[Spellyans] The Contribution of Nance

Ray Chubb ray at spyrys.org
Thu Feb 24 09:10:32 GMT 2011

On 23 Whe 2011, at 18:49, Eddie Climo wrote:

>  Nicholas (and you) feel quite at liberty to stand on the shoulders  
> of Nance and others of his generation in order to kick them in the  
> teeth, by disparaging them as "poor linguists".

Eddie does have a point here although he could have expressed it in a  
more temperate way.

I have recently been re-reading chapter 15 of Cornish Today by Nicholas.

At 15.2 item 3 we have:  "UC" (and by implication Nance) "suppresses  
variation in Middle Cornish".  Later on the chapter goes on to  
criticise various grammatical structures but fails to point our that  
the main source of grammar for Unified was A.S.D Smith not Nance.

Nance's 1938 dictionary is an invaluable  and irreplaceable work now  
into its 5th edition, at least.  As far as I can see Nance has not  
attempted to suppress anything.  Sure he had to make some spelling  
choices, that's why he called it Unified Cornish, but the Celtic, for  
lack of a better description, and the loan word are given and it is up  
to the reader to make a choice.  In addition many of the spelling  
variations recommended by Nicholas in UCR are given as alternatives in  
Nance's dictionary.

Nance has been criticised for not being a linguist, this may be true  
but he was not a 'poor linguist' he was an adequate linguist for a  
revived language where there will always be uncertainty and more to be  
discovered.  Also he was modest and was able to recognise that there  
are uncertainties;  qualities that a few on this forum could do with.

What he most definitely was, was a great linguistic archaeologist.  In  
other words he was carefully recording the location and depth of what  
he found and putting things into the right context.

Eddie is right we are standing on the shoulders of a giant and let us  
not forget that.

Ray Chubb


   Agan Tavas web site:  www.agantavas.com

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