there’s a new book on the market, a hermeneutical work, and everybody’s talking about it, so i’ll be having a peruse of it as soon as i can get hold of a copy. for those of you clambering for my wise help and guidance, i’ll let you know whether it’s worth a gecko or not. shlomo zand or sand is the author, and The Invention of the Jewish People is the book. i’ve ordered the paperback -paupers must live like paupers – so watch this space.

without knowing what zand has said, i have to applaud his title. i’ve always been a great believer in the invention of, not the jewish people, but of the popular notion of the jews, as a fantasy to sustain the bible account of creation. but the real, original jewish people are elusive enough.

on the subject here’s an interview i did with etty moloji, while researching the exodus of cornish people from exeter, which our history bod, Hiss, Dorian tells me is dated to the 10th century, but dates that far back can’t be considered reliable because every household kept different records and even if they had any calendar at all, they weren’t synchronised. so the chronologies are a bit of a giggle. lights! action!

herman newt: good day to you, etty, i’m seeking insight into the reality of the character behind the name tewdar. he became the leader of the cornish when, in driving them out of exeter, aethelstan’s soldiers killed his father. can you help us with the etymology, etty?

etty moloji: ooh heaven’s yes, there’s such a lot of it there, herman. panting syllables as far as the eye can see. now the first thing to do, ooh thank you, is that elderflower? how refreshing, all sparkly. now the first thing to do is to hold the word down with one foot, and divide it carefully into its written and spoken components. the written bit is hard and firm, so we hold it by that, and now squint about for the phonetic possibilities. say it. how would you say that, herman? t*e*w*d*a*r?

herman newt: well, i’d say tew rhimes with dew, or it’s stew without the s, so i’d go for chew for the first syllable, and d@ for the second, and i’d put the emphasis on the first. chewdah. oh i get it. in cornish that’s mutate to jewdah. like judah.

etty moloji: only if they spelt it chewdar, but they didn’t. that doesn’t mean they never did, only that we haven’t recorded it. but you could bet your last mudworm at least some of them would have and yes, that does support the hypothesis of a link between the two. but can you think of any other ways? for example, your assumption that tew rhymes with dew or stew is pretty packed for an etymological foray. it assumes that the t is, like that in stew or like the d in dew, slender. perhaps it was at least sometimes, but let’s feel about for all the possibilities and see what sort of contexts they guide us to. you see the spelling must have the power to represent the sounds it represented in some way to the writer, bearing in mind that, for example in modern english, spelling gets almighty surreal sometimes, so we can assume a range of pronunciations loosely referred to at least by the letters.

herman: oh, i see. yes, well tew, as in ‘’e didn’t tew me why’.

etty: that’s it. and of course the vowel will vary from speaker to speaker e, o, i, a, @, u, etc. you see spelling was well, idiosyncratic, and writing was getting a tad cryptic. butcher’s hooks, you know. rows and rows of them, and when you get ms and ns and and vs and us and ws and double ls and double is and things like that all in a row its anybody’s guess, especially when you’re learning the school language out of text books, like they did latin, and gaulish and oh, all the inflected ones, for chrissakes they’re not old, they’re jerrybuilt from potted grammars, and you could so easily get taught the wrong word and there’s your tell turned into a tew before you know it.

herman: is this what happened?

etty: oh no! woah, hold your horses, herman! this is only one possibility. but we’ll come back to it. let’s now glance at where we see this:

Furv Latin y hanow a via nepprys Teutharius, nepprys Theodoricus. An Frankyon a’s galwa Thierry, ha’n KembroyonTewdr

lynn gwyst translates that for us as ‘the latin form of his name would be sometimes teutharius, sometimes theodoricus. the franks called him thierry, and the welsh, tewdr.’ this gives us a glimpse of the sort of range of phonetic possibilities.

herman: um, this isn’t exploring the relationship between the names tewdar and judah, etty.

etty: well, not yet, but there’s a lot of work to do and a lot less if you do it right the first time. and it’s probably just as relevant and to the point to pick up the word jew and consider its relationship to the french word dieu, the irish día, the jo of joseph(us) and diel, devil, deva, devon and all. we’ll look at other aspects next time.

herman: well, all right, class. Etty has given you your homework: making copious reference to at least a good beginner’s knowledge of at least six languages including hebrew, cornish, ancient greek, old irish and english, french, spanish, morroccan, dutch, gothic, persian and german, explain the relationships between these several words: the word jew, the french word dieu, the irish día, the jo of joseph(us) and diel, devil, deva, devon tracing their origins and noting every appearance in the literature. note any overlap in distribution with the words tewdar, judah, and tudor. try not to leave england yet. for next week, have read about athelstan and the expulsion of the cornish under tewdar from exeter. more wine, etty?

etty: no thank you herman. i am not a lush. (fading out)

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