English-Cornish Dictionary -- Reviews
The following are Nicholas Williams' responses to an anonymous writer's "mini-review".
The following factual corrections would be in order:
- So we now have the Cornish for "Osmium:(osmyum),and the rest of the elements,and other information such as the books of the bible,which tend to bloat the dictionary.
The 48 pages of back-matter (9% of the dictionary's 525 pages) can hardly be said to "bloat" the dictionary.
- I understand Williams is computerphobic.
You have been misinformed.
- There is no indication what words are traditional.
Exactly, this is deliberate policy: "Notice that no attempt has been made in the present work to indicate the source of any particular item." page xxii.
- what words were coined by Williams, by what authority are the new words coined [?].
The answer is on page xxiii: "This is very much a pioneering work and some, perhaps much, of the new vocabulary presented below will not find favour with Cornish speakers. This is only to be expected and I would very much like to hear from any user of this dictionary who has alternative suggestions." Over to you, Mr Reeves.
- Who will understand this: ef a dhue dhe Kerlyr avorow [?].
Kerlyr is transliterated from Welsh Caerlyr 'Leicester'. Nobody will understand where Kerlyr is until he learns the name and its English equivalent, but that is as true of Kembra, Breten Vyan, Loundres, Wordhen and Keresk which are all traditional.
- why Dublin which is English and not "Baile Atha Cliath" [?]
Dublin is Irish < Duibhlinn 'the Black Pool' the site of the settlement between the Poddle river and the Liffey. Baile Átha Cliath 'the settlement of the Ford of the Wattles' is an area to the west of Duibhlinn. We do not call Dublin Dublin in the dictionary. We use the form Dulyn. This is taken without any change from Welsh Dulyn 'Dublin', a name that is attested in Welsh from the early Middle Ages. Notice also the Breton Dulenn 'Dublin'. It would have been perverse for us to call Dublin Baile Átha Cliath while our Brythonic cousins were calling it Dulyn and Dulenn respectively.
- why "Kebek" [?] no one uses that except maybe the Slavic Langauges [sic].
The Breton for Quebec is Kebek. It is probable that in UCR we should in fact spell it Kebeck.
- If you are going to change "New York" to "Evrok Neweth" why not change "Los Angeles" to "An Elow" (The Angels).
First, New York in Cornish is Evrok Noweth, not Evrok *Neweth. Secondly, our dictionary did not invent the name Evrok Noweth. It has been used in Cornish since the beginning of the revival. Let me quote: "Dhe Dr. Mish, Evrok Noweth, Statys Unys America", Kemysk Kernewek: A Cornish Miscellany (Cambron 1964) page 43 citing a letter of Caradar's written in March 1950. Evrok Noweth is, of course, based on the Welsh form Efrog Newydd. We Cornicize New York because we Cornicize York. And we Cornicize York as Evrok both because the Welsh do, and because it is a Brythonic name to start with. York is from British *Eburakon, Latin Eburacum 'Place of Yews'. We do not Cornicize Los Angeles because there is no comparable name in the British Isles of Celtic origin.
Would it, incidentally, be churlish to point out that the plural of el 'angel' is eleth, not *elow? Here are a few examples from the Cornish texts: eleth PA 18d; an elath SA 59; elath nanyle arthelath SA 60a; naw order elath CW 27; elathe oll CW 139.
- Queensland in Australia becomes "Tyreth an Vyternes" who is going to understand that!
Both the word tyreth 'land, region' and myternes 'queen' occur in Beunans Meriasek (at BM 2212 and BM 154, 3134 respectively), so the expression Tyreth an Vyternes is good Cornish. Because there are so many people of Cornish origin in Australia, Australia figures widely in revived Cornish writing. One finds commonly such translations as Carrek Ayres 'Ayres Rock' and Conteth Vyctorya 'Victoria'. Tyreth an Vyternes is no more inauthentic than those. If someone knowing Cornish fairly well comes across Tyr an Vyternes in a text about Australia he will realize fairly quickly that Queensland is being discussed. If Tyreth an Vyternes is unacceptable, then I suppose Mordir Nowydh 'New Zealand' is unacceptable as well, yet Mordir Nowydh is one of the few toponyms in George's Gerlyver Kres. (In our dictionary we prefer Selond Noweth.)
The Cornicization of place-names is as old as Cornish itself. The Holy Land is called an Tyr Sans in Origo Mundi, Nicholas Boson calls Devon Pow Densher and Lhuyd uses Euhal-dyr an Alban for the Highlands of Scotland. Nance's 1951 dictionary gives, inter alia, Yseldyryow and Pow Ysel for the Netherlands. Gendall, who is conservative in his approach, gives, among others in his most recent dictionary, Cheany 'China' (elswhere Cathay), Dinedin 'Edinburgh', Lollas 'West Indies', Pow an Danow 'Denmark', etc.
Perhaps future reviewers would like concentrate on the body of the dictionary, where criticisms and comments would be very welcome.
Back to the main reviews page.