[Spellyans] "Late Cornish"

Chris Parkinson brynbow at btinternet.com
Thu Nov 14 17:35:30 GMT 2013

If revivalists paid even more attention to what is in the texts, they might
realise that the distinction made between Middle and Late Cornish is not
largely invented. It is the difference between spoken and written Cornish.
There are indeed very few features in the seventeenth and eighteenth century
texts that are not already present in earlier centuries. That is because
people were of course speaking as well as writing Cornish throughout. The
difference in orthography came about not only because of the loss of
Glasney. It came about because after the loss of the living scribal
tradition,   when the first revivalists were trying to record the language
they heard, they  basically used the English spelling system. And a
proportion of what they heard still being spoken had the normal
characteristics of spoken language.  Nicholas lists many examples to show
that Middle and Late Cornish are not different languages. Of course they
aren't different languages. They are varieties of the same language. And
some of the examples he gives of 'Late' Cornish in the text have just those
spoken characteristics I have listed elsewhere on this list. E.g. Davon>
danon,  forth>for,  godh>gor (loss of fricatives) and the omission of the
particle 'ow'.  Nicholas believes there was no need to spell Middle and Late
varieties of Cornish two separate ways. The proponents of RLC fully
understand the significance of the spoken language and have no wish to
divide the revival. We want to teach people to speak Cornish fluently and to
this end need  to have an orthography that has the flexibility to enable us
to do this.  SWF(L) is attempting to give us this. Unfortunately the
proponents of KS see no need to do this, and they show no sign of trying to
understand and respect what we are trying to do. I consider this to be great



From: Spellyans [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of
Nicholas Williams
Sent: 14 November 2013 12:24
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] "Late Cornish"


If revivalists paid more attention to what is in the texts, they might
realise that the distinction made between Middle and Late Cornish is largely

There are very few features in the seventeenth and eighteenth century texts,
that are not already present in the sixteenth and earlier centuries.

The difference in orthography came about because of the loss of Glasney, not
because the language had changed.

The proponents of RLC do not seem to have fully understand this and, in my
view, unnecessarily divided the revival. 


SA is a Middle Cornish text but it shows features often associated with the
18th century:


The scribe writes, for example:

ha e weth dir faith da ny 'and also through our good faith' i.e. without
agan, agen


rag ne geran cregy nanyle regardia gerryow Dew 'for we do not either believe
or regard the words of God' where ne geran ny cregy shows nag for nyns, eran
for eson and cregy for ow cregy.


blonogath da a thew, disquethis theny, vgy setha in gwlas neff, vgy intyr
dowla tvs an beis in tirmyn an sacrifice, the Canevar den gwyrrian a vo
desyrius e gowis: Christ ew devethis, not dir subtelnath, bus openly the
kenever a whelha ha vo o sevall rebta 'the good will of God shown to us, who
sits in the kingdom of heaven, who is in the hands of the men of the world
at the time of sacrifice; for every righteous man who may wish to receive
him Christ has come not by subtlety, but openly to everybody who sees and is
standing by him'. Note vgy setha for vgy ow setha, dowla for dewla, canevar
den not pub den, pubonen, kenever for pubonen and bus for 'but'.

SA exhibits loss of i-affection in the pres-fut. me a laver the gee 'I tell
you' SA 62

SA also exhibits pecar for kepar;

gosowes for goslowes: Gosoweth pan drvge S. Ambros ow leverall SA 62a

and gwiel for gul.



Pre-occlusion is first attested in BM and Borde (both 16th century).

levar for lyver 'book' is first attested in PA (fifteenth century) and
teller 'place' also in PA, where it is the normal form.

genama 'with me' occurs in PA

danon for danvon occurs in PA: Thy gour hy a zanonas 'She sent to her
husband' PA 123a (usually 'emended' to danvonas). 

dowthek 'twelve' with ow for ew is first attested in PA and clowes 'to hear'
in BM.

for for forth 'way' is attested in the Ordinalia

forms like gansans 'with them' and thethans, thothans first occur in TH (ca

the suffixed object pronoun is first recorded in PA: arluth prag y hysta vy
'Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?' 

yrth 'snow' is found in TH

the present stem gor- 'to know' (e.g. gorama 'I know') is first attested in
TH: ny woryn pyscotter 'we don't know how soon'.



There is no need to continue.


It is clear from the texts, that Middle Cornish and Late Cornish are not
different languages. There was, I believe, no reason to spell them in two
separate ways.





On 14 Nov 2013, at 10:26, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

I'm happy to say that, from the point of view of historicity, much more
sense is being applied to that subject than would have the case 5 or 6 years
ago, and my presence on the Panel, armed with my own researches, is proving
to be worthwhile. 


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