Henry Jenner’s Handbook of the Cornish Language (2010)

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of Henry Jenner’s Handbook of the Cornish Language.

From the preface:
This new edition of Jenner’s classic Handbook of the Cornish Language appears more than a century after the book’s first publication. Now that the Cornish Revival has weathered many storms, it is well worth making Jenner’s ground-breaking work available again, copies of the 1904 edition having become rare and expensive.

A useful way to have another look at Jenner’s place in the Revival is to compare the contents of the 1904 Handbook with the three articles Jenner published between 1873 and 1877, near the begin­ning of his researches into Cornish. These articles are reproduced below as appendices to the main text. The orthographic system which Jenner used in 1904 was the culmination of many years of work, but it is important to notice that Jenner was aware three decades earlier of Alexander Melville Bell’s 1865 “Visible Speech”, and of Alexander John Ellis’ 1867 “Palæotype” and 1871 “Glossic”. Jenner’s familiarity with these pre­cursors of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is significant. It shows him to have had real phonetic training. It places his work in the context of modern linguistics.

And linguist is certainly the word which one must apply to Jenner.  His achievement was truly remarkable. Synthesizing the texts, the description in Edward Lhuyd’s 1707 Archaeologia Britannica, Edwin Norris’ 1859 Sketch of Cornish Grammar, Robert Williams’ 1865 Lexicon Cornu-Britannicum, and Frederick Jago’s 1882 English-Cornish Dictionary, Jenner sorted it all out: he devised a system which was practical enough to use to begin to revive the language. He uses an orthography that supports Late Cornish while still retaining a connection to the orthographic forms of the Middle Cornish scribal tradition. Jenner’s Cornish looks Cornish. I wager that the scribes of Glasney could have read it, and that Jordan and Tregear and the author of Bewnans Ke would likewise have found it to be familiar. And his spelling partakes of tota Cornicitas: it can write Middle and Late Cornish without linguistic compromise.

Jenner’s orthography provides a good, clear relationship between sound and spelling without diverging drastically from that of the traditional texts. He used diacritical marks for precision where necessary. His phonology is for the most part sound; he recognized the earlier phonemes /y/ and /ø/ by the way they had unrounded to /i/ and /e/ in Late Cornish. He endeavoured to describe the reduction of unstressed syllables to schwa using the symbols ŏ and ŭ. His section on grammar is wide-ranging and largely reliable. Jenner appears to regard the differences between Middle Cornish and Late Cornish as being more apparent than real; his work is generally free of the unwarranted purism of some later Revivalists. Of particular interest is his belief that it was undesirable to try to reconstruct a “foreign” accent based on “scientific affectation”. He recognized that the contact between Cornish and English must have led to similarities in phonology, and held that the sound and intonation of the English spoken in Cornwall should have a proper and positive influence on the pronunciation of Revived Cornish.

This re-edition is not a mere facsimile. I have added phonetic transcriptions in the IPA, to assist the modern reader in under­standing exactly which sounds Jenner was recommending. (Two characters used here, [ᵻ] and [ᵿ], are not used in the IPA proper; the Oxford English Dictionary uses them for reduced [ɪ] (schwi) and reduced [ʊ] (schwu). See Note 31 on page 52.) Jenner’s Cornish spellings have been kept as he wrote them, except where a typographical error or omission had rendered his intention obscure. Breton spellings, however, have been updated to modern orthography.

The book being newly typeset has benefited from some changes for the modern reader. Chapter headings and subsections within chapters have been numbered as sections for ease of citation. It will be seen that some of the numbers are rather long, but in fact they do reflect the complex net of nested, numbered, and lettered para­graphs with which Jenner structured his work. Biblical references use European digits rather than Roman, and standard references (“Matthew 2:1–20” rather than “St Matthew ii. 1–20”). Hypo­thetical forms are prefixed with an *asterisk as is now standard practice. Editorial comments of my own are given in {curly brackets}.

From time to time one encounters negative assessments by modern readers who have criticized Jenner for some of his social comments. It is true: today’s reader will find some of Jenner’s remarks to be what we now consider to be politically incorrect, indeed rather embarrassing. It must be remembered that the book was published at a time when such ideas were commonplace. This does not make them accurate or admirable; it is a reason, not an excuse. The most extreme of such comments have been moved to footnotes—where they can be safely ignored by the reader whose interests are merely linguistic.

I would like to give my thanks to Mary Beazley for encouraging me so wholeheartedly to re-publish the work of her Uncle Harry. I am most grateful to my colleagues Eddie Climo, Owen Cook, Thomas Leigh, Christian Semmens, Craig Weatherhill, and Nicholas Williams for their proof­reading, and for many useful comments on Jenner’s text and on my editorial additions. The responsibility for any lurking typographical or interpretative errors remains mine.


What thou wilt: Traditional and Innovative trends in Post-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of Jon Hanna's trenchant look into the sociology of modern witchcraft, What thou wilt: Traditional and Innovative trends in Post-Gardnerian Witchcraft.

