Wednesday 22 November 2017

Holy Bible translated into Cornish

An Beybel Sans in Kernowek sees the holy book translated into Cornish
An Beybel Sans in Kernowek sees the holy book translated into Cornish

It has been translated into thousands of languages and dialects around the world, and now the Bible has been translated into Cornish for the first time.

The Christian holy book - An Beybel Sans in Kernowek, the Cornish name for the language - took Celtic language specialist Professor Nicholas Williams around 13 years to finish.

He completed the New Testament in 2002, but after six years of work his Old Testament has just been completed. It has now been published, with around 50 copies of the large "pulpit-sized" version of the book sold to subscribers.

Prof Williams, 69, who is from London but learned Cornish from the age of 15 because it was a bit "odd and bizarre", said having the Bible translated into a language was vital for its heritage.

He told BBC Radio Cornwall: "One of the reasons we lost the language was because there was no Bible in Cornish. The Welsh had one (in Welsh) from the time of Elizabeth I, but the Cornish didn't.

"As well as being the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures it is one of the defining books of our culture.

"Once you have the Bible you have created your literary heritage and I hope this book will be influential in the Cornish revival."

The last speaker of Cornish as a first language is believed to have died more than 200 years ago. It was recognised as a language by the Government in 2002, but deemed "extinct" by the United Nations in 2009, to the anger of many in Cornwall.

The language has been undergoing a revival in its native lands, with dual-language road signs an increasingly common sight and, in January 2010, the opening of a creche teaching young children the language.

Prof Williams, who also taught Irish Gaelic at University College Dublin for 30 years before retiring, said he kept going on the marathon task by doing the "boring bits first" - starting with Leviticus, the chapter of the Old Testament which deals with which foods people can eat.

Press Association

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