The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

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John Morris-Jones and his Welsh Grammar

When Morris-Jones’s Welsh Grammar was published the Cymmrodorion held a banquet in the Trocadero Restaurant, Piccadilly Circus, and the following day, 4 July 1913, David Lloyd-George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, threw a garden party at 11 Downing Street.1 These celebrations were noticed in the Revue celtique by the great French philologist Joseph Vendryes, who regretted that he had been unable to accept an invitation to attend.2 The appearance of this work, which the author had been writing and indeed rewriting for many years, seemed, he said, to be an événement national. But did it deserve ‘so complimentary’ a welcome (si atteur)? Yes, it did, says Vendryes, but with reservations. First of all, he is astonished that the author, while paying due homage to predecessors such as Zeuss, Strachan, and Pedersen, barely mentions Vendryes’ own compatriot Joseph Loth, even when adopting Loth’s ideas. Secondly, Morris-Jones’s etymologies are often fanciful, for example, that twrch ‘boar’ is related to Latin porcus with the Indo-European *p becoming Celtic *t here rather than getting lost as it normally did, as in Irish orc ‘pig’. Edward Anwyl had already described this section kindly as ‘braidd yn anturiaethus’ (‘rather adventurous’).3 Thirdly, Morris-Jones tends to ignore Irish and, even more seriously, Cornish and Breton.

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