[Spellyans] vocabulary

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Wed Jun 23 12:10:00 IST 2010

Richard Gendall has remarked on the fact that Late Cornish texts  
contain markedly fewer borrowings from English than do the MC texts.


On 23 Efn 2010, at 11:55, nicholas williams wrote:

> 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 been dismantled.
> 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.
> Nicholas
> 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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Craig Weatherhill

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