MEMORANDUMS OF THE CORNISH TONGUE
NATALI SOLO S:
LUDGVAN, JAN 5 1748
This little known book was written by the Rev. William Borlase, Rector of Ludgvan F.R.S. in 1748. P.A.S. Pool has a footnote reference to it in his book “The Death of Cornish” which reads “Memorandums Relating to the Cornish Tongue 1749 (Enys MSS, County Record Office, Truro), described by H Jenner, ‘The Borlase MS’ JRIC XIX 2 (1913), p.162”
It was bought by John Davies Enys in 1895 and is now held in Cornwall Records Office No. EN2000, and forms part of the Enys Family Archive.
The book consists of an Introduction and Parts I and II. It includes work collected from Lhuyd, Hals, Tonkin, Boson, Scawen, Gwavas, Ustick and the Cotton Vocabulary. In his Introduction, Borlase considers that the task of recording a ‘dying’ Language is “Very imperfect, Very difficult, Laborious and Disagreeable – because likely to be so imperfect & unsuccessfull, of some use” (sic). He goes on to write “If I do not merit thanks for what I have done, I may possibly be excus’d for not having done as much as I could” (sic)
As a Language Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd (albeit not a fluent one) I was excited at the prospect of just seeing and reading book but to actually be transcribing it is a privilege. While doing this work I have realised that there is also a sense of connecting with a person from the Past who until now has just been a name and one who was more or less discounted for not collecting as much as he probably could have.
In transcribing his work, while I would not presume to say that I know what sort of man he was, I think it has become obvious that he was aware of his own shortcomings and although he knew how thankless a task it was going to be, he still thought it a worthwhile, and possibly a necessary, one.
I think he realised that a People’s Language is part of their Identity and should not be lost choose how few people speak it or how fluently.
Maggie Hinch Cares Lyen