[Spellyans] cledh etc

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Mon Jan 14 10:27:48 GMT 2013

> Place-name spellings are not a part of the scribal tradition.

On 13 Jan 2013, at 21:27, Craig Weatherhill <craig at agantavas.org> wrote:

> That is an opinion, Michael, which I do not share. Surviving textual Cornish is limited in extent, therefore we need every scrap of evidence we can get.  Pipe Rolls, Assize Rolls, etc, are quite likely to have been written by native hands, and I think that may be true of a large proportion of place-name records prior to 1550.  They are written and, therefore textual, evidence.

I did not say they were textual evidence. I said they were not necessarily part of the scribal tradition. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive. I have never dismissed place-name evidence. It is important to note that in Cornwall, as in Ireland, place-names often, even usually, are written in an orthography based on English-language orthography, as government authorities wrote down what they heard, whether they understood the meaning of the place-names or not.

> Can we be sure that all the texts we have were actually written by Cornishmen?  They most likely were…but scholars come from all sorts of backgrounds, as true long ago as now.

It is still possible to identify orthographic principles which belong to the scribal tradition.

> Take, as a converse example, the works in English - at a time when English had been reduced to a minority "peasant" language - carried out by Cornish-speaking Cornish scholars, Trevisa, Pencrych and John of Cornwall.  We'd probably be speaking Norman-French now if it hadn't been for them.

Yes, and this proves my point: We are all familiar with English place-name spelling, but despite the Anglo-Saxon roots, Ipswich is not the same as King Ælfred's orthographic tradition which wrote Ippesƿicce. If we were reviving a pre-Norman language for England, we might wish to stick to the scribal tradition for orthographic conventions of Ælfred, and not try to mix that with Caxton's conventions.

"oe" being found in place-names may teach us something about sounds, but it is not an argument that "oe" is a part of the scribal tradition, since that graph is not evident in non-place-name literature (i.e. in running text).

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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