Cornish, closely related to Breton and Welsh, was the language of the southwest tip of Britain for centuries. However, it was pushed further and further west by the encroaching English from the 15th century until it effectively died out as a first language in the late 18th century. It is said – though this is energetically debated by scholars – that one Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole in west Cornwall was the last person to speak Cornish as a first language. She died in 1777.
Revival started in the early 20th century, and by 2002 Cornish was recognised by the UK government under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Since then, the council has funded bilingual road signage and Cornish is taught in some primary schools.
A growing body of Cornish music and films reflects energetic efforts to promote the language today. However, there is a long way to go. In the latest census, only around 600 people claimed fluency in Cornish, with estimates that some 3,000 have some ability in the language. That represents well under 0.5% of the population.
Some words to get you started:
Hello Dydh da
OK Da lowr
Goodbye Duw genes
Please Maar pleg
Thanks Meru ras
Cornwall forever! Kernow bys vyken!
Cornish Language Board http://www.kesva.org/
Go Cornish https://gocornish.org/