[Spellyans] chair

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Sun Jul 19 18:06:07 BST 2009

I think it's hard to say what is an archaic word and what isn't.   
Again, I have to stress that we are limited in the number of texts  
available to us - the original corpus may have twice or even three  
times as big.  Because a word doesn't occur in the texts we have  
doesn't mean to say that it was out of use, or invalid because it  
doesn't appear.

By way of example, OCV had 'dioc' - "lazy".  This doesn't appear in  
Middle Cornish texts and one might be forgiven for thinking it had  
gone out of use.  Then Gendall found it in a Late Cornish context, by  
which time it had become 'jack'.  The inference from this is that the  
word had to have been in use throughout Middle Cornish fir it to turn  
up in Late Cornish.

I remain of the mind that place-names are as valuable a source of  
vocabulary as the texts simply because they give us words that were in  
use and understood.

Who is to say that 'cadar' wasn't used in MC?

Cornish has two words - cadar and chayr.  For me, these are of equal  
validity and use for today is a matter of choice.  By the same token,  
we can choose to use awan or ryver; convedhes or understondya, etc.   
The fact that we have these choices, and know that both were genuinely  
used in Cornish is a plus, not a minus.


On 19 Gor 2009, at 14:47, Michael Everson wrote:

> On 19 Jul 2009, at 14:08, Eddie Climo wrote:
>> On 19 Gor 2009, at 10:01, Michael Everson wrote:
>>> Your logic is assailable, Eddie.
>>> Are you saying that the word which Cornish speakers commonly and  
>>> usually used for chair (namely, "chair") has no place in Revived  
>>> Cornish?
>> Your own logic is threadbare here, Michael, or at least your powers  
>> of observation.
> Fine, let us refrain from disparaging one another then. :-S
>> Manifestly I did not say that, otherwise you would not have to ask,  
>> would you? To clarify, I have no objection to people using chayr if  
>> they choose to; I merely assert the reasons why cadar whould not be  
>> rejected.
> No! No! I did not say "cader" should be rejected. I suggest however,  
> that since the name of the familiar object is well attested as  
> "chair", we should prefer that for the ordinary word, and reserve  
> "cader" for less generic items. "Chair of linguistics" and  
> "chairman" would certainly suit that usage.
>>> Since it is by far the most common word for the object in the  
>>> texts, why not use it as the most common word in the revival?
>> Because cadar is more commonly used nowadays, and has been over 4  
>> generations of the Revival.
> Then what use have you for "chair"?
> None, I guess.
>>> If Gendall restricts the use of "cadar" to a position and the  
>>> person who holds it, he does so because he recognizes that the  
>>> usual word for chair is "chair".
>> Perhaps he does, but many Revivalists don't agree with his  
>> restriction.
> Few Revivalists know Cornish as well as Gendall. I don't. Neither do  
> you.
>>> I think your suggestion that "chair" is frequently attested  
>>> because the corpus is slanted towards medieval religious plays to  
>>> be very strange indeed.
>> I find your suggestion that 4 generations of RC usage should be  
>> overturned to be very strange indeed.
> You did not respond to my criticism. Did you not suggest that the  
> corpus is slanted towards medieval religious plays? (Yes, you did.)  
> So if those texts have "chair", does that mean that "chair" is  
> "medieval" or "religious"?
> That's not what the Bêwnans Meryasek text looks like to me.
>> Languages evolve, even ones in the situation of RC, and this is  
>> just another example of such evolution.
> Not four generations of usage. Do we even know ANY fourth-generation  
> Cornish speakers? No. We may have 104 years of usage, of learners  
> attempting to master the language. That is not the same as  
> generational transmission.
>> Or are we to leave the development of our language solely in the  
>> hands of academics and bureaucrats?
> There wouldn't be a language without people studying the SOURCES for  
> Cornish and attempting to understand what is there and pass that  
> knowledge on. It is the height of arrogance, is it not, to say that  
> any of us know Cornish better than those who wrote the sources?
> So when we learn new things from the sources, we can either, humbly,  
> revise our pratice, or we can, arrogantly, give them two fingers and  
> say "I don't care what the sources say, people have been making this  
> mistake since Nance and that qualifies as 'evolution'."
> Well, I don't subscribe to the latter view. Where Nance was wrong --  
> even where Caradar and Talek followed him because they didn't have  
> the same kind of access to text analysis we do -- then we should try  
> to do better than Nance.
> (And where George errs, we should do better than George. And were  
> Williams errs, we should do better than Williams.)
> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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Craig Weatherhill

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