[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Wed Sep 7 20:42:46 BST 2011

I think that what really happened with the Dissolution of Glasney  
Collegiate Church, was that written Cornish lost its long-standing  
centre of excellence, production, scholarship and even spirit.  It  
lost its dependable guiding light.  After the Dissolution, Cornish  
started to lose its way to a certain extent, and orthographies used by  
subsequent authors began to look rather different, even from each  
other.  This is even apparent in place-name records, too.  There is a  
certain thread of consistency in records prior to 1550, but  
afterwards, spellings went all over the place.  Admittedly, much of  
this was due to non-Cornish scribes and cartographers writing down  
what they THOUGHT they heard., and had Glasney survived, I believe  
that change would have been extremely minor.

I often wonder about other collegiate churches in Cornwall such as St  
Buryan and Tywardreath, and whether any texts emerged from them.  I  
find it hard to believe that they did not.  I wonder how many more  
Caerwyn Williamses are out there sitting on Cornish texts they haven't  
told anyone about.

There isn't much time difference between the post-Glasney productions  
of Tregear, BK (2nd scribe) and Jordan but orthographically they are  
rather more distinct from each other than was previously the case  
between texts.  60 years shouldn't have seen much change.  Tregear and  
BK2 could well have attended Glasney.  Jordan could not have.

By 1680, a very changed Cornish was apparent, with the Boson family,  
Gwavas, Tonkin etc., forming a "school" of enthusiastic revivalists,  
inspired by the work of John Keigwin, the only real scholar among them  
and whose own preferred orthography was very close to that used by  
Jordan.  Few, if any of those were actually native speakers and  
writers, but learned Cornish later and of their own volition.  William  
Rowe, from the wilds of Sancreed parish, was most likely a native  
speaker.  With the further influence of Lhuyd, a thread of consistency  
again started to emerge in Cornish, but this was very different in  
appearance from earlier texts, which (it appears) few of them had  
seen, with the exception of Keigwin.  One wonders what happened to the  
texts that he must have owned.  I think it almost certain that without  
those texts and centre of scholarship to guide them, they devised  
their own orthography.  This, of course, was Late Cornish.  I agree  
that the language itself did not fundamentally alter from the Middle  
and Tudor periods, except for certain features like rhotacisation and  
pre-occlusion, the almost total use of "nag" instead of 'nyns", and  
some streamlining.

For what it's worth, that's my take on what happened to post-Glasney  


On 7 Gwn 2011, at 20:12, Ray Chubb wrote:

> On 7 Gwn 2011, at 08:51, Michael Everson wrote:
>> On 7 Sep 2011, at 08:27, Ray Chubb wrote:
>>>> It's simply not the case that authentic Middle Cornish  
>>>> orthography ceased to exist in 1549.
>>> I think what we can safely say is that any control over it ceased  
>>> to exist.
>> There was a continuum of spelling options even before 1549.
>> I don't understand how you use "authentic" in this context though.  
>> Evidently you think Nance's orthography is authentic, though since  
>> you prefer UCR you must agree that Nance's failure to distinguish / 
>> ø/ from /y/ (UCR ue from ü) was a mistake. Do you think that  
>> Jenner's orthography is authentic? Tregear's? Jordan's?
> Yes of course I agree that UC (r) was an improvement on UC in  
> certain respects.  I have never liked final 'dh' and that is where  
> the crux of the matter lies.   Clearly scholars cannot agree where  
> final 'dh' should be applied and no doubt there is also disagreement  
> about where final 'f' should be sounded as 'v'.  In view of this I  
> prefer to stick to the more authentic historical spellings.  It has  
> been said that Nance preferred to allow the sources to speak for  
> themselves, this is still a good principle where there is uncertainty.
>>> It's a bit like Nicholas abandoning UCR, we all feel free to  
>>> tinker or pick and choose from it as we wish.
>> Nicholas (and I as a publisher) "abandoned" UCR because we (along  
>> with others) realized the value of moving towards an orthography  
>> which made use of authentic graphs while also doing a better job at  
>> (1) representing the major dialect differences of Revived Cornish  
>> (the continuum of choices between RMC, RTC, and RLC) and (2) being  
>> unambiguous.
> Yes I commend you for what you have done but you must accept that  
> there are those who prefer, as I said, to allow the sources to speak  
> for themselves. Is it really so much trouble to remember to give a  
> final 'f' a 'v' sound?
>> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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> Ray Chubb
> Portreth
> Kernow
>  Agan Tavas web site:  www.agantavas.com
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Craig Weatherhill

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