Perran.....Piran?

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Carbilly
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Post by Carbilly » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:24 pm

When did this change first happen? Why, after being brought up with Perran for years, and as a place name element (Perranporth, Perran ar worthal etc..), did someone decide to change it to Piran? What was wrong with the original spelling, surely thats correct - at least phonetically?

I get tired of hearing our patron saints name mutated to ''Pier-an'',(to rhyme with Kieran.) Any thoughts? Marhak?:???:

Palores
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Post by Palores » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:23 pm

Carbilly said:
When did this change first happen? Why, after being brought up with Perran for years, and as a place name element (Perranporth, Perran ar worthal etc..), did someone decide to change it to Piran? What was wrong with the original spelling, surely thats correct - at least phonetically?
I get tired of hearing our patron saints name mutated to ''Pier-an'',(to rhyme with Kieran.) Any thoughts? Marhak?:???:


There are two changes here: that of single r to double r, which occurred in the 2nd half of the 16th century;
and the lowering of the stressed vowel to e, which may have occurred earlier.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:23 pm

Peran is far and away the commonest spelling of the saint's name in place-names.  I always write Golperan for St Piran's Day.
At Perranzabuloe, Lanpiran 1086 becomes Lanberan by 1281, and Peran is found from then right through to the 18th century, while there is the occasional Pieran and Piran enroute.  -rr- appears once in 1433, then not seen again until the 17th century.
Perranuthnoe Pyeran(us), and Pieran are found 7 times from 1311-1507.  Peran(us) and Peryn (just one of these) 10 times from 1400-1745.  Piran not seen until c.1690, and the only once.
Perranarworthal: Peran 5 times c.1260- 1612; Pieran(us) 3 times 1388-1500; Perran twice 1584, 1656; Piran once c.1720.
Hope that helps.

Carbilly
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Post by Carbilly » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:13 pm

Thanks for that info, most interesting, but it still doesn't resolve the fundamental question. Is the CORRECT pronunciation PIER-an, which sounds wrong to me, or PERRan, which is what I've always been brought up with - or have I been wrong all these years?

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:12 am

I've even heard 'PIE-ran'!  No, you've been right all these years,Carbilly.  I think the Pieran spelling reflects the former belief that the saint was the Irish St Ciaran (and C/K/Q in Gaelic = P in British Celtic, hence Q-Celtic and P-Celtic).  It's now thought that Peran was British and possibly Dumnonian.  The 'Piran' spelling is pronounced with the I like that in 'pin'.

Karesk
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Post by Karesk » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:52 pm

The first record is in a charter of King Edgar granting land at Tywarnhayle to someone called Eanulf (not necessarily English - some Cornish people had started using English names at this time) in A.D.960. The charter gives the boundary of the land in Old English but with some Cornish words and names, including Carn Peran.


There is also an earlier 10th century list of names of Cornish saints which includes Pierguin, possibly or possibly not the same person.

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Post by CJenkin » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:43 pm

Carbilly said:
Thanks for that info, most interesting, but it still doesn't resolve the fundamental question. Is the CORRECT pronunciation PIER-an, which sounds wrong to me, or PERRan, which is what I've always been brought up with - or have I been wrong all these years?


Hi Carbilly
Of course no pronunciation is wrong - you can pronounce anything any way you like. I think in anglo-Cornish which I presume you speak PERRan is perfectly acceptable. If you were speaking latin or influenced by latin then Piranus/Piran. For Cornish speakers they maybe influenced by the 1086 reference that Marhak quotes which would be rendered in modern Cornish as Pyran. This shows the lack of lowering and lack of double r mentioned by palores. Really its your choice none is more correct than anyother and doubtless all of them will continue to be used as they have been for centuries.

Carbilly
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Post by Carbilly » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:44 pm

''Of course no pronunciation is wrong – you can pronounce anything any way you like.''



