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Cornish Toponymy from the 17th Century to the Present Day

Mills, Jon (2016) Cornish Toponymy from the 17th Century to the Present Day. In: Annual Colloquium of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic ideas 13-15 September 2016, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, 13-15 September 2016, Cambridge. (Unpublished)

Other ("Cornish Toponymy from the 17th Century to the Present Day" Paper presented at the Annual Colloquium of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic ideas 13-15 September 2016, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, Sep 15, 2016)
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As soon as one crosses the River Tamar and enters Cornwall the place names change. English place names ending in –ton become few and in their place one observes a preponderance of Celtic Cornish place names beginning Tre-. Scattered throughout his Survey of Cornwall, Carew (1602) gives various, frequently naïve, interpretations of Cornish place names. From the eighteenth century onwards a steady stream of onomastic glossaries are published. The glossaries of Gwavas (1710), Borlase (1749), Pryce (1790), and Polwhele (1860) are mainly concerned with the etymological meaning of Cornish place names for the curious. Assonance forms basis of the etymologies in these glossaries and explanations of the meanings of place names are consequently not merely conjectural but frequently fanciful. In 1871, Bannister published his Glossary of Cornish Names, containing approximately 20,000 place names. A succession of Cornish place name dictionaries for popular consumption followed in the 20th century. A more serious study of Cornish toponymy is Padel’s (1985) Cornish Place-Name Elements, a dictionary of the elements that constitute Cornish place names. It is during the 20th century that dictionaries of Cornish place names start to use standardised Cornish spellings. This led to problems. The Cornish language community were keen to see road signs with modern standardised spellings for place names alongside their current existing spellings. However, since place name etymologies are largely conjectural, much argument arose regarding precisely how Cornish place names should be respelled for the purposes of signage. This dispute continues to the present day. Works cited Bannister, J. (1871). A glossary of Cornish names, ancient and modern, local, family, personal, etc.: 20,000 Celtic and other names, now or formerly in use in Cornwall: with derivations and significations and lists of unexplained names about which information is solicited. London: Williams & Norgate. Borlase, William (1749), Mems. Of the Cornish Tongue MSS DDEN 2000, Cornwall Record Office. Carew, Richard, 1602. The Survey of Cornwall. London: S. S[tafford] for Iohn Iaggard. Facsimile edition, edited by John Chynoweth, Nicholas Orme & Alexandra Walsham, 2004. Exeter: Devon and Cornwall Record Society. Gwavas, William (1710), Common-Place Book MS. Royal Institution of Cornwall. Padel, O. J. (1985). Cornish Place-Name Elements, 2 vols., in 1. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society (EPNS vol. 56/57). Polwhele, Richard (1810) The History of Cornwall London: Law and Whittaker. Pryce, W. (1790). Archaeologia Cornu-Britannica Or An Essay to Preserve the Ancient Cornish Language, Containing the Rudiments of that Dialect in a Cornish Grammar and Cornish-English Vocabulary Sherborne: The Author.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: toponymy, Cornish language, Kernewek, lexicology, linguistics, onomastics
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > Centre for English and World Languages
Depositing User: Jon Mills
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 14:19 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:52 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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