[Spellyans] Blejyow or Flowrys?

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sun May 30 09:23:48 IST 2010


It is better to use attested words, even when they are borrowings,  
rather than coin "Celtic" words, or use words that were in Old Cornish  
but appear to have gone out of use in Middle Cornish.
Nance preferred stevel 'room' from Old Cornish to rom 'room' of Middle  
Cornish, and tron 'nose' from OC trein, to the attested dewfrik or  
frigow. He also used *avon 'river', though the word in Middle Cornish  
is ryver, and enep 'face', though the word is not once attested in  
Middle Cornish, being replaced by fas. Nance taught that myl [mil] was  
the Cornish for 'animal', but the regular word is best, bestas.  
Similarly 'cloud' was *comolen, whereas the only attested word in the  
texts is cloud, cloudys. Some people for 'purse' now say *yalgh, a  
borrowing from Breton, but the word pors is attested four times in  
Beunans Meriasek. I could point to a discussion in print about the  
relative frequencies of lowena 'joy' and lowender 'happiness, joy'. In  
fact by far the commonest word in the texts is joy.
The question is not one of preference, but of remaining faithful to  
Cornish as actually spoken and written by Cornish people. Or one might  
put it another way: revivalists have no right to reshape the language  
in their own image. Cornish is as we find it, and purism is artificial  
and inauthentic.

This is true of morphology as well. So the unattested *dywscovarn is  
not to preferred over the attested scovornow, or the unattested  
*dywarr 'legs' over the attested garrow.

The same principle can also be invoked with orthography. There is no  
need to write hweg, when the attested form is wheg, or *orthiv when  
the attested spellings are orthyf and orthaf.

Nicholas

On 29 Me 2010, at 22:06, ewan wilson wrote:

> Personally, I find that many of the items taken over from  the  
> English and Norman French lend Cornish its own peculiar  
> expressiveness that the 'purer' Celtic languages perhaps lack.  
> However I am aware that fears for the language being swamped by  
> forgein lexical items can understandably lead to a preferance for a  
> purer lexical base.

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