[Spellyans] vocabulary

Ken MacKinnon ken at ferintosh.org
Fri Jun 25 07:32:00 BST 2010

Do we have a grid reference and OS sheet number for Bostrase?

- Ken

Ken MacKinnon is now on Broadband  with new e-mail addresses:-

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My former e-mail addresses are no longer able to be used.

(Prof) Ken MacKinnon
Ivy Cottage, Ferintosh,
The Black Isle, by Dingwall,
Ross-shire  IV 7 8HX
Scotland  UK

Tel: 01349 - 863460

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Craig Weatherhill" <craig at agantavas.org>
To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:17 AM
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] vocabulary

Perhaps I should make my view plainer than I have.  I accept that
Cornish contains loan words from all periods and several languages;
however, I'd rather not see them as first options. I would far rather
use (for, say, valley) nans, stras, tenow, etc., than valy.  In fact,
until Nicholas pointed it out, I didn't even know that valy existed in
Cornish texts with that meaning.  I'd only ever seen the word (a
different word, of course) in the exclamation "Tety valy!".  Staying
with 'valley', the genuine Cornish choices give a greater scope for
accuracy:  nans "river valley";  stras "flat-bottomed valley"; tenow
(tnow) "tributary valley", etc.

(As an aside, the stable yard at Bostraze [bos + stras] is at the head
of a generally narrow, steep-sided valley but, at this point, the
valley head proper widens into a wide and very flat-bottomed bowl
surrounded by hills - a remarkable feature of the landscape and a
stunningly good example of a 'stras'.  A good map with contours shows
it very clearly).

The loan words, though, can often work this way, too.  For 'table' we
have the choices of bord (more accurately a table-top, and, of course,
a loan-word), moos and tabel (another loan-word attested in the place-
name Table Maen and its various spellings - the stone still exists at
Mayon, Sennen - named after it - and is the site of an Arthurian
legend and a doomy prophecy of Merlin).