Do you work for Radio Cornwall by any chance?:lol:

So presumably you voice no objection when people say to you 'Conan - as in the Barbarian?'' I beg to differ on this point, it's one of my main bugbears I'm afraid. It's pronounced 'Perran' as far as I know as that's how Cornish people always pronounce it, how my parents pronounce it, and how my grandparents pronounced it. Surely that,s the way Cornish speakers pronounced it?

Should I just accept it if someone who's been here 5 minutes decides to call it 'Pieran', coz it doesn't matter and you can pronounce anything any way you like?

No, it wont wash I'm afraid. Even hearing the wrong inflection sets my teeth on edge - 'PERRAN-porth, LYSKeard, REDruth etc etc...

It's part of our history, culture, and what makes us Cornish, IMHO.:cool:

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Post by CJenkin » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:08 pm

Carbilly said:
''Of course no pronunciation is wrong – you can pronounce anything any way you like.''

Do you work for Radio Cornwall by any chance?:lol:
So presumably you voice no objection when people say to you 'Conan - as in the Barbarian?'' I beg to differ on this point, it's one of my main bugbears I'm afraid. It's pronounced 'Perran' as far as I know as that's how Cornish people always pronounce it, how my parents pronounce it, and how my grandparents pronounced it. Surely that,s the way Cornish speakers pronounced it?
Should I just accept it if someone who's been here 5 minutes decides to call it 'Pieran', coz it doesn't matter and you can pronounce anything any way you like?
No, it wont wash I'm afraid. Even hearing the wrong inflection sets my teeth on edge - 'PERRAN-porth, LYSKeard, REDruth etc etc...
It's part of our history, culture, and what makes us Cornish, IMHO.:cool:


The point I was generally making is that pronunciation is neutral (therefore there is no such thing as correct pronunciation) - however it is only when you start adding a political stance that you might start to argue something is correct or not. If you take the political stance that anglo-cornish pronunciation is the most common form used in Cornwall and is worthy of support and preservation and should be used by our broad casters then we can argue that it is the 'correct' pronunciation and they should use it (Something I wholeheartedly support). However Anglo-Cornish pronunciation although having many links with Cornish Language pronunciation is not necessarily the same and there are many placenames and sounds that are quite different in each mode of speech.
Anglo-cornish culture is indeed part of our history, culture and is part of what makes us Cornish but it isn't always the same as Cornish culture. Your grandparents were taught their literacy through english and for example to get back to someone speaking Cornish within your ancestors you are probably looking at Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents at that's probably being conservative so that's a long time for changes to occur from Cornish into our modern Anglo-Cornish pronunciation. Take for example the Cornish word Hwiogenn that ends up as oggie in anglo-cornish.
In Anglo-Cornish I would say PERRan and in Cornish I would say PYRan any other pronunciation you could argue has no native tradition behind it. PIERen certainly seems very odd but is due to an anglicised attempt to read PIRan.
Inflection (by which I presume you mean stress) is a different matter altogether as in most placenames and anglo-cornish words we place the stress on the penultimate syllable, this is now starting to alter under the influence of english. e.g. REDruth would have been correct but you more frequently hear now reDRUTH which is shortened to DRUTH.
PS I often use 'Conan the barbarian' to illustrate the spelling if not the pronunciation and point out that COE - NAN is an american pronunciation so people normally get it's wrong. Actually of course its really an anglicisation caused by confusion over whether to apply the great vowel shift or not. Local people generally get the idea quickly of CONan by analogy with Tregonning, Connan Bridge or the surname Connon.

Carbilly
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Post by Carbilly » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:50 pm

CJenkin said; '' Your grandparents were taught their literacy through english and for example to get back to someone speaking Cornish within your ancestors you are probably looking at Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents at that's probably being conservative so that's a long time for changes to occur from Cornish into our modern Anglo-Cornish pronunciation.''

No, you wouldn't, really you wouldn't need to go back that far. I don't buy all this ''Cornish died out in the late c18'' anymore than I think for a minute that Dolly Pentreath was the last native speaker.I don't think for a minute that she was even the last monoglot.

