[Spellyans] The sound of r

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Thu Dec 12 11:53:14 GMT 2013

Well, I'm sure Michael will slap us for these observations when he gets back from China (on his way back now) but…what the hell!  The gentleman we've both referred to, and some others, intone Cornish as though it was a language from some great classical civilization of the past, in stentorian tones that no Cornishman would ever have used, and more suited to an Oxford Don or a Shakespearian actor.   Many fluent Cornish speakers do sound like English folk trying to speak a foreign tongue using English sounds and intonation.

Orthography has always been a serious and much-discussed issue, but - I feel - at the expense of pronunciation and delivery, both of which have been somewhat neglected.

There are some good deliverers of spoken Cornish, including those you mention.  Dick Gendall (some great YouTube clips of him), Neil Kennedy and Dan Prohaska are well worth listening to.

By the way - Neil's OK.  He tells me that he did suffer a minor stroke, but with no discernible effect.  The cause remains unknown and he's on some preventive pills.  Otherwise, he's home, up and running again, which is good to hear.


On 2013 Kev 12, at 11:03, Eddie Climo wrote:

> Murastajy a hedna, Craig; bryntyn o an cana yn whyr! Wosa golsowes orth an gennen-ma, my a welas ken kevres gether war YouTube--"Geevor Mine, Songs from the shaft." Gwell genef o nyver 4, "What are Cornish boys to do?"
> I agree with you about the Introducer's voice on the 'Pendeen' clip. It sounds just right, and if he spoke Cornish with that same accent and pronunciation, it would also sound just right. Some other native Kernewegoryon who sound just right are Neil Kennedy, Rod Lyon, Richard Lyon, the Chubbs, and the late Jowan Pengelly.
> It's rather ironic that the self-styled 'experts' on Cornish phonology, for all their much vaunted 'expertise', just don't manage to sound Cornish! One, whom I shall refrain from naming in public, sounds to my ears like a Portuguese immigrant to Brittany; and as for the 'Sofa' that Craig alluded to, he sounds like he's a Welshman trying to clear something stuck in his craw! Heard him at a Gorseth a few years ago, and…well, 'ee browned me right off!
> Eddie Climo
> On 12 Dec 2013, at 10:28, Craig Weatherhill <craig at agantavas.org> wrote:
>> I tried to share a YouTube clip to this group, of a Pendeen miners' carol, but it didn't get here for some reason.  The clip is from 1934, and the first 30 seconds of it are what I wanted people to hear.  An introduction to the carol by a seasoned old Pendeen man with an unspoiled local accent.  Just that 30 seconds is precious - the intonation, delivery, vowel sounds and that R.  (With "carol" pronounced "curl").   If you go into YouTube, and enter "Pendeen Miners' Carol", you'll find it.
>> I remain convinced that what you hear are the sounds and delivery of traditional Cornish, perhaps as it was in its final centuries and as Lhuyd heard it.  Listen to the voice and imagine that the words he speaks are not in English, but Cornish.  "Lively and manly spoken" (W. Scawen)
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