From the back cover:

The publication from 1954 of Gerald Gardner’s non-fiction works on witchcraft has led to the current public existence of two different trends of religious and magical belief and practice, both which identify themselves as Wicca. One form places a strong emphasis upon the transmission of traditional practices and a form of initiatory lineage similar to that practised by Gardner himself. The other covers a wider range of views on each of these aspects, but with the most common position being a strong distance between the traditional practices—giving a greater importance to innovation—and a complete or near-complete abandon ment of the concept of initiatory lineage.

Both trends often see themselves and each other as being within a wider religio-magical stream of Post-Gardnerian Pagan Witchcraft of which the innovative form is a larger part, though in different ways. The traditional view of the innovative form typically labels that form Eclectic even in cases where the practitioners would understand Eclectic differently, and considers it to be something outside of what it terms Wicca. The innovative form generally labels all Post-Gardnerian Pagan Witchcraft, or beyond, as Wicca, and as such recognizes all traditional practitioners as Wiccan but does not generally make more signi fi cant distinctions between the various schools.

The traditional stream considers the differences between the two streams as significant to the point of typicality while the innovative stream considers the differences as much less important. This book examines the differences and offers insights into both.


The Cult of Relics: Devocyon an Greryow

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a bilingual novel, written in English by Alan M. Kent and faced with a Cornish translation by Nicholas Williams: The Cult of Relics: Devocyon an Greryow.

From the back cover:

The Cult of Relics is a new novel by Alan M. Kent (author of Proper Job, Charlie Curnow! and Electric Pastyland), presented in a bilingual format, with a Cornish-language translation, Devocyon dhe Greryow, by Nicholas Williams. The story is set in Western Britain in the mid-1990s just after the Gulf War, and tells of three extraordinary people: of the New-Age Traveller Jude Fox, of the American photojournalist Eddie Hopkins, and of the Cornish-born archaeologist Robert Bolitho. The three characters discover a set of connections between them, stretching back to the early seventeenth century. Kent’s intriguing story weaves together their disparate lives with that of the mysterious “Stranger”, whose preservation of a curious holy relic becomes a focus for their collective need for communion and hope.

The Cult of Relics yw novel nowyth dhyworth Alan M. Kent (auctour a Proper Job, Charlie Curnow! hag a Electric Pastyland), hag yma va dyllys gans trailyans Kernowek Nicholas Williams, Devoycyon dhe Greryow. An whedhel-ma a gebmer le i’n West a Vreten Veur in cres an bledhydnyow mil, naw cans, peswar ugans ha deg, termyn cot warlergh Bresel an Morbleg. Yth eson ny ow metya ino gans try ferson, meur a les: Jûd Fox, Viajyores a’n Oos Nowyth; Eddie Hopkins, an fôtojornalyst Amerycan; ha’n hendhyscansyth dhia Gernow, Robert Bolitho. Ymowns y aga thry ow dyscudha bos kescolm intredhans dhyworth bledhydnyow avarr an seytegves cansvledhen. I’n whedhel hudol-ma yma Kent ow qwia warbarth bêwnans kenyver onen anodhans gans an “Stranjer” kevrînek. Crer sans ha stranj re beu gwethys ganso ev, ha’n dra-na yw an crespoynt a’n othem a’n jeves kettep onen a gowethyans ha govenek.


The Hunting of the Snark

The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll's magnificent 1890 nonsense poem, is now available from Evertype.

From the Foreword:

The Hunting of the Snark was first published in 1876, eleven years after Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and four years after Through the Looking-Glass. It is a master piece of nonsense and is connected to Through the Looking-Glass by its use of vocabulary from the poem “Jabberwocky”.

The Hunting of the Snark is a strangely dark poem, and some critics believe that its themes—insanity and death—are rather too adult in nature for children’s literature. We know, nonetheless, that Lewis Carroll intended the poem to be enjoyed by children: he dedicated the book in acrostic verse to his young friend Gertrude Chataway, and signed some 80 presentation copies to other young readers. Many of those inscriptions were in the form of an acrostic based upon the name of the child to whom the book was presented.

Part of the pleasure of reading this book is in the inevitable musing about what it means. Its author, often asked to explain his work, invariably replies that he does not know. In his splendid book The Annotated Hunting of the Snark, Martin Gardner cites several such replies by Carroll:

  • For all such questions I have but one answer: “I don’t know!”

  • Of course you know what a Snark is? If you do, please tell me: for I haven’t an idea what it is like.

  • “Why don’t you explain the Snark?” … Let me answer it now—“because I ca’n’t.” Are you able to explain things which you don’t yourself understand?

  • As to the meaning of the Snark? I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense!

  • I was walking on a hillside, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse—one solitary line—“For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means, now; but I wrote it down: and, sometime afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza.

Well… the author has told us more than thrice. So it must be true. It is therefore open to readers of the poem to decide the question for themselves…