A AND E AND JABBERWOCKY IN CORNWALL

21 November 2008

The Cornwall unitary council in waiting, if that’s how to call it, has decided to change the Cornwall logo from the present county council one. Now any organisation should think long and hard, and then think long and hard again, before changing its logo. Change invariably brings some opposition and complaints about the cost. The unitary logo looks to me like an advertisement for a domestic gas company but so be it: I’m not really engaged with this as an issue.

However, the slogan that goes with it is also causing difficulty. You will recall the horrendous fuss about the spelling of reconstructed/revived Cornish which I occasionally explored here and which still rumbles on. The old county slogan was Onen hag oll which means in Cornish One and all and is used everywhere. The unitary slogan is to be Onan hag oll because that’s the new spelling apparently.

Yes, you’ve got it. This new spelling, a rather than e, has caused a fuss.

I have even fewer views on this than I do on the logo itself (though I think I’d avoid spellings open to mischievous biblical misconstruction) but life really can’t be that bad in Cornwall if we have time for a spelling row about a and e.

Additionally, at Carbis Bay the Cornish naming of a road has caused difficulty. The name for the road was Teyla Tor, which apparently does not mean anything in Cornish though I think it was intended to; and, to the shagrin of the experts promoting the language, councillors stuck with that rather than the correct Tir Teylu (family land) which they apparently could not pronounce.

It is amusing that town councillors have chosen jabberwocky rather than real language but there is an important point here. As English and Cornish more often share public space, it is wise to choose Cornish words that are pronounceable and reasonably spellable by the English-speaking majority, a truly vast majority, and not open to unintended ridicule because of their spelling or sound. And if there are any innocent English words whose sound or spelling reduces Cornish speakers to mirth, we should be told.


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