[Spellyans] Pronuncaiation

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Jan 23 11:06:07 GMT 2013

Incidentally the word freth is used by many to mean 'fluent' in a language. This goes back to Nance and is not really legitimate, I think. I have collected the following examples of freth in the texts:

In vn stevya oll y eth bys yn pylat o Iustis vn ezow zozo yn freth yndelma a leuerys ‘Hurryingly they all went to Pilate who was a justice; a Jew emphatically spoke thus to him…’ PA 239ab
lyuyreugh whet pan theugh mar freth pyv a whyleugh ‘say again, since you come so eagerly, who is it you seek’ PC 1115-16
otte lour kunys gyne whythyns lemmyn pup yn freth neb na whytho grens fannye ‘here I have a lot of firewood; now let everyone blow assiduously. Let him who doesn’t blow fan’ PC 1241-43
syr doctors rys yv theugh whet bys ma fo gurys an dywet certan gynen laufurye rak an harlot a geus freth ‘sir doctors you must still, until the end be achieved, indeed travel with us, for the scoundrel talks glibly’ PC 1829-32
myl weth a uyth an dyweth me a’n te re synt iouyn ha hakere es an dalleth rak henna tus ervys freth gor th’y wythe atermyn ‘a thousand times worse, I swear by St Jovyn, and nastier than the beginning, therefore send alert armed men to guard him in time’ RD 348-52
duen scon in ban then meneth ha why covsugh arluth freth dotho agis galarov ‘let us go up the mountain soon and you, vigorous lord, tell him your grief’ BM 2533-35 
Gwayt bos war a’th lavarow, fatel rylly gorthyby, rag fregh ew eff ‘Take care of your words, how you will answer, for he is impetuous’ BK 555-57
Bethans mar freth del vynho, nu’m bues owne a gows orto gans gweras Christ, arluth nef ‘Let him be as insistent as he wishes, I am not afraid to speak to him with the help of Christ, Lord of heaven’ BK 558-60
pur welcum ough genan ny del on guer freth in casow ‘you are very welcome here with us as we are effective men in battles’ BK 1363-64
Me ew myghtern in Island, maga freth avel turand, corf ankengy ha dylys ‘I am king in Iceland, as impetuous as a tyrant, a grim and unrestrained man’ BK 1449-52
Fers of ha freth. Penagel a’m sorr gans cam, ef a’n gevyth tebal-lam ‘I am fierce and impetuous. Whoever angers me wrongly will get a nasty shock’ BK 1473-75
Der gras Christ a’gen pernas, me, Modreth, a lever freth: Arthur a vyth guarthevyas ha’y yskerans ef a feth ‘By the grace of Christ who redeemed us, I Modred, speak emphatically: Arthur will be victorious and he will vainquish his foes’ BK 1486-89
Hail, arluth fers, freth gans cletha! ‘Hail, fierce lord, vigorous with the sword!’ BK 1771-72 
Hayl, arluth freth ha gallasak! ‘Hail, impetuous, powerful lord!’ BK 1780-81
Kynth ewa freth, settyough e coyt (elhas, soweth!) in dan e doyt ‘Though he be bold, set it quick (alas and alack) under his plate’ BK 1821-24
Freth y feth gweregys, mar peth rys dos the henna, ol the’th desyer ‘He will be vigorously helped, if it is necessary to come to that, all according to your desire’ BK 1846-48
Kyn fe mar freth du Halan an vlethan i’n kynsa deyth, me a gows war mab Malan ha ny’n sparya’, wor ow fayth! ‘Though he be so bold at the Calends of the year, the first day, I will speak by the son of the Devil, that I shall not spare him, upon my faith!’ BK 1880-84
Lowena this, myghtern freth, gwerror fers ha galosak! ‘Joy to you, bold king, a fierce and powerful warrior!’ BK 1996-97
The gyrryow freth in tyhogal a’th set in nans ‘Your impudent words in truth will bring you down’ BK 2148-50
An trubut pan ve tochys, e worthyb o tyn ha freth hag ef garaw ‘When the tribute was discussed, his answer was sharp and impudent and he was grim’ BK 2264-64
Arthor Gornow, myghtern freth, a vyn orta syngy cas ‘Arthur the Cornishman, a truculent king, will join battle with him’ BK 2502-03
Lowena thu’m arluth freth, gallosak drys tus an bys! ‘Joy to my impetuous lord, powerful beyond all men in the world!’ BK 2554-55.

Freth seems to mean 'assiduous, impetuous, eager, bold, impudent' rather than 'fluent'.

