[Spellyans] Lhuyd's Cornish

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 12:00:30 BST 2009

Although Edward Lhuyd's description of Cornish is of the greatest value,
one should always be wary of accepting his own written Cornish as  
authoritative in any sense.
He was not a native speaker, he spent only a short time in Cornwall  
and was prone to let
his Welsh lead him astray.

Lhuyd begins the last paragraph of the preface to his Cornish grammar  
in AB as follows:

Mi a uon en ta boz lîaz tîz (pôrletrys ha pôrskientek en traou erel) a  
akiuzya ha damnya peb prediryanz adro kuitha am'àn an koth Davazo-ma.
In KS we could write this:
My a *wòn yn tâ bos lies *tus (pòr letrys ha pòr *skientek in *traow  
erel) ow acûsya ha dampnya pùb prederyans *adro qwitha in màn an *coth  
'I know well that there many people, very learned and wise in other  
things, are condemning and damning every thought of preserving these  
old languages.'

Note the following errors in Lhuyd's Cornish
Mi a uon for Mi a uor [Lhuyd frequently makes the mistaking of  
inflecting the monoform, because the Cornish/Breton syntax was absent  
from Welsh]
lies tus for lies huny/den. Lies is always followed by the singular.
skientek is unknown. The word in the texts is skentyl, skyntyl, though  
the word is in PA only. Otherwise the word fur could have been used..
Traow for taclow. Lhuyd has invented this plural, probably on the  
basis of Breton traou. It is unknown in Cornish, being replaced by  
taclow, tacklow. It does not belong in the revived language.
adro kuitha for adro dho kuitha
an coth davasow. Because Welsh hen 'old' precedes its noun and is  
followed by lenition, Lhuyd writes the incorrect coth davazo for  
tavasow coth.

Notice also that prediryanz is Lhuyd's own coinage. The word for  
'thought' in Cornish is preder, prederow; cf. oll an prederow preveth  
a vab den 'all mankind's secret thoughts' TH28.

Lhuyd could perhaps have written:

Mi a uor en ta bos lîaz den (pôrletrys ha pôrskentil en taklou erel) a  
akiuzya ha damnya peb preder adro dho kuitha am'àn an tavazo koth-ma.

Lhuyd may be useful for phonetic information about Cornish, but his  
Cornish morphology and syntax are not reliable.

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