[Spellyans] Blejyow or Flowrys?

ewan wilson butlerdunnit at ntlworld.com
Mon May 31 23:37:08 BST 2010

Dear Craig,

Thanks for the welcome- in good, tangy Cornish, be it Late or UC!
Prof Glanville Price's research CV sounds fascinating. He sounds to be more 
of a linguist than a literary buff.  Is he still based in Aberystwyth?
Does the Centre for Advanced Celtic Studies not provide any courses, 
research etc on Cornish, either Traditional or Revived ( or even both!)?
If not it's surely a great dereliction! After all, was it not the late Rev 
Prof Caerwyn Williams who had Beunans Ke in his possession? What a treasure!

Neil's 'Nebbaz Gerriow an Moar' sounds very intriguing, especially when 
comparisons to Nance's work is made. I sincerely hope you can persuade him 
to publish it!! Which reminds me to say how much I appreciate your own 
'Cornish Place Names & Language' so beautifully produced by Sigma. I think I 
got mine back in the late 90s when visiting a late friend in Truro. I got it 
in the rather splendid Royal Cornwall Museum shop along with a lovely 
Cornish Language 'slip set' of material produced by Richard Gendall and 
perfect for schools.
The pen drawing of Glasney in  your book - perfect setting for whodunnit!!
At the minute I'm rereading Nicholas' excellent 'Clappya Kernowek' which is 
a very clever fusion of step-by-step grammar and reference work, with lots 
of interesting excerpts from the 'corpus', etc. Reading it lends a real 
sense of that 'Cornish Tang' which marks the tongue out from Welsh.

However I do hope to thereafter get into Tavas A Ragadazow again too as the 
Late version has its own flavour and the grammar's slightly different. 
Hopefully it won't get too confusing! After all, if Norwegian can have 
Bokmal, Nynorsk, Landsmal and Welsh its distinctive Literary and Colloquial 
versions, why not Cornish?!



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Craig Weatherhill" <craig at agantavas.org>
To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 8:26 AM
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Blejyow or Flowrys?

