[Spellyans] tavas

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Sat May 18 09:19:56 BST 2013

Of course there are examples of colloquial language in the plays. Such language can be found in Shakespeare. And Late Cornish can be and has been used for discussing learned topics. But these facts cannot be used to demonstrate that there is no difference (except the spelling) between an informal spoken style of Cornish at one end of the spectrum and a formal literary style at the other. Users can of course make choices in between. As they do in Welsh, where, as Eddie points out, there is probably a greater gap.


But to see the difference, there is no need to just rely on impressions. The differences can be observed and are quantifiable. In continuous informal speech, speakers are likely to do the following things:

Reduce diphthongs  e. g. ‘ow’ to ‘a’ or ‘o’

Drop final fricatives e.g. from ev, cov, margh,  the ending ‘-owgh’ etc.

Drop unstressed syllables e.g. from adro, alebma, ames, avel etc.

Omit particles such as the ‘a’ in ‘my a vedn’, the interrogative particle ‘a’ and ‘ow’ when it is not just reduced to schwa.

Use colloquial contractions such as ‘Thera vy,’ ‘Theram’, ‘N’orave’ etc.


It is the choice of the speakers, dependent on the situation, how much they use these and similar devices to enable them to produce speech more efficiently.


In Desky Kernowek’ as Michael pointed out, there is a very useful chapter of idioms taken from all stages of Cornish. There are over 170 from Late sources, (not including CW) But in putting these into KS orthography, about 80 changes have been made, it seems in order to standardise LC to a more formal style. I am talking about the restoring of the particle ‘ow’,  and of dropped unstressed syllables. Missing final fricatives  have been put back and the particle ‘a’ reappears where it wasn’t used in the original. Plus there are various other small changes. I am sure the author must have some rationale for doing this and I would very much like to know what it is. But having , as it were, airbrushed out so many of the characteristics of Late, informal, spoken Cornish, he can hardly argue that therefore they don’t exist! Chris


From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of Eddie Climo
Sent: 17 May 2013 21:09
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] tavas


I agree entirely, having long been of the impression that the MC texts generally read more like colloquial language than a supposed 'literary' register. Of course, I make this judgement by comparison with the the greater gap between the two registers in Welsh.


Eddie Climo


On 17 May 2013, at 15:59, Nicholas Williams <njawilliams at gmail.com> wrote:

What Gendall says is not wholly true. All the plays, the Ordinalia, Beunans Meriasek, the Creation of the World and now Bewnans Ke are in the form of dialogue. The distinction which Gendall and others make between "literary" Middle Cornish and "colloquial" Late Cornish cannot be sustained. Look for example at the following random examples from the plays (

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