As of 2023, we can revisit the topic of the Cornish language and its revitalization efforts, including the emergence of new standard forms such as Kernewek Kemmyn and the Standard Written Form (SWF) for short.


Cornish, a Celtic language with deep historical roots in Cornwall, has seen a remarkable resurgence in recent years. This resurgence is not only characterized by a renewed interest in the language but also by the development of new standard forms—Kernewek Kemmyn and the SWF—aimed at preserving and revitalizing this ancient tongue.

Historical Context

Cornish, closely related to Breton and Welsh, shares a rich history with its Celtic counterparts. Between the 6th and 8th centuries AD, the westward movement of Anglo-Saxon peoples led to the separation of the Celts in Strathclyde, Cumbria, Wales, and Cornwall. This division marked the beginning of separate language developments, giving rise to Primitive Welsh, Primitive Cornish, and Primitive Breton. These early stages eventually evolved into distinct languages spoken in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, respectively.

Historical Phases

Cornish’s history is conventionally divided into Old Cornish (from its inception to the end of the 12th century), Middle Cornish (1200-1600), and Late Cornish (1600-1800), also known as Traditional Cornish. In contrast to these historical phases, we now have Modern Cornish, which has emerged through various contemporary revival efforts.

Standardization Efforts

One significant milestone in the Cornish language’s journey is the development of new standard forms, including Kernewek Kemmyn and the SWF. Kernewek Kemmyn, also known as Common Cornish or Phonemic Cornish, was once the standard form designed to reflect the historic pronunciation and phonological evolution of Cornish. However, today, the SWF has taken over as the main form used.

The Standard Written Form (SWF)

The Standard Written Form (SWF) is now the primary standard for written Cornish. It focuses on creating a standardized written representation of the language, emphasizing consistency and clarity in writing. The SWF serves as a reference point for written Cornish, allowing for uniformity and ease of use, especially in written materials, publications, and education.

Contemporary Revival and Literary Renaissance

Today, the Cornish language is experiencing a literary revival. Literature in Cornish is still primarily written in Unified Cornish, but there is a growing body of work in the SWF. This resurgence includes poetry, short stories, children’s books, translations, and even radio plays.

Challenges and Standardization

However, challenges persist. While the revival is gaining momentum, publishing in Cornish remains a niche endeavor, with limited sales and multiple spelling systems causing some fragmentation. Achieving full standardization, including the widespread adoption of the SWF, is seen as crucial to making the language more accessible to a wider readership.


In conclusion, the Cornish language has witnessed a remarkable revival in the 21st century, with the SWF taking over as the main form used, replacing Kernewek Kemmyn. These developments have breathed new life into this ancient Celtic language, preserving its heritage for future generations while embracing its evolving contemporary expressions.