The Cornish ( Kernewek , Kernowek or Curnoack ) is a Celtic language of the Brythonic group , spoken in the peninsula of Cornwall , in the southwest of England , UK . Cornish was the language of local communities until the end of the 18th century , when it was gradually replaced by English until it was virtually extinct in the 18th century . Since 1904 there has been an attempt to revive the language, and today it is spoken fluently by about 2000 individuals.
The Cornish language is a Celtic language related to Breton and Welsh , being direct descendants of the British language, once common in most of Great Britain . The language declined after the introduction of the English Common Prayer Book (in 1549) and, around 1800, ceased to be used as a community language.
After the beginning of the 19th century, researchers began to study the language from isolated remnants, and in 1904 Henry Jenner published a Cornish language manual, thus beginning its revitalization. Although less than 1% of the Cornish population profess fluency in the language and still less declare it their “mother tongue”, the language continues to play a significant role in the culture of Cornwall.
Many events use the Cornish, in the form of short phrases, in openings, greetings or names. There is a considerable musical tradition in the language, which can also be enjoyed by non-speakers. The great majority of Cornwall’s toponymy are derived from the language, and an important portion of the population knows at least simple words or phrases in Cornish.