[Spellyans] Llawlyfr Cernyweg Canol by Lewis

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Wed Jun 9 08:56:39 IST 2010

The alien appearance of KK played a major role in my rejecting it  
(there were other factors as well).  The universal K, rejecting C  
before back vowels, L and R, produced what seemed to me to be a very  
Germanic look.  The C-K distinction in written Cornish was, I think,  
unique in the Brythonic languages - Welsh and Cumbric use C  
throughout, whilst Breton chose K (can anyone tell me if Breton ever  
wrote C for the hard consonant, and is its universal K a recent  
modification?).  In this regard, Cornish did follow English practice  
which the devisers of KK despised and rejected, but is that really a  
valid reason to reject what Cornish scribes wrote over several  

The sheer numbers of geminate M and N in KK was overpowering,  
unnecessary, and made the language aesthetically ugly.  "Kammbronn" is  
an oft-cited example (where Cornish scribes used "Cambron" over seven  
centuries).  The SWF has moderated that problem to a reasonable extent.

 From my perspective, KW looked like 'skoolboy' spelling.  There was  
no need to introduce this graph but, again, there appeared to be a  
despising of English practice with QU (which was adopted into Cornish  
through Latin and Norman-French).  QU in Unified Cornish was  
problematic in that mutation required both letters to be altered  
('gwary' > 'ow quary').  During the SWF process, I suggested we alter  
this graph to QW (nicely convenient on a QWERTY keyboard), in the hope  
that it would be accepted.  Sadly, the so-called Main Form (or, as I  
call it, SWF/K) rejected it and retained the awful KW. QW was used by  
Jordan and Jenner, so had a Cornish pedigree.  As I can't think of any  
other language that uses it, it would be a uniquely Cornish graph.   
Thankfully, SWF/T and KS were happy to adopt it.

HW is another KK graph that I simply can't live with.  It isn't  
Cornish (nor is KW which I believe occurs just once in all the  
available texts).  Lhuyd used it twice (I think) in his phonetic  
script, more often writing HU.  When used in a modern context, both  
invite mispronunciation.  Lhuyd's 'huel', a mine, invites "hyoo-el" -  
and I've even heard that.  Again WH was despised as "English" but,  
again, that was no reason to reject it.  To bring in graphs like KW  
and HW and then to say, 'they're Cornish', when they clearly aren't  
was unacceptable to me.  Despising the origins of certain graphs in  
this way rather smacks of linguistic ethnic cleansing.  By extension,  
would the people responsible rather abandon the use of the Roman  
alphabet?  What would they do?  Adopt Ogam (because it does occur on 5  
Cornish inscribed stones)?  There'd be problems there - being a Gaelic  
script, Ogam doesn't have a symbol for P, for example!

Other items of KK are more acceptable to me.  I have no objection to  
<oe> for the short 'oo'.  'Goen' (downland), 'woeles' (lower) - the  
latter is traditionally pronounced "woolus" - are probably the most  
common spellings of the words in historic place-name records.  Nor do  
I have any real problem with final -i.  Again, in historic place- 
names, "chi" (house) is very common.  In the SWF, this gives an easy  
transition to the Late variant, chi > chei.  (However, if you try to  
type "i" [they], the computer will annoyingly adjust it to a capital I  
when you're not looking!)

I've often been criticised for disliking KK, but my accusers rarely  
ask WHY I dislike it.

I have never seen Lewis's book - is it available on the Internet?


On 8 Efn 2010, at 23:29, A. J. Trim wrote:

> In my opinion, Llawlyfr Cernyweg Canol by Lewis is well worth a read.
> Of course, it is out of date and full of errors, and it's in Welsh -  
> but the Welsh is mostly quite easy to follow. This book is unusual  
> in that Lewis did not try to re-spell Cornish but presents it as he  
> found it. To an extent, that makes it purer, and you should feel  
> more in touch with the language after reading it. It makes KK look  
> very alien.
> Regards,
> Andrew J. Trim
> From: ewan wilson
> Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 2010 10:39 PM
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] An SWF glossary & Unified versus SWF
> Eddie,
> I think you have hit the nail on the head for why many of us are  
> instinctivelt attracted to UC ( and UCR, for that matter!) Its  
> grammar and orthography IS largely a standardising exercise and  
> combined with UCR's vocabulary enrichment one feels it really is  
> reflecting how the language worked and was used.
> As for the large corpus of UC literature it would seem silly  
> deliberately to cut oneself off from it by going for a quite altered  
> orthography. However I must also be honest and say I find the idea  
> of the Late Cornish very appealling too. Lots of hard research have  
> gone into it and one senses it IS the language of the later speakers  
> with whom it is putting us in touch.
> Would others agree that in some ways the UC/UCR- LC distinction  
> parallels the difference we find in Welsh between the Colloquial and  
> the Literary registers, or is there a bigger gulf?
> Anyway, it's good to know that if I continue with UC/UCR ( my own  
> favourite, I guess) it won't all be for nothing.
> Anyone have experience of the old Llawlyfr Cernyweg Canol by Lewis?  
> I know it's in Welsh but is it any good in its analysis of  
> MiddleCornish, and how does it tie in with UC? Or is it largely a  
> waste of money?
> Ewan.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Eddie Climo
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 2010 5:52 PM
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] An SWF glossary & Unified versus SWF
> On 8 Efn 2010, at 16:29, Ray Chubb wrote:
>> Unified should not be looked at from a totally linguistic point of  
>> view.
> Agreed, but UC can stand up to such scrutiny. The group of people  
> who collaborated on designing UC were fine linguists who crafted  
> well. Moreover, their hearts were in the right place: not for them  
> the factional back-stabbing we've seen far too much of over the last  
> quarter century.
>> Nance's original aim of using an orthography based on historical  
>> Cornish at its zenith, simply standardising out some  
>> irregularities, is still a valid one and will remain an attractive  
>> one to future generations who have put some thought into which form  
>> of Cornish they are going to learn.
> Indeed. Unlike some forms of Revived Cornish, UC has stood the test  
> of time, and given Kernewegoryon over 80 years of valuable service.  
> It is, in my opinion, the classic form of revived Middle Cornish,  
> and is as valid now as it was when launched all those years ago. Its  
> designers have earned an honoured place in the history of our  
> language, unlike some of today's wannabes.
> Moreover, it has a massive literature that has built up over that  
> period, and the reality is that —despite the efforts of modern  
> bowdlerisers and plagiarists in the KKesva, and elsewhere— most of  
> it will never be republished in any other orthography. Anyone who  
> aspires to 'Tota Cornicitas' cannot simply wish that corpus away.
> In the face of this large corpus of UC, Kernewegoryon now and in the  
> years to come will be obliged (at the very least) to read UC, even  
> if they choose not to write it.
> Perhaps the same might be said by future generations (post 2013)  
> about the substantial (and growing corpus) of KS literature that is  
> currently being created.
>> Therefore Christian's opinion that Unified will only last until the  
>> current users die out could well be mistaken.
> I very much suspect it is mistaken. I, for one, love UC and will  
> continue to study and write in it.
> Gwren ny perthy cof a un poynt a skyans a glewas Jowan Chy an Horth  
> y'n whethel mur y vry:
>> "Kemer wyth na wreta gasa an forth coth rak an forth noweth."
> Eddie Foirbeis Climo
> - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -
> Dres ethom akennow byner re bo lyeshes
> Accenti non multiplicandi praeter necessitatem
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Craig Weatherhill

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