njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Jun 23 11:55:38 IST 2010
Neil and I hardly knew one another when he wrote his review and I have
since explained what my thinking was in writing the English-Cornish
dictionary. It was and remains perfectly obvious to me that Cornish
does not need an exact equivalent for every English word in every
context. It was also clear to me that certain elements in the revival
were attempting to invent or devise words for Cornish (largely on the
basis of Breton). Since this was so and the attempts were not always
completely acceptable, it seemed a good idea to me to circumvent such
ad hoc devisers of terminology and suggest words coherently and
rationally. I know I wasn't wholly (possibly not even largely)
successful but I did provide a lexicon, which for all its faults,
advanced the use of Cornish by suggesting words where none existed
previously. Some of my suggestions have indeed gained general
currency. The word Kescowethyans 'Partnership' is, I believe, mine as
is kesassoylyans 'compromise'. I notice also that Rod Lyon uses
awedhyans 'influence' in the phrase in dadn awedhyans alcohol 'under
the influence of alcohol'. Awedhyans is my coinage on the basis of
aweth 'watercourse', and was suggested by Welsh dylanwad.
Somebody on this list has suggested that as an Englishman I am not
sensitive (as a member of the 'imperialist oppressor' nation) to the
Celtic dislike of English borrowings. This is not only insulting, it
is just plain silly.
Cornish is full of English borrowings that the Cornish were probably
not aware of as borrowings, e.g. nefra 'never', hernen 'pilchard'.
Moreover speakers do not when talking or writing say, "Mustn't use
that, an English borrowing". Besides Celtic nationalism in the modern
sense is a recent phenomenon. In medieval and reformation times people
did not think in nationalist categories. The absence in former times
of Celtic nationalist sentiment is clear in the British Empire which
was created, sustained and administered as much by the Scots, and and
the Welsh as by the English. Just think of the names: Nova Scotia in
Canada, Dunedin (Edinburgh) in New Zealand and New South Wales in
Australia. Celtic nationalism has arisen only since the empire has
In Ireland, where I have lived since 1968, the main force for
anglicisation has not been the English (who left in 1922), but
elements in the native establishment.
Tregear uses English borrowings, not because he wants to offend his
nationalist parishioners, but because he wants to impress on them how
learned he is.
When talking about borrowings it is important to distinguish between
words borrowed and assimilated to Cornish phonetic type, like trailya
'to turn', qwestyon, pl. qwestyonow 'question', jùnya 'to join' on the
one hand and words used holus bolus in their unassimilated form.
For my own part when translating into Cornish, which I do quite a bit,
I always try to situate an obvious borrowing like confessya or
ùnderstondya, for example, in a context where there are noother
obvious borrowings. This is a question of sensitivity and style.
As Dan says, most of the English borrowings are in earlier Middle
Cornish. For example, in the first four stanzas of PA, one finds the
following borrowings from English:
re wronte (< graunt 'to grant'); y basconn (< pascon 'passion');
rebekis (< rebuk 'to rebuke'); dyspresijs (< dispraise 'to despise');
fastis (< faste'to fasten'); virtu (< virtu 'virtue'); zyttyas (<
dyghte 'to dight, arrange'); paynys (< paines 'pains); zeserya (<
desir 'to desire); mevijs (meve 'to move'). Indeed there are more
borrowings in PA than in either Rowe or Nicholas Boson's writing.
On 23 Efn 2010, at 09:15, Ray Chubb wrote:
> Neil suggested that Nicholas had gone too far in trying to find a
> suitable word for every single word of English when in fact Cornish
> words have a wide range of meanings.
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