[Spellyans] Whedhlow Kernowek: Stories in Cornish

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sat Mar 13 11:58:41 GMT 2010

On 13 Mar 2010, at 10:50, Eddie Climo wrote:
On 10 Mer 2010, at 19:25, Michael Everson wrote:
>> Without any doubt Caradar (A. S. D. Smith, 1883–1950) was the best writer of Cornish of the early revival.
> Without any doubt, Caradar's writings will be preferred by all Kernewegoryon of discernment in the original UC, just as the writer intended them to be read.

Well, now these two propositions aren't symmetrical.

The first "Caradar was the best writer of the early revivalists" could be argued, if someone were to say, "No, Hal Wyn or Jenner or Nance was a better writer." (I don't think anyone will argue it, but it could be opposed by argument and example.)

The second, well, isn't really a proposition. It's your opinion, Eddie, to which you are welcome, but which not everyone shares, nor must. I think, for example, that I have some "discernment", but I don't prefer UC. I never have preferred it. I preferred UCR to UC, and I don't prefer UCR any more. 

I think it is putting words in Caradar's mouth to talk about "what he intended". Of course it goes both ways. 

1) I happen to believe -- because of his own writings in which he criticizes aspects of UC -- that Caradar would have agreed with the discussion in "Cornish Today", and I think that it is not unreasonable to suggest that he would have been in broad agreement with the discussion in "Towards Authentic Cornish" and with the UdnFormScrefys, AHG, and Spellyans. You may object that this is guess-work on my part, and so it is. But I can back it up with some argument: Caradar's own criticisms of UC.

2) You seem to suggest ("as he intended") that Caradar would have insisted that his works be kept in UC until the end of time. I think this begs the question: Caradar wrote in UC because UC was on offer. There was no KK or UCR or KS1 or KD or SWF or KS. There was Jenner's spelling, but by 1948 people just weren't using that. You seem to suggest that he would repudiate any re-spelling of his work, since you imply that his work should only be read in UC "just as the author intended". He wrote in UC, yes, but he could hardly have written in anything else. What argument can you give from Caradar's own writings that he would have opposed any modernization of or change to his prose? 

A number of people who use UC seem to feel that Caradar's texts should *only* be read in UC. I don't see any convincing argument for this view. After all, no one says that Shakespeare's texts should *only* be read in the First Folio spelling -- almost all editions of Shakespeare use modern spelling. No one says that William Jordan's Creation of the World should *only* be read in Jordan's spelling -- Jordan has been published in UC and in KK, to cater for people who are reading those orthographies. 

What would make Caradar's spelling sacrosanct and immutable, when other texts are not? Has he become some sort of saint? I don't believe he would have wanted to. I think he was a practical fellow who hoped to make it easier for people to learn Cornish. Not to learn Unified Cornish. But to learn *Cornish*.

If there are people who want to read unreformed UC, that's fine. There are people out there, however, who don't read UC, who aren't comfortable with it (any more than some of us are comfortable with KK), and who are, I believe, going to be interested in the new book. I don't believe that it does Caradar any honour to insist that his text *only* ever be read in UC. In my view, that just puts a barrier between him and the next generations of Revivalists. And I don't believe that the new book does Caradar any dishonour, either. That was certainly not its intention.

In Ireland we have had spelling reforms. Irish used to be written with Gaelic script; then it was Romanized; then they had a pretty major spelling reform. Almost NO ONE likes to read either the Gaelic script or the first Romanized script any more. It is "too hard" for easy comprehension. I can tell you that even I find UC to be a bit "too hard" for my tastes. I read UCR and the SWF and KS much more easily, because the spelling better fits the pronunciation. 

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

More information about the Spellyans mailing list