[Spellyans] treven as the plural of chy

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Dec 31 12:48:43 GMT 2008

It has recently been suggested that treven may be a singulative, and  
not therefore be the plural of chy 'house'.
There can be no doubt that treven is indeed the suppletive plural of  
chy. Here are some examples:

Neb a garra y das po y vam, y vab po y virth, chy, trevyn po tyrryow,  
moy agesa ve, y myth crist 'Who ever loves his father or mother, his  
son or his daughter, house, houses or land more than me, says Christ…'  
TH 21a
Ke oagoaze tha e drevon ha bethow why looan 'Draw unto his houses and  
be joyful'  Thomas Boson (translation of Psalm 100)
Na dale deiw gwell treaven war an treath 'You ought not build houses  
on the sand' John Jenkins
Domus…An house, a lodging, a dwelling… C. Tshyi [plur Treven] Lhuyd  
AB: 55c.

The form *chyow (KS *chiow) is unattested.

Treven is probably indeed a singulative of tref, trevow 'town, village'.
ha gensy y feth tra dek  maners trefov castylly 'and with her there  
will be fine possessions, manors, towns and castles'  BM 304-05 (said  
to Meriasek as an incentive to marry the duke's daughter).
treven then could be understood as 'a portion of a town > a row of  
houses > houses'.
Indeed in this suppletive plural we may see a reflection of the  
distinctively nucleated settlement
patterns of Western Cornwall (The element ti, chy is almost wholly  
absent from toponyms in East Cornwall).

Suppletive plurals are found elsewhere in Cornish.
The obvious example is tra 'thing', plural taclow, taclennow.
*Traow is attested twice in Lhuyd, but not anywhere in native Cornish.
Compare also coscar 'company, lads' as a suppletive plural of maw 'lad'
in ha parcel a throk coscar 'a bunch of evil lads' BM 2358.

It seems that trevow may itself sometimes be used to refer generally  
to 'houses' in the plural.
This is perhaps why Tregear says:
In delma oll gouernans gwlasow, an pow, an Trevow marras, han trevow  
'Thus all governance of kingdoms, the countryside, the towns and the  
dwelling houses…' TH 25a.

Neither *chiow nor *traow has any place in the revived language.
Forms in -tiow, -jiow are acceptable in compounds, however, in  
clâvjiow 'hospitals', bowjiow 'cowsheds'.
I prefer not to use  it in *arhantty 'bank', *arhantiow, because I  
prefer bank, bancow; cf. banknota 'bank note' used by
Caradar in Nebes Whethlow Ber. *Arhantty seems a particularly unhappy  
coinage by Nance, because arhans
in Cornish always means 'silver'; the word for 'money' is mona:

Ni venja pea a munna seer John Jenkins
ha Mona lour gans goz Gureg Williams Gwavas
Pecunia…Money, coin…C. Monnah Lhuyd AB: 115c.

I also prefer shoppa, shoppys 'shop' to *gwerthjy, *gwerthjiow. Shoppa  
is attested in the toponym
Ponson Joppa. *Gwerthjy is an invention of Nance's.
I prefer the attested tavarn (BM, Lhuyd) to *dewotty, again an  
invention of Nance's.


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