The Linguist

The Linguist 52,5

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 23 of 35

FEATURES Minority rising Following the victory of a small company banned from selling a book in Cornish on Amazon, Claire Nevill asks if publishers can protect minority languages 'There is no better preparation for a multilingual world than having two languages in your own life and community,' states Movyans Skolyow Meythrin (the Cornish Nursery Schools Movement), as part of their mission. Among some of the English/Cornish books on offer to children at their bilingual nursery are Ple'ma Spot? and Tales from Porth. But, with the number of speakers of Cornish and other minority languages in the UK growing, does the publishing and bookselling industry have the capacity to keep up? Diglot Books was set up in 2010. What started out as a venture to publish a bilingual alphabet book in parallel text soon turned into a small publishing agency. 'We started publishing in Dutch, Spanish and French but we soon found, after publishing in Welsh, that minority languages are a captive market,' says its Director, Alison O'Dornan. Welsh is their most popular language, and O'Dornan attributes this to the work of the Welsh Book Council and the reinstatement of the language in the school curriculum. 'We sell copies to schools, libraries and they're enormously popular with parents, some of whom haven't grown up speaking Welsh and now learn it alongside their children with our books.' After seeing that Diglot had published in Welsh, Stephen Gadd, a school teacher and translator from Camborne, contacted O'Dornan last year with the idea of publishing in Cornish. She decided to trial Diglot's most popular title, Matthew and the Wellington Boots, as an e-book in Cornish. 'The translation process took about four to five months, from initial translation to 24 The Linguist OCTOBER/NOVEMBER proofreading and getting the typeset right,' explains Gadd, who is studying level 4 Cornish at City Lit in Central London. His teacher, Polin Prys, recorded the audio book version of the Matthew text. 'The combination of text and audio made it a beautiful learning resource for children and we were very proud of it,' says Gadd. But after submitting the book to the Kindle store Diglot received a notification from Amazon that 'the book is in a language that is not currently supported by Kindle Direct Publishing'. 'I didn't feel Cornish was being singled out,' says Gadd, 'as Kindle seemed to support a strange mixture of mainstream and minority languages. They didn't support Dutch or Welsh but yet they publish texts in Basque and Galician.' According to a Web3Techs study in March 2013, Russian is now the second most used language on the web – yet Kindle don't currently support character-based languages and aren't able to meet the overwhelming demand for texts in the language. 'With Cornish using exactly the same character set as English, we felt it was just very narrow-minded that Amazon was refusing to publish it,' says O'Dornan. 'So we sent out a press release and started tweeting about it. Before long this spiralled and our campaign gathered momentum.' Diglot Books' petition soon generated enough publicity to get Amazon's attention and, before long, they relented without further explanation and Matthew ha'n Eskisyow Glaw was made available from the Kindle Store. On top of this victory, Diglot's campaign succeeded in raising public awareness of Cornish as a linguistic force to be reckoned with. On their Twitter feed, many people admitted they were discovering Cornish for the first time, while international orders for Matthew… started to come in. The case of Cornish Cornish was revived as a living, spoken language in the early 20th century by Henry Jenner, a Celtic scholar who published the Handbook of the Cornish Language based

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