> Ewan,
> I've been remiss in not welcoming you to the Spellyans list, so let me 
> put that right.  Wolcum os ta!
> Prof. Glanville Price's research interests are listed as: Historical 
> French Grammar; Romance linguistics; Channel Isles French; Celtic 
> Sociolinguistics; Cornish.  Does that make him a professional Celticist?
> Neil Kennedy is still active.  Not as much as he was because he's been 
> teaching in Brittany for several years, but is soon returning (I  believe 
> to study for a Doctorate).  Some of us met up with him  recently and he's 
> still keen.  I've been encouraging him to get his  'Nebbaz Gerriow an 
> Moar' published.  If Nance's 'Sea Words' was good,  then this is 
> outstanding (I have a photocopy which is greatly  treasured).
> Craig
> On 30 Me 2010, at 23:10, ewan wilson wrote:
>> Michael,
>> You mention your work on lexical stuff and I wonder if that means  you 
>> are intending eventually to produce a new dictionary. I ask  mainly 
>> because I'm thinking of investing in Nicholas' most recent  (UCR) 
>> dictionary to help me with his New Testament which I'm also  hoping to 
>> acquire. If the latter's going to end up in SWF or KS then  perhaps I 
>> should hold off.
>> My own ultimate aim is to attempt a translation of the Westminster 
>> Confession of Faith and Shorter Catechism into Cornish. I've made a 
>> start to the Catechism but it's halting work!! Is the Book of Common 
>> Prayer available in Cornish?
>> Gorhemmynadow a'n gwella,
>> Ewan.
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Everson" 
>> <everson at evertype.com
>> >
>> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
>> Sent: Sunday, May 30, 2010 9:35 PM
>> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Blejyow or Flowrys?
>>> On 30 May 2010, at 18:11, janicelobb at tiscali.co.uk wrote:
>>>> Will somebody please explain to my limited intelligence why, if  two 
>>>> words are known to have existed for something, we have to  ration 
>>>> ourselves to one.
>>> It's a good question, Jan. What Nicholas has been saying that he 
>>> believes that the context of word usage is important. In Old  Cornish --  
>>> a different language from Middle/Late Cornish (which are  two ends of 
>>> the spectrum of registers of a single language) -- the  word "enep" is 
>>> attested with the meaning 'page' (of a book). A good  word. It's not 
>>> attested in Old Cornish as meaning "a person's  face", though. The word 
>>> that we know Cornish speakers did use for  that is the very widely 
>>> attested [fæːs] (in KS spelling fâss).
>>> Nance, for some reason (Nicholas suggests that it was purism or 
>>> archaism), decided he didn't want to recommend "fâss" for 'face',  but 
>>> rather "enep". Nance didn't suppress the word "fâss", but he  and some 
>>> other early revivalists tended not to use it.
>>> Nichola doesn't suggest we suppress "enep". He just thinks that  Revived 
>>> Cornish should be as like the traditional language as  possible -- and 
>>> that means he prefers in his own translations, and  prefers to recommend 
>>> to others, that the word "fâss" be used for a  person's face, and "enep" 
>>> for flat surfaces of other kinds.
>>> To my mind, that's all to the good. "Enep" has a place. "Fâss" has  a 
>>> place. Our Cornish is more accurate if we use words the way the  native 
>>> speakers did.
>>> Sometimes this means that someone like Nicholas, now, after  studying 
>>> new texts which have come to light and studying the works  of earlier 
>>> Revivalists, finds that the usage of the earlier  Revivalists isn't as 
>>> close to the way that native speakers of  Cornish used the language. In 
>>> my opinion, it's perfectly fine to  criticize the earlier Revivalists 
>>> when they are found to have  erred. Caradar criticized a number of 
>>> features of Nance's Unified  Cornish, and Nicholas and I, at least, 
>>> agree with Caradar's  criticisms. Why shouldn't we? Nance wasn't 
>>> perfect. Neither was  Caradar. Neither was Talek. Neither is Nicholas. 
>>> Neither am I. But  what we in the present generation can do is to try to 
>>> do better  than those in previous generations did. That sometimes means 
>>> saying, boldly, "This feature in UC is mistaken, and shouldn't be 
>>> perpetuated, since we now know that in Traditional Cornish they did 
>>> something else." Or it might mean saying "This feature in UCR is 
>>> mistaken, and shouldn't be perpetuated". And one day, certainly,  there 
>>> will be grounds to say "This feature in KS is mistaken, and  shouldn't 
>>> be perpetuated".
>>> There's nothing wrong with criticizing mistakes in Nance. There's 
>>> nothing wrong with criticizing mistakes I make. I for my part just 
>>> don't understand why Eddie gets all upset about it. Nance did a lot  of 
>>> very good things. He was a fine lexicographer. Linguistically,  however, 
>>> his orthographic system has a number of features in it  which it is 
>>> quite legitimate to criticize.
>>> (1) Unlike Jenner, Nance did not recognize a phonemic distinction 
>>> between /y/ and /ø/. We know from the history of sound changes that 
>>> Middle Cornish words in /y/ unround to /i/ in Late Cornish, and  that 
>>> Middle Cornish words in /ø/ unround to /e/ in Late Cornish. So  it was a 
>>> mistake for him not to recognize this distinction. I  believe it was 
>>> Caradar who first pointed this out -- this criticism  is not new. UCR, 
>>> and KK, and KS1, and KD, and SWF, and KS all  distinguish the two 
>>> phonemes. UC is the odd man out.
>>> (2) Nance tended to write voiceless consonants (k, t, p) after long 
>>> vowels in stressed monosyllables. This feature of writing is found  in 
>>> the Ordinalia, but elsewhere it is quite common to find  voiceless 
