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

Craig Weatherhill weatherhill at freenet.co.uk
Sat Jul 26 19:53:14 IST 2008

Just back from the first day of the show (went really well and very good 
weather, too).  In Welsh, nant, tends to mean "river" but, in Cornish, 
OC nant, MC nans is valley, presumably "river valley".  However, we do 
have phrases such as "war nans" meaning "downward".  "Owth yskynnans bre 
Cambron, war nans" ("Going up Camborne Hill, coming down") is one 
example (referring to Trevithick's test run of his steam car).

Of course, there are various other words for "valley" in Cornish, just 
as there are several for "stream, watercourse".  Where  keep my horse 
has such a name: Higher Bostraze.  The "straze" element is OC strad (W. 
ystrad), MC stras, "flat-bottomed valley".  In that particular location 
the term is extremely appropriate.  It is near the head of the stream 
that runs from Porth Ledden (just N of Cape Cornwall) and, towards its 
source is a fairly narrow, steep-sided valley.  However, above Lower 
Bostraze, and getting close to the stream's source in the marshes by the 
famous Bog Inn (which, incidentally, still survives as a ruin just 
outside our fields), the valley opens out into a wide bowl, with a 
broad, flat bottom, and surrounded on all sides bar the outlet valley by 


Eddie Climo wrote:
> On 26 Jul 2008, at 10:35, nicholas williams wrote:
>> Why *Jowann rather than Jowan?
> Soweth, my a wruk y gamlytherenna. Drok yu genef!
>> .In UC this would be written <menydhyow> and indeed it is so written.
> Re'm barf! Camlytherennans aral. Drok dobyl yu genef!
>> The word nans is used in adverbial phrases (war nans, yn nans) in the 
>> texts. It is never used to mean 'valley'.
> 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.
> Be that as it may, for E./ 'valley/', Nance's 1938 dictionary gives 
> '/nans/, anciently /nant/', and Williams' 2006 one gives '/nans; 
> valy'. /And when two of the greatest lexicographers of the Revival 
> agree, who am I to differ? (. . . especially as it's UC/UCR that I'm 
> learning!)
> :-)
> Moreover, /'valy'/ would not have given the bilingual 'triple 
> entendre' of /*nancily/, a tawdry /gwary war eryow// /which I was 
> unable to resist.
> I'm glad you appear to find no fault with the linguistic arguments of 
> the posting, however.
> Eddie
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