
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by factotum » Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:37 am

Keeley : Not exclusive! Barth an Jowl! £25 just to get in the door to chat with your mates! Even if by luck you happened to live next door to the venue and had nothing to pay for travel and accommodation. It's the people who come who make the event, it's not like a gig or a class or a lecture, where a special class of people are paid to provide entertainment or education. Everyone contributes (or used to) according to their ability. It need to be a community, although a temporary one. You're asking people to pay for the right to contribute. That's plain potty! And IMO suggests exclusiveness.

Karesk
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Re: What's The Language Revival Really Like?

Post by Karesk » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:03 am

factotum wrote:Keeley : Not exclusive! Barth an Jowl! £25 just to get in the door to chat with your mates! Even if by luck you happened to live next door to the venue and had nothing to pay for travel and accommodation. It's the people who come who make the event, it's not like a gig or a class or a lecture, where a special class of people are paid to provide entertainment or education. Everyone contributes (or used to) according to their ability. It need to be a community, although a temporary one. You're asking people to pay for the right to contribute. That's plain potty! And IMO suggests exclusiveness.
It can't be quite that simple. I have not yet made it to a language event but I certainly intend to. When I do, I will be arriving somewhere where I don't know anybody or what to expect, with minimal confidence in my ability to speak or understand any Cornish at all, so I will be fairly terrified. I will be hoping that someone will have put some thought and planning into the event so that people like me will feel welcome and at ease and able to contribute in the way you describe, rather than feeling like a gatecrasher at a private party. I would be happy to pay £25 for that.

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