[Spellyans] some geographical names in the SWF dictionary

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 13:49:43 BST 2018

The SWF dictionary gives Romani Romania, Bulgari Bulgaria, Hungari Hungari, Russi Russia. None of these names is attested in traditional Cornish, rather they have been devised by analogy with Lyby Libya, Itury Ituria and Syry Syria in BK. The forms in BK are Middle English names derived from their French equivalents Lybie, Iturie and Syrie. The SWF dictionary also gives Poloni for Poland. There is, however, no French name *Polonie. Poland in French is Pologne. Poloni is a solecism and should perhaps be replaced with Poloyn; cf. Almayn Germany in RD and Borgayn Burgundy in BK (Borgoyne in Middle English). Similarly the dictionary’s Kataloni is questionable. The French for Catalonia is Catalogne. This should perhaps appear in Cornish as Kataloyn.

Russi for Russia is also questionable. Dacia is called Das in BK 1438. Rus might therefore be preferable. Russie is the current French name, but Middle English said Rus; cf. Chaucer’s In Lettow had he reysed and in Rus. Though it should be mentioned that Russya was the usual form in UC, e.g. in Bennetto’s An Gurun Wosek a Geltya (1983).

The dictionary also suggest Makedoni for Macedonia. This is highly suspect. As noted, names of countries ending in Cornish in -i are derived from French and Middle English names. In which case to retain k in this word rather than use c is ahistorical, since in French and Middle English alike have medial [s]. Furthermore the Middle English for Macedonia was Macedone which is the same as modern French Macédoine. The Cornish name for Macedonia should perhaps be Macedoyn. Makedoni cannot be recomended.

The SWF dictionary gives China for China. China has been called Cathay in Cornish for a long time; see Kemysk Kernewek 1964, ff 14, 15. Cathay is still known in English: Cathay Pacific, and ‘Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay’ Tennyson, Locksley Hall. Cathay/Kathay should at least be an allowed alternative.

The dictionary gives Ostrali as the Cornish for Australia. In his full-length Cornish novel Dyvroans (1998), which deals with emigration to Australia, the late Michael Palmer calls Australia Australya throughout. 


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