[Spellyans] tyller and teller in the Akademi dictionary

Ian Jackson iacobianus at googlemail.com
Mon Apr 5 14:32:22 BST 2021

Dear All,


I like the expression ‘flavours of Revived Cornish’. Though it does get my mind running on ice creams and quarks.


However I have a problem, personally, with the polarization inherent in a simple M/L labelling of Revived Cornish. My own Cornish is generally based on 16th century prose grammar, with a core lexicon that I consider to be chronologically consistent with that basis. I am primarily a writer in Revived Cornish. I find it very natural to give one speaker in a story a voice marked by words such as ‘tyller’, another speaker in the same story a voice marked by ‘teller’ etc. This puts the richness of parallel forms in attested Cornish productively to work for purposes of literary style and effect. But if the Akademi recognizes only distinct ‘M’ and ‘L’ flavours, where does that leave my own use of contemporaneous variants that are neither specifically early nor specifically late? The historical Cornish of Tregear is a matter of record. Yet it feels as if the Akademi has no place in its lexical catalogue for the equivalent of Tregear in Revived Cornish. Although several million words of Revived Cornish in this ‘flavour’ have been published in the last 15 or so years.


Kind regards,


Ian Jackson


From: Spellyans <spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net> On Behalf Of Daniel Prohaska
Sent: 05 April 2021 13:53
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] tyller and teller in the Akademi dictionary


Thank you Nicky, quite true. There is also plenty of discussion to reduce tags and arrive at a common form where the extremely early and the extremely late forms unnecessarily diverge. But rather than one man making decisions on how to spell, be they Ken George, Nicholas Williams, or indeed Daniel Prohaska, this has become a group effort by group compromise discussion and decision. Yes, on account of that there will be inconsistencies… and they two can be addressed. It is one thing to argue the historical accuracy of a given spelling system, but quite another to disregard what is actually being said in the revived language, and those who tend to base their Revived Cornish on orthographies and “flavours” that are associated with Middle Cornish tend to say and write ‹lyver›, ‹tyller› and ‹prena›, while those who base their Revived Cornish on Late Cornish tend to say and write ‹lever›, ‹teller› and ‹perna›. So, the tags are accurate from the view point of Revived Cornish, and I agree, not necessarily where traditional Cornish is concerned. 


On 05.04.2021, at 14:39, Nicky Rowe <nickyrowe688 at gmail.com <mailto:nickyrowe688 at gmail.com> > wrote:


In fairness to those who do far more work on the Akademi dictionary than I do, many are aware that the M and L distinction is overblown in words like lyver/lever and tyller/teller, particularly on the dictionary panel. It does not get changed because the tags M and L aren't meant to reflect historical usage, but rather are markers for learners to know which forms are more commonly used in their preferred variant of the *modern* language. Any change to this approach, which came from the need to represent usage among different revivalist groups, would require another SWF review and there is no appetite for one. It is fair to criticise the M/L tags as arbitrary and divisive, as I certainly do, but I don't feel it is fair to claim the compilers are ignorant.



On Mon, 5 Apr 2021 at 20:19, Nicholas Williams <njawilliams at gmail.com <mailto:njawilliams at gmail.com> > wrote:

The online dictionary of the Akademi Kernewek gives two forms of the word for ‘place’. The first is tyller which is designated with a superscript M to indicate that it is a Middle Cornish form. The second is cited as teller followed by a superscript L to show that it is a distinctively Late Cornish form. Unfortunately for the compilers their distinction is without justification. The attestations in traditional Cornish are as follows:



tyller PA 18a, 33a, 65a, 176a, 250b, OM 1551, 1992, 2045, PC 86, 105, 980, 1103, 1837, 2597, RD 270, TH 16, 42a, 43, 45, 47 x 3, BK 149; tyllar TH 6, 18, 29a, 42, 42a, 53a; tillar SA 65a, 66


teller PA 206d, OM 579, 939, 1095, 1823, 1909, 2275, 2795, PC 501, BM 629, 677, 1145, 2922, TH 2, 44; pana deller ‘where’ TH 47; telhar BF:25 x3, 29; tellar CW 866, 871, BF: 52.


The forms with e as the stressed vowel are attested in Pascon Agan Arluth, Origo Mundi, Passio Christi, Beunans Meriasek and Tregear’ Homilies. Hardly Late Cornish sources. Again the compilers appear to be demonstrating their ignorance of the traditional language.


Nicholas Williams 

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