I recently got an email about Tregedna in which it spoke of tus nebes freth i.e. fairly fluent people. Unfortunately freth doesn't mean 'fluent' and tus means
'men' not 'people'. The email also used the verb *gwellhe of improving one's Cornish. Gwellhe is unattested. The word for 'to improve' in Cornish is amendya:

mar ny wreth ymamendye ef a wra tyn the punssye may leuerry ogh ellas ‘if you do not improve, he will severely punish you, so that you will cry Oh, alas!’ OM 1526-28
hethe the’n dor my a’d pys scon ef a vyth amendyys my a’n scarf yn ta whare ‘hand it down, I beg you; it will soon be set to right’ OM 2521-23
mara mynne amendye guel vye y thylyfrye hep drocoleth thyworthy’n ‘if he is willing to improve, it would be best for us to release him without harm from us’ PC 1862-64
ha mar ny fyn dynaghe y gow ha mercy crye hag amendye y treyson gans spern guregh y curene ‘and if he does not deny his lies and beg for mercy and amend his treason, crown him with thorns’ PC 2060-63
vnwyth a caffen hansell me a russa amendie ‘if I could only have breakfast, I should improve’ BM 110-11
yth ew gwris da aga rebukya, may hallans bos methek ha kemeras sham aga fawtys ha dre rebukys amendia aga lewde bewnans ‘it is well done to rebuke them, that they may be embarrassed and be ashamed of their faults and through rebukes amend their wicked life’ TH 29a
Christ re’th amendya der ras ha roy thys gwel esethva ‘May Christ improve you by his grace and give you a better place to sit’ BK 396-97.
kebmys pehas es in byes gwrres gans tues heb amendya mathew dew an tas serrys bythquath gwyell mabe dean omma ‘so much sin has been committed by men in the world without improvement, that God the Father is angry ever to have created manking here’ CW 2146-49
kemmys pehas es in beyse ha nyng es tam amendya mayth ew an tas dew serrys gans oll pobell an bys ma ‘there is so much sin in the world and there is not a jot of improvement that God the Father with all the people of this world’ CW 2335-38
rag henna theth cregye me ny vannaf moy es kye na mendya ny venyn ny awoos theth gyrryau wastys ‘therefore I will not believe you any more than a dog, nor will we improve for all your wasted words’ CW 2359-62
hag eddrag thothef yma bythquath mabe dean tha vos gwryes rag henna gwrewgh amendya ‘and he regrets that ever mankind was created, therefore improve’ CW 2339-41.

Starting with Nance revivalists have been unhappy about borrowings from English in Cornish. This unhappiness, in my view, is unjustified. In the first place English borrowings have been in Cornish since the OC period, e.g. robbior, lappior, redior, yurl, hule 'owl', herring 'herring' whence hernen. Indeed the presence of borrowings from Old English in OCV enabled Lhuyd to determine that the glossary was Cornish rather than Breton or Welsh. In the second place many borrowings go unnoticed, e.g. trailya 'to turn', sordya 'to arouse', dyghtya 'to treat, to prepare', gocky 'foolish'. In the third place ME borrowings are a distinctive feature of Middle Cornish from PA onwards. Here is the second stanza of PA

Suel a vynno bos sylwys
golsowens ow lauarow
a ihesu del ve helheys
war an bys avel carow
Ragon menough rebekis
ha dyspresijs yn harow
yn growys gans kentrow fastis
peynys bys pan ve marow

There are four borrowed verbs in the second distich: rebukya, dyspresya, fastya and painya. 
Here is the first stanza of Origo Mundi:

En tas a nef y'm gylwyr;
formyer pup tra a vyt gvrys
Onan ha try on yn gvyr
en tas ha’n map ha’n spyrys
ha hethyv me a thesyr 
dre ov grath dalleth an beys
y lauaraf nef ha tyr
bethens formyys orth ov brys

Formyer 'creator', desirya 'to desire', grath (grâss) 'grace' and formya 'to create' are all borrowings from Middle English.

Much revived Cornish looks so unlike real Cornish precisely because it avoids borrowings. Caradar understood this and used mona 'money', not arhans, which means 'silver'. He called a shop shoppa, not *gwerthjy. He didn't as far as I am aware use *dewotty but tavern, etc. 
If we are reviving a language without a continuous tradition of native speakers and without a sizeable community of people for whom Cornish is a first language, we should, I believe, revive the language as we find it, not as we would wish it to be. Otherwise we are conlanging. 


On 22 Jan 2013, at 17:50, Ken MacKinnon wrote:

> I think that garow / marow is an effective rhyming contrast.  I should have thought of garow as I have been having a discussion with Craig only today about this word.

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