[Spellyans] 'Thing' in the dictionary of the Akademi Kernewek

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu Apr 1 11:42:59 BST 2021

The entry in the Akademi online dictionary under ‘thing’ is, I regret, very unsatifactory. 

The first equivalent for ‘thing’ given by the dictionary is pyth, plural pythow, or peth, plural pethow. Unlike in Welsh where there is a plural pethau, there is no form *pythow, *pethow in Cornish. Pyth is a collective noun meaning ‘things, belongings, wealth’ and has no plural. This can be seen in the following examples:

pup den ol degyns ganso y pyth an mens a allo ‘let every man carry his things with him, as much as he can’ OM 1591-92
ymons omma dyuythys ha'ga pyth degys ganse ‘they have come here and their things brought with them’ OM 1612-13
rag agis benneth why yv moy treasur zymmo vy es pyth an bys ma neb vr ‘for your blessing is more of a treasure to me that the wealth of this world at any time’ BM 50-52
tha thew nyng eis otham vythe awoos cawas agen pythe ‘God has no need to get our wealth’ CW 1132-33
kemeras in kerth aga pith, ha treweythow aga bewnans ‘to take away their belongings and sometimes their life’ TH 24a.

The dictionary then cites taklen ‘thing’ and gives the two plurals taklennow which is cited as Middle Cornish and taklednow which is given as Late Cornish.
The form *taklen is unattested anywhere and should be removed as a headword.
*Taklednow is also unattested. There are no instances of this word with pre-occlusion. Some attested forms exhibit a single internal -n-, which suggests that pre-occlusion is unlikely. The attestations are as follows: 

fatell rug du requiria innan ny certan taclennow the vos colynwys TH 16
pan dra ew an keth taclennow na TH 16a
na the wetha taclenow wo vsyys in la moyses TH 27a
kepar ha commondementys ha taclenow forbyddys TH 50a.

The dictionary also omits to mention that a variant plural is attested with medial -gl-:

Mar crug an geir an tas an nef gonis in taglenno erall SA 63.

Finally the dictionary gives tra ‘thing’ and tells the users that the plural is either taklow or *traow. In fact taclennow cited above is a variant suppletive plural of tra. Taklow (taclow) is the usual suppletive plural. The form *traow, however, is attested only in Lhuyd’s preface to his Cornish grammar:

an Trào kreiez en Ladin, Quercus, rhamnus, melis, lepus, hoedus AB: 223
pôrskientek en traou erel AB: 224

It is not attested anywhere else. Lhuyd was presumably thinking of Breton traoù ‘things’. Traow is not Cornish and has no place in a Cornish dictionary.

Nicholas Williams
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