Ruined tin mine
Cornwall is an evocative place. A Celtic land with a rich mythology, a land of caves and coves, of cream teas and country lanes. At least that's the image that has long attracted travellers and settlers. Yet it's also a land that has, over the last century, faced dramatic social and economic changes: the decline of the traditional fishing, tin and clay industries and the growth of tourism.
Today, with the arrival of newcomers and the departure of industry, the Cornish dialect is seldom heard. But does this mean it no longer exists? This week Melvyn Bragg travels west to discover whether Cornish really is a dialect in crisis.
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The roots of Cornish
Bert Biscoe is a local poet, Truro councillor and Cornish enthusiast. He believes that, far from extinction, the Cornish dialect continues to thrive, not least because of its rich heritage.
For Richard Gendall, Research Fellow at the Institute of Cornish Studies at Exeter University, the Cornish dialect is a subtle, complex thing, which has evolved across time and across the region.
Les Lean worked in china clay extraction at Wheal Martyn near St. Austell. It was a self-contained world with its own terminology, which, along with the industry itself, is now extinct. Les returned to reminisce about his days as a "kettle-boy".
The fishing industry also had its own dialect which, like the language of 'the clay', is now little more than a memory, as Richard Gendall and his wife Jan explain.
The dramatic changes to local talk in Cornwall can be heard in playwright Nick Darke's recording of his late neighbour, fisherman Jack Brenton.
Cornish in crisis?
Although it is increasingly rare to hear the Cornish dialect, particularly in the media, Bert Biscoe believes it can still be heard - in the right company.
Cornishwoman Joyce Stevenson agrees. She explains how her friends and neighbours use Cornish selectively.
It's not just social change that is to blame for the decline of the Cornish dialect. With it's distinctive 'r' sounds and idiomatic phrases, Cornish has long been the butt of ridicule, as Les Lean soon learnt when he left the Duchy for National Service.
The future sound of Cornwall
The ridicule of Cornish talk has clearly affected the attitudes of the region's young people, many of whom display more south-eastern dialect traits than those of their native Cornwall.
Optimist Bert Biscoe believes that there is a future for the Cornish dialect, and that the Duchy's young people will, perhaps unwittingly, shape the future sound of Cornwall.