In brief

Cornwall calls on UK government to grant Cornish language same protection as Welsh, Irish

Flag of Cornwall.
Flag of Cornwall. Author: Cornwall Council
The Cornwall Council has called on the UK government to recognize and protect the Cornish language to the same level as Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh. The leaders of the five Council groups, representing all of its 87 members, have sent a letter to Rishi Sunak’s government. The letter calls for Cornish to be protected under Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, not just under Part II, which offers fewer safeguards.

Cornish is now the only UK language with limited Part II protection. Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Manx are promoted under Part III. The inclusion of Cornish in Part III would oblige the UK authorities to take concrete measures to promote the language in areas such as education, the courts, public services, the media, and cultural and economic life.

The Cornwall Council’s demand coincides with the tenth anniversary of the recognition of the Cornish people as a national minority under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Both the Convention and the Charter are instruments of the Council of Europe.

After being left with no native speakers in the late 18th century, Cornish underwent a revival since the early 20th century. Some 500 people in Cornwall claim Cornish as their main language, according to the 2021 census. About 3,000 have some knowledge of the language.