Friday, 8 May 2015

Learn Late Cornish Bit by Bit 73 (A Bit About Spelling)

A Bit About Spelling

You will be aware of some of the arguments around orthography! For many words it doesn’t matter, because there is no way they can be confused with any other word. e.g. Today hedhyw  has/had a number of other spellings (and pronunciations) – hethow, hithou, hidhu.
However, there are many cases where you need to be more careful with your spelling, or you could convey the wrong meaning, e.g. We have been using hager (SWF spelling) to mean ugly, stormy, evil and other horrible descriptions., hagar (RLC spelling) means the same, so, in this example, varying the final unstressed vowel makes no difference – the pronunciation is schwa anyway. But if you change the first, stressed, vowel you get an opposite meaning:

hegar                                                 lovely, amiable, all things nice, etc.

Tho Cinderella hegar, bes thera diw hager whor dhedhy.
Cinderella was lovely/amiable, but she had two ugly/horrible sisters.

Here are some other words where minor changes alter meaning (and pronunciation). Words ending with one consonant are pronounced with a long vowel, while words ending with two consonants have a shorter vowel:

bal (m) (balyow)                               a mine, dig, excavation
an bal                                                the mine
ball (f)                                               a plague, nuisance
an vall na                                          that nuisance
an Vall                                               the Bubonic Plague
bell[1]                                                war, warfare, bell
pel (f)                                                 a ball
an bel                                                the ball
pal[2]                                                 a spade, shovel
palas                                                 to dig, to excavate
jynn palas                                         a (mechanical) digger
pales                                                  a fish/ice/salt cellar, “palace”
pil                                                       a pile
pyll/pill                                               a creek[3], deep pool
poll                                                     a pool, creek,  top end, pit, etc.
pols                                                    a short time, a moment
pollen düs                                          a swimming pool(for people)

Here are some more place names:

Baldhu                                                black/dark mine-workings
Poldew (Poldu 1446)                          dark pool
Polgooth (Polgoyth 1500)                  goose pool
Polstain (Polstene 1522)                    tin pit
Penpoll                                               head of a creek

[1] preferred words for war are bresel and cas
[2] pal can also mean fence, fencing, palings, etc.
[3]  so Pill Creek near Falmouth is a bit repetitive! “Tautology”.

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