[Spellyans] Lhuyd's Cornish

Ray Chubb ray at spyrys.org
Tue Jul 14 12:12:57 BST 2009

Are there Cornish speakers using his morphology and syntax?

On 14 Gor 2009, at 12:00, nicholas williams wrote:

> 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 davasow-ma
> '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.
> Nicholas
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Ray Chubb


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