[Spellyans] Months in Cornish

ken at ferintosh.org ken at ferintosh.org
Mon Jun 1 17:25:01 BST 2020


Hi Craig,

 

I received my copy of Promontory People earlier today.  It promises to be a very good read, to which I very much look forward.

 

Very interesting information on the months in this correspondence.  Funnily, I have recently been wondering what they meant, and how derived.  The meanings and etymologies make the Cornish names much easier to remember.

 

Interestingly the meaning of Hedra is an almost exact meaning of its Gaelic equivalent: Damhar.  Damh = stag, ar = on heat.  Likewise Kevardhu  similar to Gaelic Dubhlachd = (intense) blackness.

 

Most helpful - Ken

 

From: Spellyans <spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net> On Behalf Of Craig Weatherhill
Sent: 01 June 2020 13:40
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Months in Cornish

 

Curiously, <hav> was pronounced (in Late Cornish) with the A like the AI of “fair”, but <gwav> was “gwauv”.  This is supported by <havos> becoming <hewas>, but <gwavos> continuing as “gwauv-uss” in the traditional pronunciations of Trewavas and Gwavas Estate.

 

Re: January, it’s worth examining Gendall’s Source dictionary for the evidence of the initial being J in sound.

 

Craig

 

 

 

On 2020 Me 29, at 15:16, Ian Jackson <iacobianus at googlemail.com <mailto:iacobianus at googlemail.com> > wrote:

 

Thanks, Craig. I should have spelled hâv rather than hav, as the intention was to use Standard Cornish spellings throughout. I note that the mysterious ‘hard’ G is evidenced by Lhuyd, and also found in Breton.

 

Ian

 

From: Spellyans <spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net <mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net> > On Behalf Of Craig Weatherhill
Sent: 29 May 2020 11:22
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net <mailto:spellyans at kernowek.net> >
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Months in Cornish

 

What excellent work!  I’ve wondered about some of those, Hedra in partiicular. <hedh>, also meaning “stag” is known in Cornish (place-name: Goonheath).   I still think that Genver (hard G) is wrong and that the month should lbe spelled Jenwar.  The evidence is there in Dick Gendall’s Late Cornish source dictionary, even to: “the G soft” (W. Jeffery).

 

Craig

 

 

On 2020 Me 29, at 10:30, Ian Jackson <iacobianus at googlemail.com <mailto:iacobianus at googlemail.com> > wrote:

 

Hi Ray, here is my own understanding. I’ve pieced it together. If I’m wrong, I expect someone will say so!

 

Ian Jackson

 

Genver is ultimately from Latin Ianuarius, meaning the month of Ianus – the Roman god of transitions, often portrayed as having two faces, one looking back and one looking forward.

 

Whevrel is ultimately from Latin Februarius, meaning the month of Februus – the Roman god of purification.

 

Merth is ultimately from Latin Martius, meaning the month of Mars – the Roman god of war, and originally a god of agriculture.

 

Ebrel is ultimately from Latin Aprilis – probably related to Latin aperire ‘to open’ (referring to blossom, flowers), but also associated with the Greek Aphrodite, goddess of love.

 

Mê is ultimately from Latin Maia – the Greek goddess who came to be associated with the Roman Bona Dea, the goddess of fertility.

 

Metheven is ultimately from Brythonic *Mediosaminos, meaning ‘of midsummer’ (cf hav from *samos), because the summer solstice falls in this month. Efen is a clipped form.

 

Gortheren is a reworking of original Gorefen (also found) meaning the month after June (gor- ‘over’).

 

Est is ultimately from Latin Augustus, the title given by the Roman senate to the first emperor. It commemorates the fact that he was born in this month.

 

Gwydngala (Gwyngala) is a transparent formation meaning the time of harvest ‘when the straw is white’ (cf Welsh Medi related to Cornish mejy).

 

Hedra (Welsh hydref) is probably a compound of what is still retained in Welsh as hydd ‘stag’ (Cornish carow) and Welsh bref ‘bleating’, referring to the rutting season of deer (and evidence that Cornish brivya should not be confined to sheep).

 

Du is transparently ‘black, dark’ referring to the failing of the light.

 

Kevardhu is prefix kev (intensification) + ar (upon, added to) + du indicating the month when the light is at its dimmest (i.e. the month in which the winter solstice falls).

 

 

From: Spellyans <spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net <mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net> > On Behalf Of Raymond Chubb
Sent: 29 May 2020 09:23
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net <mailto:spellyans at kernowek.net> >
Subject: [Spellyans] Months in Cornish

 

Can anyone help me with an explanation of what the words for all the Cornish months actually mean. I know the more obvious ones like mis Merth and mis Du but what about the rest?

 

Oll an gwella,

 

 

Ray Chubb

 

Portreth 

Kernow

 

 

 

 

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