[Spellyans] a vry

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Thu Nov 7 17:51:55 GMT 2013

Thanks for the response to my email. I agree that your revision of UC has
resulted in several very readable translations into Cornish which have been
a great help to many learners. I can also see that Lhuyd may well have had
an imperfect understanding of parts of Cornish syntax.  I, and I expect
other RLC users too,  will be quite happy for you to point out where you
think we are going wrong in grammatical matters. However, you haven't
answered the questions that arise in connection with the spoken language. It
is an important matter for those involved in trying to learn and teach how
to speak Cornish. In his own orthography Lhuyd was largely trying to  write
what he heard. Do you think he failed to an extent that makes his material
too suspect to use as a model? Or do you think, as have some notable Welsh
academics in the past, that the spoken language is somehow substandard. But
the spoken language is what is learnt first by every language user.



From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of
Nicholas Williams
Sent: 06 November 2013 21:40
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] a vry


I don't think we have. Gendall thought the choice was between UC and the
Later Cornish of Rowe, Boson and the eighteenth century scholars. Lhuyd is
unreliable, because he didn't know Cornish and never really understood parts
of the syntax, for example he writes me a vev 'I was', etc. instead of the
correct me a ve, etc.

Gendall has since revised his position and is now prepared to use Tregear as
a source, though TH is Middle Cornish, not Late Cornish in orthography. 

The choice was not between Middle Cornish and Late Cornish, but between
Nance's purist construct i.e. UC, and the actual Cornish of the texts.

Nance was in my view quite culpable here.


It is obvious from the texts and from Lhuyd's express statement on the
matter, that the ordinary and neutral way of making the future was with the

mynnes. I will go in the texts is me a vyn mos, but Nance used my a wra mos
or my a.

It is also obvious that with conditionals the auxiliary verb in the texts is
dos: mar tema disquethas theugh SA 60; mones the vyras deffry

mar a tueth ha dasserhy RD 682-3. Nance didn't allow this, or perhaps he
hadn't noticed it.

Negative unreal conditions in the texts are made with na ve: na ve bos fals
an denma

nyn drossen ny bys deso PA 99b; na ve creya warnogh why kellys ol y fyen ny
BM 2169-70

It is clear that the ordinary way of making the 1st sg and plural imperative
was with gas/gesowgh: gas vy lemmyn th'y hure

yn queth kyns ys y vayle RD 3196-97; Gesow ny the wull den TH 1a.

Nance does not seem to have noticed that indirect speech could be expressed
after dell or fatel in the earliest texts:

a tus vas why re welas 

fetel formyas dev an tas

nef ha nor war lergh y vrys 'good people you have seen that God the Father
created heaven and earth according to his will' OM 2825-27.

Pre-occlusion occurs in BM CW and Lhuyd. Nance based much of his phonology
on Lhuyd but he wouldn't countenance pre-occlusion.

The rhotacisation of -s- in gerys < gesys and nag eran ny < nag eson ny
occurs in TH and SA, but Nance didn't allow it.

3rd plural prepositional pronouns are well attested in TH and SA, but are
not countenanced in UC.


Nance thought that the reflexive had to be made with om-, which is not true.
y honen is commoner; verbs in om- are often different in sense from the


I could continue. In so many ways Nance went for the archaic and the purist,
when the actual language of the MC texts from PA onwards

was much more racy, more colloquial than he allowed.


Gendall saw that UC was unworkable, but made, I believe, the wrong choice.
Instead of following the texts and producing a workable version of revived

Middle Cornish while it was still written in the traditional way and was
still a full language, Gendall attempt to base his system on the fragmentary
remains of 17th and 18th century Cornish.


It is for this reason that I constantly stress the continuity between Middle
and Late Cornish, which Nance's UC regrettably tends to disguise.

Of course Gendall got bogged down in orthography because his sources lacked
a standard, unlike the authors of the sixteenth century.







On 6 Nov 2013, at 19:54, Chris Parkinson wrote:


I think we have already covered this ground in a discussion in May. Late
Cornish as I understand it was  the spoken Cornish which Lhuyd and many
contemporaries attempted to collect and record before the language was lost.


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