[Spellyans] <y>, <i>, etc

Craig Weatherhill weatherhill at freenet.co.uk
Sat Jul 26 19:58:55 BST 2008

Apart, of course, from place-names.  I look upon historical and attested 
place-name elements as textual evidence.  Awan, "river" does survive in 
a small handful of names.  Nans survives in a great many.  Steval 
appears in just one place-name but, in my opinion, these examples 
qualify each word as genuine, attested and acceptable to the Cornish 
vocabulary.  I don't feel that we have to discard them simply because 
they do not appear in scribal texts.  For me, toponymic evidence is just 
as valid.


nicholas williams wrote:
> I agree I followed Nance in my dictionary and cited nans 'valley', but 
> I should be reluctant to do so now.
> I do not dispute that the word nans occurs in toponyms to mean 
> 'valley'. Of course it does.
> Nans is attested in the texts in adverbial phrases only. The only word 
> for 'valley' is in connected traditional Cornish is valy.
> It is quite common that an old word survives in toponyms but is lost 
> in speech.
> The word auon 'flumen, fluvius' occurs in OCV and is cited by Lhuyd as 
> auan. It is unattested in the texts, however,
> where 'river' is either ryver (BM and TH) or dowr (RD, BK). 
> I am reminded of the IE word for 'sea' which is muir in Old Irish but 
> has been replaced (except in fossilised phrases) in speech
> by farraige in Irish and by cuan and keayn in Scottish Gaelic and 
> Manx. I think also of the Celtic word for 'island'  inis < *inista-
> in Irish, which occurs in toponyms but has been replaced in speech by 
> oileán (not a borrowing from English by the way).
> Given that nans is unattested outside toponyms and adverbial phrases, 
> I no longer use it in prose (verse would be a different matter).
> I avoid nans 'valley' for the same reason that I avoid enep 'face', 
> stevel 'room', kenedhel 'nation', etc.
> i.e. because we have no evidence for any of them in either Middle or 
> Late Cornish.
> Nicholas
>> Upon checking, I find that in Craig Wetherill's various writings on 
>> Cornish place-names, he cites amongst others /Trenant, Trenans, Nant 
>> Gover, Nant Wedhen, Nans Bèrres, Nans Kersys, Nans Fenten./ It's 
>> difficult to see what else this means other than 'valley'; and I know 
>> of no good reason to reject a straightforward toponymic lexeme like 
>> this for everyday use in revived Cornish.
>> It's hard to imagine traditional Cornish speakers restricting the use 
>> of the word nans/nant exclusively to toponyms and adverbial phrases, 
>> and all refusing to use it as a simple noun (especially as there's no 
>> such restriction on its cognates in Welsh and Breton). But, even if 
>> they did, nans/nant=valley is a perfectly respectable lexeme to add 
>> to the revived lexicon.
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