[Spellyans] chair

Eddie Climo eddie_climo at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Jul 19 09:17:36 IST 2009

I agree, Craig, and would like to make a few further points.

1. There are cognates to K. cadar in at least 4 of the other 5 Celtic  
Br. kador
IG. cathaoir (+ suíochán)
SG. cathair (+ suidheachan, seuthan)
W. cadair

That would make cadar a perfectly respectable interpolation into RC,  
even if it were totally unattested.

2. Of course, K. cadar is an attested Cornish word, even if only in  

3. Cadar is in universal use in Revived Cornish, and has been so for  
generations. Indeed, along with chayr and scavel, it is found in all  
of the RC dictionaries I've consulted, including Williams, Nance,  
Gendall and Kennedy.

Gendall  gives attestations for the word in Thomas Tonkin (TT), place  
names (PN), and miscellaneous Traditional (TR) sources ("Traditional  
sources per dialect dictionaries Jago, Thomas, Courtney, Couch,  
Sandys, Smith, Batten, Index Institute of Cornish Studies, & words  
directly communicated to Editor"). True, he does restrict cadar to  
such things as a professorial chair, or the Chair of a meeting, but  
it's hardly overstretching the word to use it to denote what the  
professorial/chairwomanly rump rests on in addition to their exalted  

If we can admit new words for new things, such as pellwolok and  
dywyver for 'television' and 'wireless', then we can hardly cavill at  
a possibly-new usage register for cadar 'chair'.

4. Statistical arguments about language usage are only mathematically  
valid if they're carried out on a statistically representative sample  
of the language. The historical corpus of Cornish is far too small and  
fragmentary --and far too slanted towards mediaeval religious plays!--  
to be anything like an unbiased sample of the historical language.

(Ironically, the only place we find a more representative sample of  
Cornish usage in a fuller range of styles and registers is in the  
Revived corpus, rather than the historical one!)

Therefore, we cannot safely rely on (statistical) statements such as:

> "This word is historically attested X times, while that word only Y  
> times. Therefore, we must use the 'commoner' word."

> "This word is only found in place-names, so it can't be adopted into  
> general use."

> "This word is only found in the OCV, so it would be anachronistic to  
> include it in RC."

> "This noun is never found lenited, so we must avoid using it where  
> it would require lenition."

Eddie Climo

On 19 Gor 2009, at 07:22, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> What I'm trying to say, Michael, is that, although chayr is used the  
> word used in the texts, it has to be emphasised that these are the  
> texts that we are lucky enough to have.  We are drawing on an  
> incomplete source.  So, it's my case that place-names should be  
> viewed as "textual" evidence, as well.  Chayr appears in some of  
> those, too, such as Carn Cheer, Chair Ladder, so this alternative  
> was also good enough for place-names.
> We also have 'tuttyn', "stool" ('Tutton Harry an Lader', N. Boson.   
> This is now Chair Ladder); scavel, "stool"; scaun, "bench".  What is  
> now Irish Lady Zawn, between Sennen Cove and Land's End was Savyn an  
> Skanow 1580 - I think this is 'scaunyow', "benches".  The foot of  
> the cliff on either side, under Pedn'men-du to the north and Carn- 
> men-ellas to the south, takes the shape of massive benches.
> I expect there are other words but that's what I can think of right  
> now.
> Craig
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