[Spellyans] Lhuyd's Cornish

Ken MacKinnon ken at ferintosh.org
Wed Jul 15 10:35:19 BST 2009

A gowetha wheg -oll,

Spellyans / Kernowak communications have resumed today after some weeks' break in reception.

I am very grateful for this.

Meur ras dheugh-why-oll - an Ken ken

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  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jon Mills 
  To: Standard Cornish discussion list 
  Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:48 AM
  Subject: Re: [Spellyans] Lhuyd's Cornish

  Lhuyd's "Mi a uon " follows Origo Mundi (595-6) "my ny won leuerel prak | gans pup na vethaf lethys".
  Ol an gwella
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "nicholas williams" 
    To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" 
    Subject: [Spellyans] Lhuyd's Cornish
    Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 12:00:30 +0100

    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.


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Dr. Jon Mills,
School of European Culture and Languages,
University of Kent

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