[Spellyans] The Cornish for All Saints' Day

Jon Mills j.mills at email.com
Thu Feb 5 12:28:59 GMT 2009

SWF ollsens is from GKK ollsens. George gives Tregear as the source of
this item, "All Saints" as its translation equivalent, and labels it "PL",
plural. In Tregear (Homily 39) the phrase "communyon an hollsens"
translates Bonner's 'the communion of saynctes'.Jon

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "nicholas williams"
  To: "Standard Cornish discussion list"
  Subject: [Spellyans] The Cornish for All Saints' Day
  Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 11:44:04 +0000

  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 bechanged to masc. sing. here.Breton an
  Hollsent is itself a calque on French la Toussaint, which is feminine
  The only attested word for 'All Saints' Day' in Cornish is (in KS
  spelling) De Halan Gwâv. This occurs in thefamous 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 inEglos De Lalant, viz. upon all
  hallow day late paste about the mydds of the service in the parish
  church of LalantMoryshe David’s wife and Cicely James came into the
  church of Lalant together and in chiding with words togetherCycely
  called Agnes Davey whore and whore bitch in English and not in
  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. thefeast of the Conception of the BVM (this
  latter is the English name in the Book of Common Prayer). The
  festival iscelebrated 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).

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  Spellyans at kernowek.net

Dr. Jon Mills,
School of European Culture and Languages,
University of Kent

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