>>> consonants (b, d, g) written in those words, and  voiceless ones after 
>>> short vowels in final unstressed position.  Nance writes "fōk" 'hearth' 
>>> pl. "fogow" and "crȳk" 'crack' pl.  "crygow"; he actually writes 
>>> "fōk(g)" and "crȳk(g)", so it's clear  that he knew that both forms were 
>>> there. But he recommended the  wrong ones! It's now generally accepted 
>>> that in these words the  consonant was voiceless, so "fōg" and "crȳg" 
>>> are the better  spellings. In my opinion it's particularly important 
>>> because  learners of Cornish tend to shorten vowels before voiceless 
>>> consonants and lengthen them before voiced ones --  like in English 
>>> "back" vs "bag", where the first vowel is a bit shorter than the 
>>> second. Nance's spellings of these words tend to encourage wrong 
>>> pronunciation. UCR, and the SWF, and KS all use the voiced consonant.
>>> (3) Nance in some cases used unattested reconstructed words instead  of 
>>> the attested loanwords which native speakers of Cornish used.  OK, you 
>>> might say, what does it matter? Well, first, if we use  words as the 
>>> native speakers used them, we're not making any  mistakes and our 
>>> Cornish is authentic. That just speaks to what it  is someone as a 
>>> learner wants to do. I don't think it's wrong for  Nicholas to encourage 
>>> learners to imitate the native speakers  rather than to imitate the 
>>> early Revivalists. Like him, I recommend  that people use "in gwir" 
>>> since that's attested, instead of "yn  whir" which is not. They mean 
>>> exactly the same thing. Why would you  prefer a Revivalist's mistake (no 
>>> matter how well intentioned or  logical) to something that a native 
>>> speaker used? For my money, the  latter is more authentic. But -- and 
>>> here is where Nicholas  suggests that Nance's choice did some harm to 
>>> the Revival -- when  people decide not to want to use attested words, 
>>> but instead to use  "pure" Celtic words, then they are changing the 
>>> language.
>>> Nicholas didn't say that everything Nance did was harmful to the 
>>> Revival. Eddie seemed to me to portray it that way, and it's just  not 
>>> what Nicholas intended, I believe. But look at what Ken George  does. He 
>>> regularly suppresses attested loanwords in favour of his  own 
>>> concoctions. But where did he learn that habit of purism? Oh,  it's much 
>>> worse than what Nance ever did... but this "puristic"  aspect of Nance's 
>>> work seems to have had later, negative  ramifications. And that is 
>>> exactly what Nicholas said:
>>>> Nance didn't [use the attested words for the attested meanings,  and 
>>>> leave the archaisms for poetry and elevated writing] because  of his 
>>>> idées fixes about what constituted "correct" Cornish.
>>> I think the record shows that Nance *did* have strong ideas about  what 
>>> constituted "correct" Cornish. Unfortunately, in some cases we  can see 
>>> that what Nance recommended goes against what we find  commonly in the 
>>> corpus. Why shouldn't it be all right to point this  out?
>>>> Nance's purism nourished later less scholarly purism and has, in  my 
>>>> view, done the revival immense damage.
>>> Of course Nance was not a villain. He could not have forseen what 
>>> "later less scholarly purism" would do. But at least some of the  purism 
>>> which Nance did embrace had very unfortunate ramifications  for the 
>>> Revival later on. And that later purism, building on  Nance's has been 
>>> very harmful, as we all know from the last two  decades.
>>> So what does Nicholas recommend? He recommends that we try to use 
>>> whatever words we have attested in the same way that the native 
>>> speakers did. That's not "purism". It's authenticity.
>>> There is plenty of room for other neologisms and Celtic and non- Celtic 
>>> borrowings. But the words we have attested are precious.  Shouldn't we 
>>> use those as much and as well as we can? It's great  that we have "awen" 
>>> and "dowr" in place-names. It's great that we  have "ryver" as a 
>>> general-use word. I can't think of reasons (apart  from rhyme in poetry) 
>>> to want to use "awen" and "dowr" as general- use equivalents of 'river'. 
>>> The closer to the native speakers we  strive to be, the richer and the 
>>> more authentic the Revival will  be. If that means saying "Whoops! 
>>> Nance/Smith/Hooper/Palmer/Gendall/ 
>>> Williams/George/Bailey/Everson/Climo/WHOEVER got it wrong! Let's  follow 
>>> the texts instead!" then so be it!
>>> And Eddie: Criticism is not slander. To recognize errors in the  work of 
>>> earlier Revivalists is, in fact, to do their work *honour*.  Much, 
>>> indeed most, of what all of them did was rock-solid and the  best they 
>>> could offer. But that doesn't mean that it was any of it  holy writ. 
>>> When an element of the work of a scientist is proved  wrong, a good 
>>> scientist says "Thanks for that correction! Now we  are closer to 
>>> getting it right!" Someone who just digs his heels in  and says "What 
>>> I've done should not be criticized or changed!" is  not a good 
>>> scientist.
>>> To praise Nance: I have been doing A LOT of lexical work and I can  say 
>>> that Nance's indications of anomalous stress, and of vowel  length in 
>>> polysyllables (especially multisyllables), is simply  amazing. We don't 
>>> talk about it, because we take it for granted.  His is the standard. But 
>>> that does not mean he got right items (1),  (2), and (3) above. It's 
>>> appropriate for those items to be  criticized, and it honours his work 
>>> when we do it.
>>> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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> Craig Weatherhill
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