[Spellyans] Is there a future for the SWF?

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Mon May 21 12:01:45 IST 2012


In spelling, yes. In vocabulary and morphology, however, Nance had his own purist ideas.
Nance's shift from Jenner's orthography (based to some extent on the later language) to UC seems, in part at least, to have been driven by Nance's desire to be archaic, medieval, and distinctly anti-modern.
This was related to Nance's dislike of technological advance. 

C. Morton Raymont says of Nance's house at Nancecledra:

All water had to be carried into the house from the well, and he thought this ideal, remarking that it was desecration of water to bring it through metal pipes' (quoted in Pool (ed.), A Glossary of Cornish Sea-Words (1963), page 14.

Amy Baker writes of Nance:

…and at that time I remember walking up Nancecledra Hill with Mr Nance when the first telegraph poles were being erected between Penzance and St Ives. We both hated the sight of them, and he suddenly turned to me and said "Do you think we could ill-wish them away?" ibid., page 15.

UC deliberately went back to the 15th century, but Nance actually concentrated on the Passion Poem——from the 14th century. In consequence UC is archaic even for Middle Cornish. For example in proscribing any of the analogical developments in y'm beus, for using the conditional byen, dodhyen, carsen as pluperfect. Nance also failed to recognise that the future was usually made in Cornish with mynnes, e.g. me a vyn mos; and that om- for reflexives was already obsolescent in the MC period. 

Nance was born in 1873 and thus into the age of the Gothic Revival, Pugin (1834-75), the Pre-Raphaelites and Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Much of contemporary medievalism was a reaction to the dirt and squalor of industrial Britain. And remember that he himself was born and grew up in industrial South Wales; for many years he lived and worked in London. Nance did not actually come to live in Cornwall until 1906 when he was 33.

Nance was primarily an antiquarian and illustrator, not a linguist. It seems to me a pity that UC, the dominant form of Cornish from 1928 to 1986, was inspired as much by a particular aesthetic as by linguistic criteria.

Nicholas




On 21 May 2012, at 11:09, Ray Chubb wrote:

>  because he wanted everyday written Cornish to appear as historically accurate as possible.

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