Cornish Onomastics

Names are not simply ‘identifiers’, but have a particular value within literature and history. The names of actual persons carry additional information that relates to their referential context. This is what individuals and communities collectively believed about these individuals and the places that they were related to, perhaps linking to real events, folk traditions and community origins, therefore holding important cultural significance to those communities.

Practically and crucially, it is not always possible to unpick which names are proper names. For example: The titles Duke and Earl or the floral names Daisy and Heather are classematic nouns but may also be used as proper names: individual identifiers for persons. In order to make sense of literature, histories or records of events an approach to decoding and classifying different types of name category is thus required.

Notwithstanding the need to reconstruct the morphology and phonology of Late South-western British and Old Cornish, there is the question of the grammar of Cornish names and naming, identifying which are proper names, and from the context, which names refer to a specific individual that repeatedly occurs within a corpus of literature or historical documents.

Indexes of names exist for Brittonic names from the C3BC to C10CE, but a comprehensive and standardised approach to cataloguing personal names is yet to be established. This is one of the research goals of this project.