What surveys were ever undertaken? English became the language of commerce, but what of the home? I can distinctly remember as a boy being told by an acquaintance of my Grand father that his Grandmother spoke Cornish, and that was in the St.Agnes area. In how many other communities did Cornish hang on?

As for changes from Cornish into anglo-Cornish, undoubtedly some did occur but how many and when? I would argue that long after the language was lost, the majority of place names would have kept the same pronunciation and inflection, sorry, stress, as before - after all, we're talking a thousand plus years of Cornish versus a couple of hundred of English. Most of my Grandfathers field names on his farm were in Cornish. I pronounced them the same way as he did, despite not having a clue as to their meaning at the time. Isn't it logical to assume that that's the way our 'modern' pronunciations are arrived at, i.e handed down in an unbroken line through the generations - that's how things work in a society based on a strong oral tradition, isn't it?

The final death of Cornish, IMO, came with the introduction of state education and particularly the C of E schools. However, I still believe that the closest you'll ever get to how Cornish was last spoken, and to how it should continue to be pronounced, is to listen to the voices of the last remaining 'proper' dialect speakers of west Cornwall.

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Post by CJenkin » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:56 pm

No, you wouldn't, really you wouldn't need to go back that far. I don't buy all this "Cornish died out in the late c18" anymore than I think for a minute that Dolly Pentreath was the last native speaker.I don't think for a minute that she was even the last monoglot. What surveys were ever undertaken? English became the language of commerce, but what of the home? I can distinctly remember as a boy being told by an acquaintance of my Grand father that his Grandmother spoke Cornish, and that was in the St.Agnes area. In how many other communities did Cornish hang on?
-The thing is just cos you don't buy it doesn't mean to say that it didn't happen. The historical evidence points strongly against any kind of substantial survival into the 19th century. We simply don't have any evidence of a community of cornish speakers throughout the whole of the 19th century. I agree that other people who could speak Cornish outlived Dolly but she undoubtedly belonged to the last generation where Cornish was used as a community language and she would've been born close to 1700. If you were extremely lucky then you might have had an ancestor speaking Cornish in the early 1700s. You ask what surveys were undertaken, well Lhuyd made a fairly comprehensive survey around 1700 and he gives us an idea of in what parishes some Cornish was still spoken. These are all in the west and the language is in a minority position even in these parishes. That means 9/10 of the Cornish parishes had no Cornish whatsoever in 1700. You would be right that initially English became the language of commerce and Cornish the language of the home but these changes were taking place post reformation e.g. 1550s not 1850s. By the time you get to 1850 there is noone left to communicate cornish with. Cornish has entered the realm of antiquarian study.
As for changes from Cornish into anglo-Cornish, undoubtedly some did occur but how many and when? I would argue that long after the language was lost, the majority of place names would have kept the same pronunciation and inflection, sorry, stress, as before – after all, we're talking a thousand plus years of Cornish versus a couple of hundred of English. Most of my Grandfathers field names on his farm were in Cornish. I pronounced them the same way as he did, despite not having a clue as to their meaning at the time. Isn't it logical to assume that that's the way our 'modern' pronunciations are arrived at, i.e handed down in an unbroken line through the generations – that's how things work in a society based on a strong oral tradition, isn't it?
-To an extent you are right (but think about chinese whispers by people who aren't native speakers) because even today there are some elements of our english speech that hark back to the Cornish language, stress is one of those, rhythm, maybe accent and a few vowels but much of our pronunciation is largely influenced by english and indeed these processes were already at work in the 17th century and almost certainly account for the changes that we know about between Middle Cornish and Late Cornish. Cornwall began moving from an oral society to a literate society in the middle ages and was no longer an oral society by the 19th century.
The final death of Cornish, IMO, came with the introduction of state education and particularly the C of E schools. However, I still believe that the closest you'll ever get to how Cornish was last spoken, and to how it should continue to be pronounced, is to listen to the voices of the last remaining 'proper' dialect speakers of west Cornwall.
- state education for all was introduced by the 1872 education act and even the couple of people that Rod Lyon suggests who might have known a bit of traditional cornish were old by then and would've been schooled in the very early 1800s. C of E schools (and Methodist) appeared in Cornwall in the late 1700s around the time of Dolly's death and there instruction was completely in English. By then there was no opportunity for Cornish literacy. Bodinar's letter the last bit of traditional written Cornish also dates from then and is further evidence of the lack of Cornish speaking communities three generations after Lhuyd's survey. Bodinar mentions a handful of people in Mousehole all old people, even looking on the bright side we couldn't estimate more than 100 people across Lhuyd's 20 parishes (mostly old) which means within a generation there would've been any significant traditional speakers, and the evidence backs this up. Dialect and pronunciation ranged across Cornwall so picking on one area to suggest this is somehow a better indicator seems inappropriate for the 9/10 of the population that don't live in the far west. Indeed the far west have some unusual features which may not be Cornish at all, one of these is the shift from pure vowels which can be found in other cornish dialects and is an artefact from Cornish speech. A contrary argument is that when Cornish was in its terminal phase and was overwhelmed by english that its influence began to affect the language Lhuyd refers to this as 'corruptions' and it's likely that west penwith dialect is more english influenced that dialects further east which were able to maintain Cornish features from when Cornish was still a vibrant and flourishing language. Which ever way you prefer to look at it Cornish language features would have entered our english speech over 300 years ago and that's plenty of time for pronunciation to have been lost or changed, particularly with the influence of english literacy.

