[Spellyans] chair

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sat Jul 18 14:51:16 BST 2009

In a review of Alys in Pow an Anethow I was criticised for using chair  
[tSe:r] rather than cadar for 'chair'.

The word cadar occurs in toponyms; cf. chapel an gadar in  
Perranzabuloe cited by Pryce. This is presumably modern Chapel  
Engarder. Cadar is not attested in OCV, however, or in any Middle  
Cornish or Late Cornish text, as far as I have been able to ascertain.

Lhuyd s.v. Cathedra 'chair' gives skaval and he glosses it 'stool' AB:  
46c. He also gives Cornish skaval s.v. Sella 'a seat, a chair, a  
bench' AB: 148a.

The word chair, variously spelt, is the attested Cornish word for  
I have collected the following examples:

me a's ordyn though wharre cheyrys ha formys plente 'I will order them  
for you immediately, plenty of chairs and benches'  PC 2228-29
dus oma ese yth cheer 'come here, sit in your chair' BM 3002
fatell ra scribes ha pharises setha in chare moyses 'that the scribes  
and pharisees will sit in the chair of Moses' TH 34
inivry ha cam an parna then stall po cheare an scribys han phariseis  
'hostility and wrong of that kind to the stall or the chair of the  
scribes and pharisees' TH 48a
Mar pith den vith ioynys the chear pedyr 'If any man is joined to the  
chair of Peter' TH 49.

Interestingly chair is also attested in place-names, for example,  
Chair Ladder (St Levan) and  Carn Cheer (Sennen).

The reviewer who queried the use of chair for *cadar was right to do  
so. He, like the rest of us, learned cadar [kador in KK] as the  
default word for
'chair'. The culprit here is Nance, with his customary purism and  
suppression of well-attested borrowings from English. In his English- 
Cornish dictionary of 1952 Nance gives cadar as the first Cornish  
equivalent of 'chair', and chayr as the second. Chayr (KS chair) is  
the ordinary word for 'chair' in Cornish.

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