Does the presence of patronymic surnames (surnames derived from first names) tell us anything about the last days of the traditional Cornish language? I have argued elsewhere that the distribution of the most common surnames in nineteenth century Cornwall – Williams, Thomas and Richards – offers a good indication of the geography of the language … Continue reading Patronyms and the Cornish language
Nance Let's continue the Arthurian theme from the last blog, which included a map of the early distribution of the surname Arthur. The warrior-king Arthur, who left his imprint in the landscape from Brittany to Scotland, was given a restored role by the Cornish revivalists of the early 1900s. It seems an appropriate time of … Continue reading Where’s Arthur when we need him?
Or at least a version of Brittonic Celtic, the language that was spoken, along with Latin, when the Romans left Britain in the early 400s. Within a relatively short time the whole of what became England, or at least its southern part, was speaking English. We know this because the number of Celtic placenames in … Continue reading Why don’t the English speak Cornish?
For a lot of us the debate over the proper base for the revived Cornish language is about as relevant as medieval theologians arguing over the number of angels that can stand on the head of a pin. Nonetheless, the Cornish language, revived or not, is of considerable symbolic importance for Cornwall and its identity … Continue reading Has the Standard Written Form of Cornish failed?
We'll get around to dreckly dreckly. But first, a week or two ago the online dating site eharmony was reported as having completed a survey of accents to see which were the most ‘attractive’. The ‘Cornish accent’ came in 20th out of 20! Obviously, such ‘research’ probably tells us more about the stereotypes of the … Continue reading Reflections on dreckly
On this day in 1848 Henry Jenner was born at St Columb. Jenner played a key role in the Cornish ‘revival’ that began in the 1870s and has long been regarded as the patriarch of Cornish revivalism. However, he wasn’t brought up in Cornwall, having been taken with his family to Essex and then Kent … Continue reading Henry Jenner
A research article by Siarl Ferdinand published online last year provides some intriguing results of a survey into attitudes towards the revived Cornish language. The good news for the revivalists is that there was a broadly positive view of Cornish, with a majority of respondents declaring it was either ‘interesting’ or not being bothered either … Continue reading Love it or hate it? Attitudes towards the revived Cornish language
Early June is usually taken to be the anniversary of the time in 1549 when the Prayer Book rising began. According to the Government indictment of its leaders, a thousand men gathered on June 6th at Bodmin to protest against the new English Prayer Book to be used in church services. This predated the rising … Continue reading The 1549 rising: the revised chronology
In 1836 the Penny Magazine published a long article on Cornwall, its occupations, housing and diet. Here’s an extract which includes some comments on the local dialect. It is still usual to call elderly persons ‘uncle’ and ‘aunt’, and the ‘good night’ is commonly given in passing. The use of nicknames is very prevalent. These … Continue reading Observations on the Cornish dialect in 1836
Another iconic Cornish festival day. Another sad silence. Although traditional furry dances were held in several places across Cornwall within living memory – I remember participating at Liskeard – Helston is now regarded as the home of the furry. The event shares some aspects with Padstow’s ‘Obby ‘Oss - the celebration of spring, traditional songs, … Continue reading Helston’s Furry Day and Hal-an-Tow