On 23 Efn 2010, at 07:51, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> Comments inserted below…
> From: Ceri Young
> Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 1:48 AM
> Thanks Ewan,
> (Sorry to Spellyans for deviating in this thread, it's still in the  vein 
> of Craig's post.)
> The thing is Ewan that the word 'great' even rehashed as 'grêt'  isn't 
> Welsh. (You won't find it in a Welsh dictionary to attest for  it being 
> Welsh (the Welsh themselves to my knowledge have never  chosen to include 
> the word), yet you'll find it frequently in Welsh  texts, novels, magazine 
> articles and every other episode of Pobol y  Cwm etc.). Yet if you asked 
> someone who regularly used it in their  colloquial Welsh if it was 
> 'Welsh', I doubt they'd even concede that  it was. They know what it is. 
> It's English, and it's in a  particularly English habit that they use it. 
> Thankfully, Welsh is  sufficiently understood and documented by Welsh 
> speakers to defend  itself against outsiders presuming that such a word is 
> deemed to be  Welsh by the Welsh themselves.
> Yet of course, if every Welsh speaker and dictionary vanished, and  just a 
> handful of texts or records survived... Presumably alien  intelligences 
> might write the word 'grêt' into a Welsh dictionary,  presuming the Welsh 
> truly regarded that as a formal part of their  language...
> I thought as much. Thanks for this little excursion into Welsh Welsh 
> life. I’ve always enjoyed watching Pobol y Cwm and other Welsh TV  and 
> film productions and have noticed the many spontaneous  Anglicisms (“Mae 
> pizza yn sort o ethnic!”).
> “A clear phenomenon exists where the Welsh will use English words,  even 
> Cymricise English words in pronunciation and spelling in full  knowledge 
> of what those words are with complete (yet tacit)  acknowledgement that 
> those words are not Welsh. How then, do the  academics of the Cornish 
> revival account for the possibility that  this pheonomenon existed in 
> Cornish? Surely, the answer is that they  can't. (You can't trust every 
> English word depoyed in Welsh to be a  wholly accepted and encorporated 
> part of the Welsh language - so why  would you ever do so in Late 
> Cornish?)
> Best wishes,
> Ceri”
> Again you assume that it is only Late Cornish that incorporated  loans. As 
> mentioned in my previous post, most English loan words are  actually 
> attested in Middle Cornish. I completely agree with you  that the 
> encroaching English language would have lead to a large  portion of the 
> Cornish speaking community to become bilingual and  then code switching 
> would have been quite normal. I would regard  Tregear’s Cornish as a 
> perfect example of this. Because of the lack  of learned ecclesiastical 
> vocabulary he used the terms current in  English, also rhetorical devices 
> and many of these I would say are  spontaneous and it would be wise to 
> look ate them critically and  imitate him only where his wording can be 
> corroborated in other  texts. His grammar, however, is an essential part 
> of the Revival as  it is our only MC prose text. So, no, I don’t think 
> “academics”  would discard the possibility of code switching phenomena in 
> bilingualCornwall.
> Dan
> From: ewan wilson <butlerdunnit at ntlworld.com>
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Ceri,
> I can understand why some English 'loans' make the more literate/ 
> articulate/purist Welsh cringe at times! I have native Welsh  speaking 
> friends in Aber who deplore such usage as 'downright lazy'  or 'perverse' 
> when perfectly good Welsh equivalents exist. However  others seem almost 
> to glory in doing so and insist theu're just as  'Welsh'!
> If a word like 'gret' gets sucked into the language in particular 
> contexts when does it become 'naturalised' and how do we decide it's  NOT 
> part of the language when it's being used in front of us.
> English as we all know is a real mongrel language with its rich 
> Norman/Latin strand and surely that has enriched it. Cornish seems  to be 
> nowhere near as 'penetrated' with borrowings but those it does  have seem 
> to have been absorbed into the very Celtic syntax and even  mutations 
> system so that as you point out it'd be practically  impossible to spot in 
> a fluent speaker's discourse.
> The very small number of as good as 'native' Cornish speakers who  still 
> use the tongue regularly must be a good pointer as to its  natural 
> development, whether they be 'literate' speakers or not. Can  one assume 
> the former would have a larger lexical base for pure  'Celtic' fluency 
> without resort to plugging the gaps with  (inevitably English) borrowing?
> That Cornish is good at coining new terms that seem to stick with  greater 
> facility I'd say than in Welsh where they can sound odd  ( pellgowser, 
> pellwollok, golghva-kerry) also acts as a protection  from Anglo- 
> infection!!
> Ewan.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Ceri Young
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:59 PM
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] vocabulary
> Although I have no qualifications to chip in, I agree with Craig  here 
> (and having itched to comment earlier I'm very glad to read his 
> response). When I hear a comment like Nicholas' "My preference is  for the 
> language of the texts rather than for some reCelticised  fantasy" I can't 
> help being reminded that to some, the whole Cornish  Revival is just one 
> elaborate fantasy of reCelticisation; of  salvaging lost Celticity from 
> the desolation of a tragic, sustained,  ethnocidal assault. It also then 
> strikes me that it's perfectly  natural to regard nurturing those late 
> Anglicisms is somewhat  contrary to the general ethos of such a fantasy of 
> reCelticisation.  Surely, just because a word is borrowed, doesn't make it 
> a formal  part of the language. Welsh speakers will routinely throw 
> English  loanwords like the adj. 'grêt' (great) (although they'll be using 
> it  as an interjection) into their speech and even write it into  informal 
> texts, but that doesn't mean 'grêt' is a Welsh word to be  found in or 
> even inserted into a Welsh dictionary as a translation  of 'great'.
> Even if I totally understand the need for the strictest academic 
> rectitude in the revival, I can also see why some might harbour an 
> instinct to purge such late Anglicisms from their own useage of  Revived 
> Cornish. It may not be remotely impartial or academic, but I  can quite 
> understand an uneasy attitude towards Anglicisms in Celtic  languages in 
> general, stemming from a sense of nationhood being  established and 
> complete from a given point that precludes influence  from a resented 
> imperial oppressor. (Perhaps as an Englishman,  Nicholas simply doesn't 
> see or feel this.) As a Welshman, I see the  Welsh nation as one of 
> Romano-British origins (and would have  assumed the Cornish might be 
> justified in thinking similarly) and  so, as Ken George is accused of 
> here, I can understand a bias  towards Celtic & Latin words, and some 
> unease towards Anglicisms.
> Beyond that, if those Anglicisms entered into Cornish via borrowing  and 
> were legitimised by Cornish language users taking them into  their 
> linguistic currency, what would be so wrong with Revived  Cornish speakers 
> borrowing from Cornish's sister languages (along  academic lines of their 
> own) - and legitimising any reCelticisation  of their language which they 
> see fit? I guess that simply can't  happen until the language is flying 
> naturally of its own accord, and  finally out of the hands of academics.
> Best wishes,
> Ceri
> From: Craig Weatherhill <craig at agantavas.org>
> To: spellyans at kernowek.net
> Sent: Tue, 22 June, 2010 18:56:22
> Subject: [Spellyans] vocabulary
> I'm concerned over one or two views that have been expressed re. 
> vocabulary.  On one hand I'm hearing support for tota Cornicitas,  and on 
> the other, I'm hearing that a word only attested in OCV and  not in the 
> MC/Tudor texts shouldn't be used (stevel being an example  that 
> immediately springs to mind; use rom instead is the advice).  I  don't 
> agree with this.  Here's an example to illustrate why I think  this way.
> Dyek (SWF: diek), 'lazy' occurs on OCV as 'dioc', and not in MC at  all. 
> Until the 80s, when Dick Gendall was the first to look at Late  Cornish in 
> depth, it was being assumed that the word didn't survive  into MC.  In 
> fact, it must have survived into Late Cornish because  it turns up in 
> dialect as 'jack'.  So, if the word made it to Late  Cornish and dialect, 
> it follows that it must have existed in MC.  We  just don't have a text 
> that features it and, let's face it, we only  have a fraction of the texts 
> that must once have existed.   Attestation in MC texts supports the use of 
> a word; absence from  what survives of the MC texts is not a reason for 
> rejection.  It  only tells us that the word isn't found in those few 
> texts; not that  it didn't exist.
> For me, tota Cornicitas is essential.
> I'm afraid that some words being put forward will never find use  with me. 
> I don't see the point of 'valy' for "valley", when so many  Cornish words 
> for different types of valley already exist. Nor am I  minded to reject 
> lyw/liw (or however we're spelling it) in favour of  'color'.  I want to 
> write Cornish.  I already know English.
> --
> Craig
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Craig Weatherhill

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