[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Jul 23 12:03:43 IST 2014

A number of points need to be made here. The entry: Kendereu A. [for Armorican] a Cousin-german
is not attested in the first edition of Borlase's vocabulary but it does occur in the second.
I assume that the Breton word Kendereu taken from Lhuyd s.vv. Consobrinus and Patruelis is the
origin of the item in Borlase. The word is Breton. There is no evidence from Lhuyd, nor from
the Old Cornish Vocabulary nor from any other source (Pryce is, I take it, based on Borlase) for
the word *kenderow in Cornish. OCV cites no word for 'cousin'. There is no evidence at all for a Cornish word *kenytherow 'female cousin'.

The only attested word for 'cousin' seems to be cosyn, plural cosyns. This has almost certainly been
borrowed from Middle English, not Middle French.

It may well be helpful to distinguish a female cousin from a male cousin and to adopt two Breton words into
Cornish as kenderow and kenytherow may or may not be a good idea. Against that one should remember
that English cannot distinguish the gender of cousin without further specification. My preference is always
for the attested word over the borrowing. I shall continue to use cosyn, cosyns for cousins of either gender.

Chaden 'chain' in Borlase is Breton, not Cornish. Pre-occlusion occurs only after short stressed vowels, not long vowels/diphthongs.
The attested Cornish word for 'chain' is chain m., pl. chainys; and 'to chain' is chainya:

y gelmy fast why a wra gans louan ha chaynys yen 'you shall bind him fast with a rope and cold chains' PC 2059-60
Kymmar Ke ha carhar a in chaynys fyne 'Take Ke and imprison him in fine chains' BK 397-98
in pyth downe yth of towles abarth in efarn kelmys gans chayne tane a dro thymo 'I have been cast into a deep pit within hell with a chain of fire around me' CW 329-3

henna lemen y fyllyth rag pur fast yth os chenys 'now you will fail in that, for you have been chained fast' BM 3808-09
trewethek syght yv helma gueles den yonk tek certan cheynys in keth vaner ma  'this is a pitiful sight to see a young man chained in this very way' BM 3823-25
Awoys ov bones cheynys a tefes dym nebes neys me a pylse the pen blogh 'Since I have been chained, were you to come a little closer to me I would strip your bald head' BM 3826-28.

For 'chain' Nance suggests *cadon f. borrowed from Welsh and Breton. Again, I prefer the attested items, to unattested borrowings.

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