[Spellyans] Cornish words, or Foreign ones?

Eddie Climo eddie_climo at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Oct 19 17:56:50 BST 2008

While I accept the importance of attestation in our Revived Cornish  
lexicon, there is a fundamental problem which leaves me deeply  
puzzled and uneasy. It is, in short, that the source texts do not  
mark a word or passage as being (a)Cornish, (b)unassimilated non- 
Cornish, (c)non-Cornish with some degree of assimilation. We can only  
arrive at these conclusions, I assume, by deduction, by assumption,  
or perhaps by guesswork.

For instance, in 'Bewnans Ke' (Thomas/Williams), we find many such  
lines as this
> Teutharus
> ...
> 16. A, out warnas, traytor puer!

We notice that Teutharus is exceedingly fond of 'out!', and often  
utters a whole string of them. Both Nance and Williams offer us K.  
'owt' as an interjection, but I imagine no-one would recommend the  
use of this word in modern sentences like:
> *My a vyn mos owt dhe'n dre. (I will go out to the town).
But what about 'traytor'? Both Nance and Williams give these entries:
> traitor. traytour, fals-gwas, brasyer
So K. owt can only be used in a very limited sense, while K. traytour  
presumably) is different. Puzzling.

Then, if we look at Tregear, we find another pattern that's just as  
puzzling. From Keith Syed's revision of Christopher Bice's  
transcription at
> http://wikisource.org/wiki/Homelyes_XIII_in_Cornysche
we find 'doublets' like this which occur quite frequently, such as  
these from the 1st Homily:

'... preysse the du neb o y gwrer ha creator ...
.... eff a alsa creatya ha gull mab den ...
.... Gesow ny the wull den the gan similitud ha hevelep ny ...

 From these, we can see that
> gwrer = creator
> creatya = gull
> similitud = hevelep.

Is it fair to say that these form a rhetorical device of [Cornish  
word + English synonym], or must we assume that it's actually  
[Cornish word + assimiliated English word]?

Tregear doesn't tell us, but I'd be uneasy at using freely the likes  
of 'creator', 'creatya' and 'similitud' in everyday Cornish.

Equally, what about this phrase from the same Homily:
> an tas a vsias solempnyty bras, ha lowre notabyll sircumstans.
What do we assume about 'solempnyty' and (with its English lexicon  
and syntax) 'notabyll sircumstans'?

Eddie Foirbeis Climo
- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -
Dres ethom akennow byner re bons lyeshes
Accenti non multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

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