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kernowclimber
2010-11-05 16:42:46
Placenames and cultural heritage
Couldn't agree more, Bleck Cra. The same issues have arisen in Cornwall. Placenames are a vital component of cultural heritage and the names themselves, and the contexts in which they are found, are full of rich detail concerning the landscape, its natural features, industry and archaeology. They also inform us of society and of the history of families, migrations, occupations, pastimes and religion.

In Cornwall, as in Ireland and Scotland, sadly, many have been Anglicised from the Celtic and their meaning has been lost or greatly diminished as a result. Thus Henlys (Old Court) becomes Helston; Lys arth (Court on a High Place) becomes Lizard; Marghas byghan (small market) is now Marazion and Res ruth (Red Ford) is now Redruth. Some names have been directly translated into English: Pol lefans for example translates as Frogpool. The OS mappers were to blame for a lot of this; one of their biggest clangers was the renaming in 1813 of Foweymore (an ancient Stannary or tin producing area named after the River Fowey which rises within it) as Bodmin Moor, made famous by Daphne du Maurier in her 'Jamaica Inn'.

More recently has been the annoying attempts of in-migrants to change the pronounciation of Cornish language placenames (with their long vowel sounds) such as Breage (to Breeg) and Meneage (to Meneeg). A recent caller on Radio Cornwall said it didn't matter whether it was Breage or Breege. I strongly disagree and well done Barry for bringing to light the vital cultural heritage of this island contained in its placenames. Den heb davaz a gollaz i dir, and unfortunately, in Cornwall's case, this is depressingly true.
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