Carbilly
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Post by Carbilly » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:26 pm

CJenkin said''The thing is just cos you don't buy it doesn't mean to say that it didn't happen. The historical evidence points strongly against any kind of substantial survival into the 19th century. We simply don't have any evidence of a community of cornish speakers throughout the whole of the 19th century.''

So Beresford-Ellis's claims of fishermen still counting in Cornish in the 1940's, the ''discovery'' of six speakers in their 60s in 1875, and other anecdotal tales mean nothing because they weren't peer reviewed by academics? I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this. You see, as far as I'm concerned there's a lot more people with a vested interest in backdating the ''extinction'' of Cornish than not.

If you were a surviving speaker, it was certainly nothing to brag about, having long been derided as an inferior, peasant tongue - not something you'd necessarily advertise to any passing researcher, assuming he could track you down!

''Cornwall began moving from an oral society to a literate society in the middle ages and was no longer an oral society by the 19th century.''

My Gramp's generation contained plenty of people who struggled with both reading and writing - viewing both as superfluous to a life on the land, with many parents seeing school as a distraction from farm work.

''Dialect and pronunciation ranged across Cornwall so picking on one area to suggest this is somehow a better indicator seems inappropriate for the 9/10 of the population that don't live in the far west.''

Fair enough, but surely any basis for a revival should be taken from the area where Cornish was most recently spoken?

Cheers for the detailed reply anyway.

Oll an Gwella!

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Post by truru » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:10 am

Any rationale based on location would mean that everyone in the far east of Cornwall should be speaking Old Cornish, why one and not the other.
Cornish did cease to exist as a fluently spoken language in the late 1700s, but it didn't just suddenly disappear, the amount of Cornish that people knew also became gradually less and less, from songs, poems and sayings in the 1800s becoming just numbers and the odd word "hevva" in the early 1900s. Read the 2010 edition of Jenner's Handbook to read about Cornish words still being used in 1875. There has never been a point in the history of Cornwall where someone did not have at least some knowledge of the language.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:18 pm

Revived Cornish should, in my view, honour the linguistic tradition, as amply demonstrated by the place-name forms I listed, and render the saint's name as: Peran.  St Peran's Day: Golperan.  St Peran's flag: Baner Peran.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:32 am

Rod Lyon's 'Cornish - the Struggle for Survival' details evidence of native speakers continuing in some West Penwith parishes well into the 19th century (Madron and Zennor particularly), plus one native speaker (John Mann) who was still alive in 1914, as recorded by Richard Hall.  I think these accounts need to be taken seriously.

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