Biddulph seeks out the ancient celtic language of South West Britain by reference to local placenames and looking for common elements in Old Breton and Old Cornish that reveal a common ancestry. In reality it raises more questions than answers, but they are important questions to ask. Where do some placename elements come from, and why are they so difficult to decipher? The booklet provides a basic but useful look at words and grammar for this ancient corner of Britain and does so in an accessible format. It is not a dry and dusty academic work, and it has been criticised as a result, but that was not its intent. If the intent was to provoke thought and interest then this brief booklet succeeds.
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This little book provokes further study of the history of South West England. Of course, Cornwall has its own language and should be its own country if I understand fully the Stannish Laws. But what of the counties in the region: Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and southern and western parts of Gloucestershire? Mr Biddulph gives a brief but good account of a different history, hidden by Anglo-Saxon historians. He goes on to describe the so-called Devonian-Brythonic, gradually lost through interaction with the Anglo-Saxons settlers. It is a language very similar to Cornish and with the right direction could be resurrected in South West England. Here's hoping that there is further study and resurrection of this lost Language. Why not? It beats the dumbing down and cultural desert on TV.
A self published book for a reason... Anyone who studied celtic languages or even had any academic rigour would find it either laughable or appalling.
The 'old devonian' part of the title of the book is without doubt designed to cash in on the market of people in devon who are aware of the language of nearby cornwall, who would 'want' there to be a language for devon, and are unfortunatly niave enough to fall for it. Unfortunatly the entire premise of the book is flawed... there is not a single historical references to a 'devonian' language, nor is it considered a hypothetical language by celtic scholars.
Moving onto the 'West Country Brythonic'... this makes slightly more sense, celtic scholars talk of a HYPOTHETICAL southwestern bythonic dialect/language(s) a proto language. However there is not a single text in this language, even to confirm its existance!
And even based on this very shakey premise of attempting to reconstruct a very old hypothetical language of which we have no direct evidence he makes a very poor attempt, producing something more like a mixture of the more modern languages of cornish and welsh.
If somone were to honestly attempt such a shakey reconstruction as an excercise you would produce a book about 'how' you have attempted to do it and what (little) you can say about it, and maybe some best guesses. Not straight off the bat produce a handbook on how to speak it.
A very poor book, that is (probably self knowingly) damaging to the study of the very area it is about.
If you are from Devon and are interested in learning a Devonian language, I suggest you find a good book on the devon dialect of english.
If you are interested in brythonic languages (in particular southwestern brythonic languages leading to cornish) then I suggest you either buy a more general book on the subject by a more reputable author, or to focus in slightly more, one on the history of the cornish language.
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westcountry brythonic4 Mar. 2005
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An interesting book which has unfortunatly been pounced on by a number of individuals attempting to copy the celtic culture of Cornwall. I shall reserve my judgement here of the actual factual content of the book, but for people with an interest in celtic history this is certainly an interesting book although many will feel that its true factual content is minimum due to sparceness of the sources.
The title echoes the title of The 'father of cornish revival' Jenner, whether this was intended or not it is certainly a contraversial book. I would recommend any speakers of kernewek or welsh buy in order to understand their own tongue and its original context.
It is well to remember though that the brythonic tongue has living ancestors . Therefore I would reccomend anyone with no previous experience buy first guides to welsh, breton or cornish and also a more broad ranged Celtic history books which would put 'Old devonian' in perspective with the ancient and modern Celtic nations.