[Spellyans] vocabulary

ewan wilson butlerdunnit at ntlworld.com
Fri Jun 25 21:56:12 BST 2010

Re Tavarn Devrak,

I agree it is a splendid tale that deserves to be related in Cornish!
As for being reminiscent of something out of P. D. James - her feel for 
place, as in East Anglia is frisson inducing!- it took me back to a 
wonderful 'boys' own' adventure story I read away back in the late 60s as a 
child. It was entitled 'The Black Bog Mystery' and Blyton-like involved two 
teenage brothers holidaying at their Uncle's seaside vill, close to the 
treacherous black bog, and full of dastardly gangsters, smuggling and wise 
old rustics who could navigate around this perilous enviroment.
As a kid I remember being a bit sceptical such 'bubbling' sucking places 
could exist but trips to Dartmoor subsequently cured me of that and this 
story reinforces the truth. Thanks, Craig and Ken, even if a bit 

Now, what's the Cornish for 'sucking pit'?!

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ken MacKinnon" <ken at ferintosh.org>
To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Friday, June 25, 2010 7:40 AM
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] vocabulary

What a marvellous story!  Reads like something out of P.D.James.   Surely
worthy of feature in a forthcoming literary work.

- Ken

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

ken at ferintosh.org
and also at:-
ken.ferintosh at googlemail.com

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 8:44 AM
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] vocabulary

Off-topic, but a little story about the 'stras' at Bostraze.  The flat
bottom of the valley head is the infamous Bostraze bog - as lethal as
any of the more famous Dartmoor mires and, like some of them, has a
secret way across it.  The infamous Bog Inn, an unlicensed alehouse or
'wink' mentioned by Hamilton Jenkin, still stands there as a pair of
roofless ruins (house and barn).

Some years ago, a heavily pregnant Shire mare was caught in the bog
and was saved by several of us going into the bog on double safety
lines to get ropes around her to pull her out - by that time only her
head was showing.  We got her out after several hours (she was almost
a ton in weight), traumatised, filthy, but otherwise uninjured.  You
can imagine what those of of us who went into the bog looked like,
too, especially as we had to submerge to get the ropes under the mare,
and I can tell you (with a shudder) that the suction of that bog had
to be experienced to be believed!  Not to mention the smell. (There's
a similar bog between Bosporthennis and Bodrifty, close to Ventonegga
- these wonderful names! - which apparently swallowed a U.S World War
II tank!).  A fair few drops of cider were consumed after that
operation, I can tell you.

The mare recovered and a few weeks later, the foal was born.  It grew
into a stunningly beautiful, honey-natured grey Shire-Thoroughbred
mare nearly 18 hands tall (had I the money, I would have bought her on
the spot).  Her name?

Tavarn Devrak!


On 23 Efn 2010, at 08:17, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> 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).
> Craig
> 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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Craig Weatherhill

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