Claims that the Cornish language is dead, or at least the Cornish dialect, has not gone down well in the county.

The Celtic dialect has been branded “extinct” by Unesco's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger along with Manx and needed help if they were to survive the 21st century.

Unesco director-general Koichiro Matsuura said: “The death of a language leads to the disappearance of many forms of intangible cultural heritage, especially the invaluable heritage of traditions and oral expressions of the community that spoke it – from poems and legends to proverbs and jokes."

Unesco claimed there were just 300 fluent speakers of Cornish left in the world.

Not so said Jenefer Lowe, development manager of the Cornish Language Partnership. Reports of the language becoming extinct were premature, she said.

“Saying Cornish is extinct implies there are no speakers and the language is dead, which it isn't,” she said.

There had been a growing number of Cornish speakers and in the past 20 years the revival of the language has really gathered momentum.”

Cornish is now taught in many schools and at adult education classes, and has a strong following, particularly in the west of the county.