[Spellyans] a vry

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu Nov 7 13:34:00 GMT 2013

I am not sure that I want to engage with Nance's syntax and morphology at the moment, because I have other matters in hand.
And also because there are many who so revere Nance (rightly) that they are unwilling to allow the possibility that he might have been wrong on occasion.
Nance was a pioneer and to publish a hatchet job on UC would perhaps not be fair, given that he cannot defend himself. 

You may have seen my recent publication Geryow Gwir, in which I compare Nance's lexicon with the vocabulary of the texts.
Who would have thought, for example, that the commonest word in Middle Cornish for 'sight' was not golok or vu but syght?
Or that the commonest way of saying 'in spite of' is not awos but in spît dhe or in despît dhe?
Nance taught that whans and whansa were the ordinary words for 'desire' and 'to desire'. In fact desîr and desîrya are commoner than either. Desîr is first attested at PC 18 and desîrya at PA 4a.
Diank 'to escape' is attested 3 times, but scappya 'to escape' occurs 15 times.

We were all taught to say mès for 'but', but mas is commoner in this sense. By far the commonest word, however, is sow.
I cannot understand why Nance invented the word *dewotty for 'pub, tavern' when both tavern and hostlery are attested.
He also invented *gwerthjy for 'shop'. Caradar never uses this but prefers shoppa, which occurs in place-names.
Nance invented avon 'river'. The attested form is awan, known from Lhuyd and one place-name. This shift v > w is also seen in cavos/cawos. I have collected 5 examples of cavos (mostly from Late Cornish), whereas cawos is attested 11 times and at all periods. Nance's default form was cafos with a voiceless medial consonant. It is clear, however, that Cornish had two stems, cafos, cafus, caffus and cavos/cawos. Compare Middle Welsh caff- and cav- and Middle Breton caffout and kavout. Forms with permanent initial lenition are found incidentally in TH as gafus and SA as gowis.

Nance used yowynk as his default form for 'young' but this occurs only in the phrases yowynk ha loos and yowynk ha hen, where four syllables are needed for the metre. The ordinary word for 'young' is yonk at all periods. Indeed den yonk and flogh yonk are both attested in PA.

Nance taught that 'England' could be *Pow Sows, *Bro Sows or Pow an Sowson. In fact on the last is attested at all and only once. The ordinary word for 'England' is Inglond which is found 3 times in TH. Nance used Alban for 'Scotland', which he got from Lhuyd. In Modern Welsh the ordinary word for 'Scotland' is Sgotland; yr Alban is literary. Scotland was the ordinary word in Cornish; it occurs three times in BK.
Of course *Iwerdhon (Ywerdhon) is also an invention of Nance's. The attested word is Wordhen, which occurs in Lhuyd and in Tonkin.
Nance taught *Kembry for 'Wales' even though Lhuyd had Kembra, Kimbra, which form has been corroborated by BK.


On 7 Nov 2013, at 11:12, ewan wilson wrote

> Nicolas' observations on Nance's UC grammar as compsred with what's in the actual texts is extremely useful.
> I realise it'd be a major task to expand this but if you went through the grammar- syntax and morphology- systematically, noting such disjunctions I reckon you'd be doing us an immense favour, Nicholas! We'd owe you an even more immense debt of gratitude!
> What sayest thou?!

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