Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




John Burdick


Celtic, Cornish, Cornwall, Language Ideology, Revival, Standardization

Subject Categories

Anthropology | European Languages and Societies


This dissertation is based upon fieldwork performed between 2007 and 2011 in Cornwall, a region of Southwestern Britain notable for its ambiguous ethnic identity - caught between England and the Celtic nations - and its unique, revived Celtic language, Kernewek. During the course of the research, work focused upon the role of the language revival movement as a tool for ethnic identification: hardening boundaries, shoring up faltering communities and nationalist purification. However, the language movement is divided into three primary factions, which take differing approaches to the language, and to their corresponding language ideology based upon their relationship to Cornish identity. These relationships are based upon speakers' sense of ethnic self as formed through class, kinship, linguistic self-perception, religious and political affiliations and place of birth and childhood. However, since the 2006 recognition of the language by the British states, all of these debates have become intensified due to pressure to standardize. This study examines specific examples including: teaching materials and pedagogical approaches in the language, debates over the minutiae of spelling, aesthetic sensibilities, and practices of the naming and renaming of people and places.


Open Access