[Spellyans] Cat's cradle

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sun Jul 24 11:53:11 BST 2016

Cat’s cradle means two rather different things:

1. a game played with string on the fingers. see http://www.ifyoulovetoread.com/book/chten_cats1105.htm
2. by extension a hopeless tangle. 

Gwary corden or possibly gwary besîas ha corden would be fine for the first. 
For ‘hopeless tangle’ there are several possibilities. Geiriadur yr Academi for this second sense
suggests cymhlethdod ‘complexity’, dryswch ‘tangle’ or tryblith ‘chaos, muddle’.

In my English-Cornish dictionary I translate Oh, what tangled webs we weave / when first we
practise to deceive! (from Scott’s Marmion) as ass yw maglys cam an wŷ / a wra an gowek gans y lŷ!

The word gwy ‘tissue, web’ is not attested in Cornish but guiat ‘tela’ is attested in OCV. 
The word magly (< Welsh maglu) is cited in Nance’s 1938 dictionary with the meaning ‘trap, entangle’. 
One might therefore say gwias maglys (UC gwyas maglys) ‘entangled web’ for the metaphorical sense of
cat’s cradle. 

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