[Spellyans] vocabulary

Ceri Young rcr_young at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Jun 22 20:59:20 IST 2010

Although I have no qualifications to chip in, I agree with Craig here (and having itched to comment earlier I'm very glad to read his response). When I hear a comment like Nicholas' "My preference is for the language of the texts rather than for some reCelticised fantasy" I can't help being reminded that to some, the whole Cornish Revival is just one elaborate fantasy of reCelticisation; of salvaging lost Celticity from the desolation of a tragic, sustained, ethnocidal assault. It also then strikes me that it's perfectly natural to regard nurturing those late Anglicisms is somewhat contrary to the general ethos of such a fantasy of reCelticisation. Surely, just because a word is borrowed, doesn't make it a formal part of the language. Welsh speakers will routinely throw English loanwords like the adj. 'grêt' (great) (although they'll be using it as an interjection) into their speech and even write it into informal texts, but that doesn't
 mean 'grêt' is a Welsh word to be found in or even inserted into a Welsh dictionary as a translation of 'great'.
Even if I totally understand the need for the strictest academic rectitude in the revival, I can also see why some might harbour an instinct to purge such late Anglicisms from their own useage of Revived Cornish. It may not be remotely impartial or academic, but I can quite understand an uneasy attitude towards Anglicisms in Celtic languages in general, stemming from a sense of nationhood being established and complete from a given point that precludes influence from a resented imperial oppressor. (Perhaps as an Englishman, Nicholas simply doesn't see or feel this.) As a Welshman, I see the Welsh nation as one of Romano-British origins (and would have assumed the Cornish might be justified in thinking similarly) and so, as Ken George is accused of here, I can understand a bias towards Celtic & Latin words, and some unease towards Anglicisms.
Beyond that, if those Anglicisms entered into Cornish via borrowing and were legitimised by Cornish language users taking them into their linguistic currency, what would be so wrong with Revived Cornish speakers borrowing from Cornish's sister languages (along academic lines of their own) - and legitimising any reCelticisation of their language which they see fit? I guess that simply can't happen until the language is flying naturally of its own accord, and finally out of the hands of academics.
Best wishes,

From: Craig Weatherhill <craig at agantavas.org>
To: spellyans at kernowek.net
Sent: Tue, 22 June, 2010 18:56:22
Subject: [Spellyans] vocabulary

I'm concerned over one or two views that have been expressed re. vocabulary.  On one hand I'm hearing support for tota Cornicitas, and on the other, I'm hearing that a word only attested in OCV and not in the MC/Tudor texts shouldn't be used (stevel being an example that immediately springs to mind; use rom instead is the advice).  I don't agree with this.  Here's an example to illustrate why I think this way.

Dyek (SWF: diek), 'lazy' occurs on OCV as 'dioc', and not in MC at all.  Until the 80s, when Dick Gendall was the first to look at Late Cornish in depth, it was being assumed that the word didn't survive into MC.  In fact, it must have survived into Late Cornish because it turns up in dialect as 'jack'.  So, if the word made it to Late Cornish and dialect, it follows that it must have existed in MC.  We just don't have a text that features it and, let's face it, we only have a fraction of the texts that must once have existed.  Attestation in MC texts supports the use of a word; absence from what survives of the MC texts is not a reason for rejection.  It only tells us that the word isn't found in those few texts; not that it didn't exist.

For me, tota Cornicitas is essential.

I'm afraid that some words being put forward will never find use with me.  I don't see the point of 'valy' for "valley", when so many Cornish words for different types of valley already exist. Nor am I minded to reject lyw/liw (or however we're spelling it) in favour of 'color'.  I want to write Cornish.  I already know English.

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