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Alice’s Ventures in Wunderland
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Cornu-English

Alice’s Adventures in an Appalachian Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll, translated into Cornu-English by Alan M. Kent

First edition, 2015. Illustrations by John Tenniel. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-102-6 (paperback), price: €12.95, £10.95, $15.95.

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“In tha direction,”the Cat said, wavin of uts right paw round, “d’live a Atter, an in tha direction,” wavin the other paw, lives a March Are. Visit either you d’like: they’m both mazed.”   “In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I dun’t want t’go among mazed people,” Alice remarked.   “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you ken’t help tha,” said the Cat: “we’m all proper mazed ere. I’m mazed. You’m mazed.”   “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do ee knaw tha I’m mazed?” said Alice.   “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you would’n ave comed ere.”   “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”
Cat Clárach
Cornu-English is that form of English spoken by the majority of native residents in Cornwall. It has also spread overseas to be spoken in areas of the world where Cornish migrants lived and worked-in such diverse locations as Australia, the United States of America, New Zealand, Mexico and South Africa. It may be said to be one of three major linguistic groups operating within Cornwall, a Celtic territory in the west of the island of the Britain. The three are Cornish, English and Cornu-English. Within Cornu-English, it is necessary to point out that although the broad vocabulary and grammar remain the same there are some variations in accent. These can be graded from east to west, and from north to south. In general, the accent in the west of Cornwall (in West Penwith, in particular) has remained quite distinctive, with some observers believing this is because of the later persistence of the Cornish language there. This edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is translated with a nod towards the Cornu-English accent of mid Cornwall; in particular that found in the working-class china-clay mining villages to the north of St Austell. This accent and locate remain interesting because for many years there were perceived as not being as picturesque as others parts of Cornwall, and so received less immigration and loss of Cornu-English speakers.

On Dialect Orthography

Publishing text in an unstandardized orthography is a challenge. A balance must be found between faithful­ness to the sounds of the dialect and legibility to an audience who reads the standard language. English dialect spellings are nothing new, of course: from Robert Louis Stevenson’s representation of Scots in Kidnapped to Mark Twain’s repre­sentation of Missouri dialect in his Adventures of Huckle­berry Finn various approaches have been taken. Often these approaches make use of what is known as “the apologetic apostrophe” to mark letters from the standard language which have been “dropped”.

Such spellings tend to create a distracting visual clutter; this was recognized in the 1947 Scots Style Sheet and the 1985 Recommendations for Writers in Scots, both of which discourage the apologetic apostrophe while retaining it for ordinary purposes. Many of these recommendations apply easily to the linguistic features of Cornu-English, and have been followed in the text used in this book.

Since the reader may appreciate a summary of the ortho­graphic conventions used here for the Cornish dialect, a list is given below.

  • Words ending in -ing have been spelled as -in; participles in -en have been retained: writin ‘writing’, written ‘written’; words derived from -thing have been spelled -un: nothun ‘nothing’.
  • The final apostrophe is not used: an ‘and’ is used instead of an’; um ‘them’ is used instead of ’em; o ‘of’ is used instead of o’.
  • Before a vowel o is written of: one of um ‘one of them’.
  • The reduced vowels in do, to, and so are written as d’, t’, s’; before a vowel the word is often written to, as in Alice started to er feet.
  • The words he, his, him, her, it, its, it’s, and them are written e, is, im (though the old Anglo-Saxon accusative un is quite common), er, ut, uts, ut’s, and um. Initial h- is also dropped in the verb ave ‘have’ and its derivatives. Note the distinction made between e ‘he’ and ee ‘you’.
  • The words if, is, and yes are written ef, es, and ess.
  • Initial syllables of other kinds when dropped are simply dropped: I spect ‘I expect’.
  • Medial letters when dropped are not indicated with the “apologetic apostrophe”: lil ‘little’ (not li’l).
  • Standard English intervocalic [t] is voiced in many words, and is so written: liddle ‘little’.
  • Final -st is often pronounced -ss, orthographic -st is still written for clarity: last [læs], most [moʊs].
  • Although pronounced [ænd], the word hand is written with initial h- for clarity.
  • Contractions of the negative particle are treated in two ways. In monosyllables which end in a glottal stop, n’t is written: en’t [ɛnʔ] ‘ain’t’, ken’t [kɛnʔ] ‘ca’n’t’, don’t [doʊnʔ], won’t [woʊnʔ]; in polysyllables the syllabic nasal is written ’n: ad’n [ædn̩] ‘hadn’t’, did’n [dɪdn̩] ‘didn’t’, id’n [ɪdn̩] ‘isn’t’, wad’n [wʌdn̩] ‘wasn’t’, could’n [kʊdn̩], should’n [ʃʊdn̩], would’n [wʊdn̩]; it is sometimes assimilated homorganically: eb’m [ɛbm̩] ‘haven’t’.
  • The participial a- is prefixed with a hyphen to some gerunds: a-bedolin ‘stupifying’.
  • The unique sound [æː], well-known in the Cornish language but rare in English, is written aa: faace ‘face’ (Cornish fâss), plaace ‘place’ (Cornish plâss).
The intent here was to normalize towards a literary ortho­graphy, rather than towards a phonemic respelling of the language entirely; such a respelling would doubtless be filled with unnecessary “eye-dialect” (funkshun instead of function, and so forth). I would be interested to receive comment from readers regarding the suitability of this orthography for representing Cornish dialect. Inevitably in such a venture there will be inconsistencies, of course. I trust these will not distract readers from their enjoyment of Alan’s splendid translation.

Michael Everson
Westport, 5 March 2015

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2015-04-15

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