[Spellyans] Falmouth

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Mon Apr 28 12:40:58 BST 2014

It isn't, Nicholas.  None of the currently use Aber- names are.   They date only from the revival, probably in the 50s (definitely within Nance's era).  Aber- although found in Scotland, Wales and Brittany, is not found as a Cornish place-name element, and is only listed in the OCV, with meanings such as "gulf, whirlpool, confluence", but NOT "estuary, river-mouth".

However, the Signage Panel agreed that <Arwennek> was more historically valid, but wanted to continue using <Aberfal> which they felt to be well established after half a century or more of use.  I did get them to slightly amend this to <Aberfala>, to be more representative of the river-name's historic forms.  They agreed to that.


Note:  The town of Falmouth did not exist before the mid 17th century, just a couple of small scattered settlements/farms such as Smithick (Eng. name).  Earlier references to "Falmouth" only described the haven.  It was Sir Peter Killigrew of Arwenack Manor who sought and gained (in 1661) a Charter from Charles II to develop the town, which was largely built on Arwenack estate lands.   That the town had the name of "Pennycomequick", supposedly derived fromCornish, is a rather absurd myth.  Frequent claims that was "pen-y-cwm (Welsh spelling?)-gwyk" are not viable.  Cornish place-names are not constructed in that manner, not does it make much sense in translation.   It was, in fact, a very briefly used English nickname for a then flourishing port where you could make your fortune (or, at least a decent living) quite readily for a while.

On 2014 Ebr 28, at 11:33, Nicholas Williams wrote:

> I was listening a Cornish broadcast recently and heard the placename Aberfala for Falmouth. 
> This isn't attested in traditional Cornish as far as one can see. 
> The attested names are 
> 1 Falmeth (rag ma dro da deux mill Hosket whath in Falmeth, Oliver Pender to William Gwavas, August 1711) or
> 2 Arwennak/Arwednak (an enys hag arwennek OM 2592; Ha an Castel Broas es en or Widnack; James Harry 1705). 
> Compare Arwennack Street in Falmouth itself. 
> My preference is for Arwennak/Arwednak.
> Where does Aberfala originate?  According to Padel there is no evidence that the element aber 'estuary, river mouth' was ever attested in Cornish.
> Nicholas
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