Where Cornish was Spoken and When: a Provisional Synthesis

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Where Cornish was Spoken and When: a Provisional Synthesis

By Matthew Spriggs

Cornish Studies, Vol. 11 (2003)

Introduction: Roman colonial rule in much of Britain from the mid-first century AD represented language contact as well as major changes to material culture and many other aspects of life. Latin, however, did not replace the Brittonic Celtic language of the Romanized area, although borrowings did occur. In contrast, Anglo-Saxon colonialism represented a massive and rapid case of language shift over much of England during the fifth to seventh centuries to what became Old English. Some would argue that Norman colonialism nearly represented another language shift to Norman French, but even though that did not in the end happen, Norman influence did cause significant contact-induced language change in English. One must not forget Viking settlement in the ninth and tenth centuries as another historical process having linguistic effects. This was much more localized, however, although certainly significant in affected areas.

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