Dr. Benjamin Bruch to Teach an Introductory Cornish Language Course in Mineral Point
What is the Cornish language?
At the far southwestern tip of Great Britain lies Cornwall: a small but proud country rich in history, tradition, and folklore. Although nowadays Cornwall is sometimes described as a part of England, the Cornish have not forgotten that their land is a nation in its own right, home to a Celtic culture and a Celtic language that set its people apart from their English neighbors.
Like many places in Britain, Cornwall has its own dialect of English, and many people there still use dialect words or speak with a Cornish accent. But Kernewek, the Cornish language, is something else entirely: like Irish, Gaelic, and Welsh, Cornish is a Celtic language, as different from English as French, German, or Russian. After centuries of decline, Cornish is making a comeback, and Cornwall’s national language is now beginning to be taught in schools and used on street signs alongside English.
Why learn Cornish?
For hundreds of years, Cornish was the everyday language in large parts of Cornwall, particularly in the far west of the country. By 1800, however, it was all but extinct, remembered only in bits and pieces by scholars and a few older people living in remote places. Only in the 20 th century did many people begin to realize the value of preserving and restoring this important part of Cornwall’s cultural heritage. Today, a growing number of speakers as well as books, films, podcasts, and pop songs in Cornish are making the language once again a part of daily life in Cornwall.
Some study Cornish to reconnect with their own Cornish ancestors. Others are drawn to it by the lure of the landscape and the music of exotic place-names like Goonhilly, Landewednack, Lostwithiel, Praze-an-Beeble, and Trelowarren. Still others are simply excited to take part in the extraordinary project of breathing new life into a language that was dead for over a century.
About the instructor:
Dr. Benjamin Bruch, a world-renowned authority on Celtic studies, will offer a short introductory course in the Cornish language at the Pendarvis historic site in Mineral Point in March and April 2013. A native of Wisconsin, Dr. Bruch currently lives and works in Iowa. He first became interested in Cornish while doing family history research in the 1990s, and quickly fell in love with the language, traveling to Cornwall to attend gatherings for Cornish learners and eventually becoming a teacher himself.
Dr. Bruch was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 1998 and played a key role in developing the new standard spelling system for Cornish which was adopted in 2008. A graduate of the Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, he has taught Cornish and other Celtic languages to students of all ages at schools, colleges, and cultural events in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Austria.
About the course:
The Cornish course will be held at the Pendarvis Historic Site in Mineral Point on two Tuesdays and two Saturdays in March and April. The first of these sessions will begin with a special presentation on the Cornish language and St. Piran’s Day (Cornwall’s national holiday, celebrated annually on March 5). This 60-minute presentation is free and open to the public, and listeners will have the opportunity after the talk to register for the language course which begins that afternoon.
Tuesday, March 5, 12:30-1:30 PM - The Cornish Language and St. Piran’s Day - FREE
Tuesday, March 5, 2:00-8:00 PM - Cornish Language Course, Session One
Saturday, March 16, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM - Cornish Language Course, Session Two
Tuesday, April 2, 12:30-8:00 PM - Cornish Language Course, Session Three
Saturday, April 27, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM - Cornish Language Course, Session Four
Each session of the language course includes a one-hour break for lunch or dinner.
While it is hoped that participants will be able to attend all four sessions, the course is structured so that each session will include a review of all previous material as well as adding new material. As a result, even students who can only attend a single session will be able to acquire a basic knowledge of contemporary spoken Cornish. All participants will also receive a course pack containing handouts, lessons, and other Cornish language resources.
Registration and costs for the language course:
Adult - $30 per session ($120 for all four)
Student (age 12 through high school) - $10 per session ($40 for all four)
Age 11 and under - Free
To register, please send a check (payable to the Cornish Language Class, Richard Baker, Chairman) to Richard Baker, 1520 Coventry Court, Reedsburg, WI 53959 or drop it off in person at the Mineral Point Collection, 151 High Street, Mineral Point. Please also include a separate sheet listing your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and the dates of the sessions you plan to attend. Please make your reservation by Friday, March 1, 2013. Late registrations may be accepted if there is room in the class.
Point of contact: Dick Baker, phone 608-524-1490 or 608-963-3529; e-mail email@example.com
A memorial to the Cornish who migrated to this region in the 1800's is being installed in the Mineral Point Library by the Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society. The memorial, a bas-relief mural of dimensional clay with colour, has been commissioned to be designed and constructed by Bruce Howdle, Artist in Residence, renowned Bas Relief maker and Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. The mural will include Cornwall's mining heritage, our Cornish mining, and our farming connections.
Contributions to this memorial are greatly appreciated. Donations should be made payable to the Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society and mailed to Catherine A. Whitford, 150 Jail Alley, Mineral Point, WI 53565-1212. Credit cards may be used by telephoning 608.987.9930 or 608.987.2545.
We are fortunate to have the records from the Cornwall
Family History Society available to us on line in Southwest
Wisconsin for researching our Cornish ancestors. Birth,
death, and marriage records that happened in Cornwall
are all accessible on CFHS records. You may contact
either one of the two convenient depositories at the
Southwest Wisconsin Room in the Ulsvick Hall at the
University of Wisconsin-Platteville (608-342-1719)
or at the Mineral Point Room in the Public Library
in Mineral Point, Wisconsin (608-987-2447). They are
available FREE for your use and you may order copies
of documents from Cornwall for a small fee. Please
remember that these records are a work in progress,
not a finished product. We suggest you call ahead to
make certain the facility is open and available on
the day you wish to visit. The Mineral Point Room is
open only on Thursday afternoon and evening and on
In addition to the CFHS records, you may be surprised
at the array of genealogical information you may find
at both of these fine libraries.