[Spellyans] David Mitchells's views on Cornish and revival of 'ancient languages'.

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Sun Aug 16 08:13:21 BST 2009

I'm not surprised this has caused offence.  Does Mitchell not realise  
that Cornish IS British, having descended from the British language  
(Brythonic)?  What would he say to the fact that English was an  
endangered language 700 years ago and survives today largely due to  
the efforts of three Cornishmen of the time (one of history's great  
ironies)?  If not for that, we'd be speaking a form of Norman-French  

I also note that he says not a single word about the many millions  
spent each year on teaching and promoting English.  Or that what  
Ulster/Scots, which he describes as a dialect of English) receives  
vastly greater funding than either Gaelic or Cornish.

I'm afraid that his posturing is typical of rampant Anglocentric  
behaviour, as are the majority of the responses.  Did you see the  
responses to Peter Tatchell's published arguments for a greater  
measure of self-government in Cornwall earlier in the year?  Many were  
openly racist and offensive - but we, the Cornish, are the great  
unrepresented, the great disenfranchised and the great unprotected.   
We remain about the only race, or group (as Travellers are included)  
in the known world that the UK government refuses to include on the  
Framework Convention for National Minorities.

However, people like Mitchell have been trying to get rid of us for  
1500 years and, even after all that time,  don't seem to realise that  
we're not going.


On 16 Est 2009, at 07:37, Ken MacKinnon wrote:

> Nicholas and friends,
> The Spellyans group may have come across reference to this issue.  I  
> attach downloads herewith and give references below.
> Last week's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' programme featured David  
> Mitchell, who traced his ancestry in the 19th century to sheep- 
> farmers in Sutherland (who had supplanted the original population),  
> and to a parish minister in  Sleat.   This was accompanied by a blog  
> on the Guardian website which looked as if it had been done at the  
> same time - and maybe also in Sleat.  ( or maybe Loch Ness with  
> monster and what looks like fishing boats added.)
> This has caused some offence in Sleat where he was hospitably  
> treated and and considerably assisted with local facilities.  The  
> blog can be accessed on:-
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/interactive/2009/jul/06/david-mitchell-soap-box
> I was unable to locate a transcript of this blog - so have attempted  
> such myself ( + / - ) which may be of interest to colleagues - and  
> please find attached herewith.
> If any one feels moved to correct any inaccuracies in the trnascript  
> or fill in gaps please feel free to do so.
> The blog attracted 168 comments - which also please find copy  
> herewith attached for info.     These range across the usual points  
> and arguments pro and anti - and may be valuable as a representative  
> sample of these in contemporary discourse.  None however focuses on  
> what are the actual present-day causes of reduction of numbers of  
> Gaelic speakers.     There is some recourse to what is 'natural' and  
> what is 'obvious'. ( It is of course also 'obvious' that the sun  
> rotates around the earth once a day, and that the earth is flat.)    
> There are some interesting points made about 'natural selection'.
> I am not suggesting that any of this actually merits any specific  
> reply.   But it is interesting to note the range of public comment  
> on these issues.   We do need to understand that these ideas are in  
> circulation, and maybe to take them into account in appropriate ways.
> I hope that this may be of interest -  an Ken ken
> Ken MacKinnon is now on Broadband  with new e-mail addresses:-
> ken at ferintosh.org
> and also at:-
> ken.ferintosh at googlemail.com
> My former e-mail addresses are no longer able to be used.
> (Prof) Ken MacKinnon
> Ivy Cottage, Ferintosh,
> The Black Isle, by Dingwall,
> Ross-shire  IV 7 8HX
> Scotland  UK
> Tel: 01349 - 863460
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: nicholas williams
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Sent: Saturday, August 15, 2009 12:40 PM
> Subject: [Spellyans] trigys with long or short forms of bos
> Me a drig [My a dryg] for 'I live' is common in the revived language  
> and appears to derive from Nance. It is without warrant in the texts.
> In traditional Cornish  ev a drig means 'he will remain, he will  
> dwell', e.g. ha nena ny a dryg in du ha gans du, ha du a dryg innan  
> ny 'and then we will dwell in God and with God, and God will dwell  
> in us' TH 30
> y vabe cayne in paynes brase ef a dryg bys venytha 'his sone Cain,  
> in great torment he will live for ever' CW 2031-32
> 'He lives in that house' is rendered in Cornish as yma va trigys i'n  
> chy-na. Notice that long forms of the verb bos are more common with  
> trigys than are short forms, and this is not confined to Late Cornish:
> vyth na wrella compressa ow tus vs trygys ena OM 1424-25
> punscie y tus mar calas vs trygys agy the’th wlas OM 1482-83
> omma yth ese tregys avel hermyt in guelfos BM 1963-64
> fatell ra eff in tyrmyn ay vicitacyon agan humbrag ny in ban then  
> wlas vgy y vab Jhesus crist inhy tregys TH 11a
> En termen ez passiez thera trigaz en St. Levan dean ha bennen JCH §1
> tregys off lemen heb wov berth in castel an dynas sur in peddre BM  
> 2209-11.
> For 'I live in Cornwall', then, either Yth esoma trigys in Kernow or  
> Trigys ov in Kernow are admissible.
> Nicholas
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Craig Weatherhill

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