[Spellyans] Nance's purism (again)

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Tue Jul 26 11:12:31 BST 2011

To be fair, though, the texts we have probably only represent a  
fraction of what was once available, so we're making judgements on a  
very incomplete set of evidence.

Where there were gaps, Nance took educated guesses, so (for example)  
he included 'yeth' based upon Welsh 'iaith'.  When Tregear was  
discovered, there it was, as 'eyth'.  The discovery of BK also  
exonerated Nance in several instances of words not previously  
attested.  Who knows what is to found in those documents still to be  

While this information is more than valuable, it has to be remembered  
that Cornish is being revived and promoted for the 21st century.  New  
words will be coined.  Some already have been and are in use.  New  
preferences will be made and, in time, will be superseded by others.   
Grammatical construction will undergo changes, too, because that is  
the nature of languages if they are to live and progress.

Some disagree with my view that place-name history is textual evidence  
that we should include, and that's one of my main reasons for  
collecting all the place-name evidence that I can find.  Let's face  
it, we need every scrap of evidence that's available to us.  That even  
includes words that don't occur in any known texts and we have no idea  
of their meaning.


On 26 Gor 2011, at 10:51, nicholas williams wrote:

> Nance preferred the Passion Poem to all other texts in Cornish,  
> possibly because it was the oldest
> continuous text and therefore the most archaic in language. It  
> contains the only t-preterite known
> in Cornish pan gemert kyg a werhas 'when he took flesh from a  
> Virgin' PA 3b. It is also the only
> text in which dothye, gwrusse, etc. are pluperfects rather than  
> conditionals.
> On the other hand PA is full of borrowings, many of which Nance  
> himself avoided. Here is a list
> of verbs in -a and -ya borrowed from Middle English (I spell them in  
> UC spelling):
> acordya 'agree'
> amontya 'calculate, tot up'
> attendya 'pay attention to'
> batalyas 'fight, do battle'
> blamya 'blame'
> cachya 'catch'
> chacya 'chase, harrow'
> chanjya 'change'
> chonsya 'chance, venture'
> comfortya 'comfort'
> convyctya 'convict, vanquish'
> crakkya 'crack, break'
> dampnya 'damn, condemn'
> decevya 'deceive'
> delyfrya 'deliver, free'
> desyrya 'desire'
> dowtya 'doubt, fear'
> droppya 'drop, drip'
> dyghtya 'dight, treat'
> dyscomfortya 'discomfort'
> dyspresya 'dispraise, criticise'
> dyssaytya 'deceive'
> fastya 'fix'
> grevya 'grieve, afflict'
> grondya 'found, base'
> grontya, growntya 'grant'
> gwarnya 'warn'
> jujjya 'judge'
> muvya 'move'
> notya 'make known, note'
> onora 'honour'
> ordna 'ordain, command'
> paynya 'pain, afflict'
> plentya 'make complaint, complain'
> praysya 'praise'
> prysonya 'imprison'
> rebukya 'rebuke'
> receva 'receive'
> redya 'read'
> scorjya 'scourge, whip'
> scornya 'scorn, mock'
> servya 'serve'
> settya 'set, place'
> shakya 'shake'
> shyndya 'damage, harm' (archaic 'shend')
> sopya 'sup, have supper'
> spedya 'succeed, hurry'
> storvya 'die of cold, starve'
> strechya 'stretch, delay'
> stryvya 'strive, dispute'
> takkya 'nail, tack'
> temptya 'tempt'
> tormentya 'torment, torture'
> tochya 'touch'
> usya 'use, wear'.
> The adjective specyal 'special' occurs at PA 110d and is not  
> attested again until Tregear.
> Venjyans <venions> occurs at least twice, but dyal is not attested  
> in PA.
> Servys <seruys> is attested seven times in PA. Gonys occurs twice  
> and is a verb.
> Pryns (<prins> 3, <pryncis> 1) is attested. Pensevyk is not.
> Contrary occurs at PA 146d. It is not attested again until TH.
> Acord 'agreement' occurs at PA 7b; Nance's preferred word is ambos  
> which is unattested in PA.
> PA demonstrates that the vocabulary of the earliest Middle Cornish  
> contained many borrowings from Middle English.
> Nance imitated some aspects of PA, but other features he preferred  
> to ignore.
> Nicholas
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Craig Weatherhill

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