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Original Fourth Grade Course

The fourth grade is not a set of lessons like the first and second/third grade lessons, but a study programme based on published books and past examination papers. The fourth grade examination comprises two three-hour papers and an oral examination. The first paper tests knowledge of the language only, usually by means of translation passages into English, questions to be answered in Cornish about a passage in Cornish, and essays to be written in Cornish. Sometimes questions of a specific grammatical nature appear but in any case a thorough knowledge of grammar and idiom is necessary to answer all the questions adequately.

The second paper has questions on two set texts and on the history of Cornish, its status and relevance at the present time and related topics. Each set text runs for two years but every year one of the two is changed. The current examination syllabus is available in this website under the ‘Examinations’ heading.

The Language Programme 

For each lesson the student is asked to translate a passage of about 500 words long from Cornish into English and send it in to be checked. When it has been returned it should be translated back into Cornish without reference to the original. When completed, the re-translation should be checked against the original and any mistakes which are recognised as such should be corrected but leave any differences which you think are probably correct in spite of being different and send again to KDL for checking. There is always a good chance you may spot errors in the original. Whilst doing this work you should be constantly checking and revising any points of grammar and vocabulary you are unsure of, using your earlier course material and/or the Grammar of Modern Cornish. 

Later students will be asked to answer questions from past examination papers, to be returned to the tutor for comment.

In doing this work you may come across words that are not in the Gerlyver Meur or the New Standard Cornish Dictionary so it would be useful to have also the Morton Nance Dictionary which is in the old Unified Cornish. This was republished in 1990. In most cases the spelling is near enough the new to be recognised, bearing in mind that the old c except in ch becomes k and that words which now start with hw used to start with wh. Qu in Unified became kw in Kernewek Kemmyn.

The Set Text Programme The tutor will allocate pages to be translated and then re-translated after being checked as with the translation work in the Language Programme. There are also questions with each lesson which should be answered and sent in to be marked.

The History Programme Written work on the history programme does not begin until later in the course to give you a chance to do some reading. The most valuable single book is “The Cornish Language and its Literature” by Peter Berresford Ellis although other useful books are “The Story of the Cornish Language”, “The Death of Cornish” and “The Life of Cornish”. It is equally important for you to be in touch with, and up to date with what is now going on in connection with the language so take part in as much Cornish activity as you can and, especially if you live outside Cornwall, read “An Gannas” from Kowethas an Yeth month by month. 

You will be asked to answer questions on past papers. Students who have answered these most successfully are those who have spent many hours with books or on websites, often in public libraries finding out as much as possible about the topic in addition to what can be obtained from the sources already mentioned. By the time you have worked through the programme there will not be much you don’t know about the history and background of Cornish and the chances are you will already have written an essay which will near enough fit the requirements of the actual exam paper. Some of the questions are on place and personal names for which you will need to study and be able to refer to one or more of the books listed on these topics.

Books required 

Books marked Kesva and Kowethas are currently obtainable from Kowethas an Yeth www.cornish-language.org

A Grammar of Modern Cornish Wella Brown (Kesva)

Wella Brown’s “Grammar of Modern Cornish.” is the main reference grammar and is essential for fourth grade students. Tutors will refer to it during the course as appropriate in comments on students’ work. The greater part of basic grammar has been covered however in the first two KDL courses.

Gerlyver Meur or The New Standard Cornish Dictionary Ken George (Kesva)

Cornish Verbs Ray Edwards (Kesva)

A Cornish-English, English-Cornish Dictionary R. Morton Nance (Agan Tavas)

The Cornish Language and its Literature P. Berresford Ellis (Routledge and Kegan Paul, Amazon)

A Popular Dictionary of Cornish Place Names O. J. Padel (Alison Hodge, Amazon)

And / or some popular books such as 

The Story of the Cornish Language P. Berresford Ellis

The Life of Cornish Crysten Fudge

A Handbook of Cornish Surnames G. Pawley White

A Very Brief History of the Cornish Language Graham Sandercock

Place Names in Cornwall Ken George et al. 

Books marked Kesva and Kowethas are currently obtainable from Kowethas an Yeth www.cornish-language.org

You will also need to subscribe to Kowethas an Yeth at www.cornish-language.org to obtain ‘An Gannas’. 

As you can see above, the Fourth Grade is a very intense course and success requires many hours of work. It is therefore recommended that the student take 2 academic years to complete the course.

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