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by Henry Jenner
'Why should Cornishmen learn Cornish?' asked Henry Jenner (1848-1934) in the preface to this 1904 publication, dating from the beginnings of the Cornish revival. Jenner admits that 'the reason ... is sentimental and not in the least practical'. Born in Cornwall, but raised in south-east England, Jenner worked at the British Museum from 1870 to 1909 and was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He eventually retired to Cornwall where he became a leading figure in establishing the Old Cornwall Societies and the Gorseth Kernow. The Handbook begins by marshalling the evidence for the use of the Cornish language from the middle ages to the eighteenth century, and listing the manuscripts and books in which it is preserved. It describes the uncertainties surrounding spelling and pronunciation, and the complex system of initial consonant mutations, before explaining the parts of speech. It also includes a fascinating chapter on names.