[Spellyans] The Cornish for All Saints' Day

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Thu Feb 5 11:56:55 GMT 2009

Even in West Cornish dialect, All Saint's Day was "Hallantide" or  
"Allentide", with Allen (Hallan) apples being associated with it.


On 5 Whe 2009, at 11:44, nicholas williams wrote:

> In his dictionary of the SWF Dan has Ollsens 'All Hallows'. This has  
> been borrowed from Breton Hollsent.
> Dan gives the word as plural. This is not, I think, correct. In  
> Breton it is singular.
> The sense is 'All Saints' Day', and refers to the feast day rather  
> than 'all the saints'. I think pl. should be
> changed to masc. sing. here.
> Breton an Hollsent is itself a calque on French la Toussaint, which  
> is feminine singular.
> The only attested word for 'All Saints' Day' in Cornish is (in KS  
> spelling) De Halan Gwâv. This occurs in the
> famous entry of 1572 in the Exeter Consistory Court depositions:
> Wm Hawysche, of Lelant, tynner, from birth resident, aged 40, sayeth  
> that upon Dew Whallan Gwa Metten in
> Eglos De Lalant, viz. upon all hallow day late paste about the mydds  
> of the service in the parish church of Lalant
> Moryshe David’s wife and Cicely James came into the church of Lalant  
> together and in chiding with words together
> Cycely called Agnes Davey whore and whore bitch in English and not  
> in Cornowok.
> All Saints' Day is the first of November and was a way of  
> Christianising the beginning of the pagan Celtic winter.
> In my own dictionary under All Saints I give De Halan Gwaf (UCR)  
> first and Ollsens second.
> The attested De Halann Gwav (?*Dy'Halann Gwav) does not appear to be  
> in the Gerlyvrik but
> the unattested Ollsens is. And it is wrongly given as plural.
> Incidentally the foreword to Alys in Pow an Anethow I dated Degol  
> Maria kyns Nadelyk, i.e. the
> feast of the Conception of the BVM (this latter is the English name  
> in the Book of Common Prayer). The festival is
> celebrated on the 8th December. The Cornish version is my calque on  
> Irish Lá Fhéile Muire roimh Nollaig 'the festival of the BVM before  
> Christmas',
> and neatly sidesteps any theological questions about Our Lady's  
> conception (for those anoraks who could care less).
> Nicholas
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Craig Weatherhill

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