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Cornish language cheques and "Go Cornish"
There are so many truly wonderful aspects to Cornwall’s identity and culture, and I personally consider that the most important factor in our distinctiveness to be the Cornish language. This is because, to me, the continued existence of our own Celtic language, emphasises that we have a national identity, rather than simply a regional or county character.
Over the years, a large number of people have worked so incredibly hard to promote and celebrate Cornish – teaching students, producing books and magazines, using the language in music and the arts, and raising its public profile. So much of this work has been undertaken by dedicated volunteers, and I believe we owe them a great debt.

Significant progress has been made in recent decades and, in November 2002, the status of the language was recognised through the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. This international agreement committed the UK Government to a range of measures to protect and develop the language and, in 2014, this was followed by the recognition of the Cornish through the Framework Convention for National Minorities.

But sadly, central government has failed to meet its obligations and, in 2016, it shamefully ended its funding of Cornish.

Unsurprisingly and quite rightly, in 2017, an opinion from a Committee of the Council of Europe was extremely critical of the UK Government’s failings and challenged it to act on the “linguistic and cultural rights” of the Cornish, and to rethink “the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure will have on the delicate process of revitalising a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.”

There were also other recommendations in the opinion, which included calls for a Cornish Language Act and for the BBC to show support for the language.

Action from the relevant authorities has not been forthcoming and it has been reported that Lloyds Bank is now refusing to accept cheques written in Cornish. I find I unbelievable that Lloyds have issued a statement saying that “it cannot take cheques in languages employees do not understand.” Really? How difficult can it be to understand “peswardhek peuns” when it is written next to “£14.00”?

Lloyds Bank accepts cheques in other Celtic languages, such as Scots Gaelic and Welsh, which further emphasises the ridiculousness of their approach to Cornish.

On a more positive note, a new online Cornish language resource has been launched by Golden Tree Productions, in co-operation with Cornwall Council. To find out more and identify your local class, log onto GoCornish.org.

Please note: the image of the cheque has been supplied by Ray Chubb from Agan Tavas, who is leading the campaign to raise awareness of the position of Lloyds.
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By Dick Cole. Published on 25th February 2019.

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