[Spellyans] Is there a future for the SWF?

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Tue May 15 10:43:23 BST 2012

"Conventional wisdom" has to be treated with care, too.

"Conventional wisdom" said, for a long time - and still does in  
certain quarters - that the Celts and their language originated in mid- 
Europe and only "invaded" Britain at the onset of the Iron Age.  This  
all arose from a misreading of Herodotus, who believed the Celtic  
homelands to be near the headwaters of the Danube.  If Victorian and  
later commentators had troubled to read on, they'd have found that  
Herodotus also believed the Danube to rise in the Pyrenees.  In which  
case he was pretty well right, and much-quoted sites like Halstatt (c. 
800 BC) and La Tene (c.200 BC) are much too late in date to be  
relevant to origins.  There was no large scale "invasion" at the start  
of the Iron Age.  That this "conventional wisdom" was so long-lived is  
quite astonishing.

It is now held (Cunliffe, Renfrew, Koch, Waddell et al) that proto- 
Celtic developed from Indo-European on the Atlantic fringes of Europe  
in the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic and spread northward (much  
in parallel with the megalith-building tradition) to Britain and  
Ireland as a common language of the Neolithic sea-trading nations.   
Division into Q-Celtic and P-Celtic is now tentatively placed in the  
Bronze Age.

(I shall be working with Prof. Sir Barry Cunliffe soon, as he's  
intending to do work at Chun Castle, and he's been in touch with me  
about it.  I hope to learn a whole lot more).


On 15 Me 2012, at 10:10, Linus Band wrote:

> I'm afraid that I must disagree on the date of divergence.No trait  
> has been found that distinguishes Cornish from Breton, or the other  
> way around, before the appearance of the Vocabularium Cornicum  
> (somewhere between 1100-1200). (Cf. P. Schrijver, 'Old British',  
> Brythonic Celtic, from Medieval British to Modern Breton, Elmar  
> Ternes (ed.) (Bremen 2011) 4, 34 f.)
> As for the significance of reconstructed forms, they are an  
> important tool that can help us make sense of Traditional Cornish  
> spelling. It is of course not 100% foolproof, but so is the analysis  
> and interpretation of graphemes. Both should be used with care.
> Kind regards,
> Linus
> 2012/5/15 Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com>
> On 15 May 2012, at 09:22, Craig Weatherhill wrote:
> > I used the word "largely", having our 5th-10th century inscribed  
> stones in mind.  Many of the names on them are British, albeit  
> slightly altered to suit Latin orthography.  Taking that into  
> consideration, they represent our only known written British.
> > Charles Thomas's book on Cornish and Welsh inscribed stone: "And  
> Shall these Mute Stones Speak" (University of Wales Press 1994) is  
> of great assistance in this subject.
> I haven't seen that book, but conventional wisdom is that by 600 CE  
> British had already developed into forms of Welsh, Cumbric, Cornish,  
> and Breton. I'd be surprised if 10th-century stones were in much  
> older language. But I really ought to get hold of that book, if for  
> no other reason but to see if there are fonts that could be designed  
> from it. :-)
> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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