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Edward Lhuyd's Researches into the Cornish Language

Mills, Jon Edward Lhuyd's Researches into the Cornish Language. In: Henry Sweet Society Colloquium, 20-23 September 2000, University of Edinburgh. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:8388)

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The Celtic philologist, Edward Lhuyd (1660 - 1709) was possibly the first qualified scholar to make a serious study of the Cornish language. In fact he spent four months in Cornwall, in 1700, learning Cornish. Lhuyd had originally intended to include a Cornish-English vocabulary in his Archaeologia Britannica. However, since the book turned out to be longer than he had expected, he postponed the publication of his Cornish vocabulary, Geirlyfr Kyrnweig, until the second volume. Unfortunately this second volume never appeared, due to Lhuyd's tragic death at the Ashmolean Museum in 1709. Nevertheless Volume I of Archaeologia Britannica contains "A Comparative Etymology" and "A Comparative Vocabulary of the Original Languages of Britain and Ireland". The "Comparative Etymology" includes "Parallel Observations relating to the Origin of Dialects, the Affinity of the British with other Languages, and their Correspondence to one another." In the "Comparative Etymology" Lhuyd notes the semantic differences between cognates of the various Celtic languages. An important feature of Lhuyd's work is his orthography. He devised his own phonetic script, based on an extended Latin alphabet and use of diacritics. After his death, Lhuyd's manuscripts disappeared. Several years later, however, his Geirlyfr Kyrnweig was discovered in the National Library of Wales. This consists of a small notebook, presumably the one he used during his stay in Cornwall. According to Lhuyd, he obtained most of his knowledge of Cornish from manuscripts of the dramas, provided by Sir Jonathan Trelawny, Bishop of Exeter. The Vocabularium Cornicum, identified by Lhuyd as Cornish, provided him with another source; and words taken from the Vocabularium Cornicum are marked with a dagger symbol. A third source were his field notes made during his stay in Cornwall.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World
P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Francis Mills
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 14:43 UTC
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 13:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Mills, Jon.

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