[Spellyans] chair

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sun Jul 19 10:04:31 IST 2009


Place-names are not textual evidence, nor should they be used as such.
Words survive in toponyms that have long since gone out of use in the  
spoken language
and the spoken language is what we are interested in here.
The Irish word inis 'island' (Cornish enys) is well attested in place- 
names, Inishmore, Inishbiggle, etc.
but it is not used to mean 'island' in speech, being replaced by oileán.

Similarly the word muir 'sea' (Cornish mor) is well attested in  
geographical names, e.g. Muir nIocht 'the Channel', and in fossilised  
phrases snáth mara 'high water mark", Réalt na Mara 'Star of the  
Sea' (title in the Litany of the BVM), but muir is not used in Irish  
for 'sea', where it is replaced by farraige. Nor is it used for 'sea'  
in Scottish Gaelic, where it is replaced by cuan, nor in Manx where it  
is replaced by keayn.

Cadar is exactly comparable. It is an obsolete word in Cornish. It is  
found only in place-names, but not in everyday speech, where
it is replaced by chair. Indeed chair has been the ordinary word for  
'chair' in Cornish for so long that there are even place names  
containing chair rather than cadar.

Nicholas

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

> So, it's my case that place-names should be viewed as "textual"  
> evidence, as well.

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