[Spellyans] Blejyow or Flowrys?

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Sun May 30 18:12:27 BST 2010

Indeed, dowr is used in river names, i.e. English would say 'River  
Fal' but Cornish would say 'Dowr Fala'.  Also names such as 'Chy an  
Dour' probably translate as 'house at the stream'.

If a word occurs in a Cornish (or Irish) tononym, then where did that  
word come from, if not the language itself?  We have so little of  
historical written Cornish that one simply can't reject a word  
because,in what does survive, there is only one attestation.  Blegyow  
'flowers', from the Passion Poem, is one such example.  We can't just  
reject it because it only occurs once (as far as we know).  That it  
occurs at all is the essential point.  <Flourys> appears to be the  
'ordinary word' in the few texts that survive but was it so in the  
total? We'll never know but I think it's dangerous to draw conclusions  
from insufficient evidence survival.  Which is where toponymic  
elements come in very useful.  They, too, are there because Cornish  
speakers and writers used those words and for no other reason.  All  
must be included in tota Cornicitas.

I am happy to use <awan> or <ryver>; flowr> or <blejen>.  Their  
existence in traditional Cornish is beyond doubt, and the choice gives  
the advantage of allowing extensions of vocabulary, so useful in  
written Cornish especially, where one doesn't want to keep using one  
word where alternatives are available..


On 30 Me 2010, at 17:12, nicholas williams wrote:

> There is a problem herre, however. Because a word occurs in  
> toponyms, it does not follow that it was a living word in the Middle  
> and Late language.
> Look at the parallel in Irish. The inherited word for 'sea' is muir,  
> but muir occurs only in toponyms e.g. Muir nIocht 'the Channel', an  
> Mhuir Rua 'the Red Sea'. The ordinary word for 'sea' is farraige in  
> Irish and cuan in Scottish Gaelic.
> The Irish word inis is the inherited word for 'island' but it has  
> been entirely replaced in speech by oileán. So one says Inis Mór  
> 'Inishmore' but san oileán 'on the island'.
> Awan, Awen (not avon) may be attested in Cornish hydronymy, but that  
> is not the same as saying that awan is the ordinary word for  
> 'river'; it is not. River is ryver, and in river names one finds  
> dowr Hombyr 'the river Humber', dowr Tyber 'the river Tiber' in the  
> texts.
> Blodon 'flower' is in OC but the plural blejyow is attested only in  
> dewsull blegyow 'Palm Sunday' in the Passion Poem. The ordinary word  
> for 'flowers' was flourys.
> Nicholas
> Words in OC are a legitimate part of the vocabulary and by the  
> principle of tota Cornicitas must be allowed.
> On 30 Me 2010, at 16:45, Craig Weatherhill wrote:
>> I have tried to convince people that Cornish place-name elements  
>> must be included as 'textual evidence' because: 1) they exist, and  
>> therefore: 2) they must have been used in spoken and written Cornish.
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Craig Weatherhill

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