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Cornouaille (Traditional province, Brittany, France)

Kernev, Kernew, Bro Gernev

Last modified: 2005-07-09 by ivan sache
Keywords: kernev | kernew | bro gernev | cornouaille | ram (white) |
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[Flag of Cornouaille]by Michel Bolloré


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Presentation of Cornouaille

Cornouaille is located in the south-west of Brittany. It is an ancient bishopric and county. Its historical capital city is Quimper (Kemper), current préfecture of the department of Finistère.

Michel Bolloré, 29 December 1999


Description of the flag of Cornouaille

The canting arms of Cornouaille date from 1426. They represent a ram passant. Kernev, the Breton name of the province, comes from the words kern, horn and knev, fleece.

Yoran Delacour, designer of the flag in 1996, took as a starting point the flag of the Swiss cantons of Grishun and Schaffhausen. The ram is thus projecting and has a more combative bearing.

The flag was approved by the Breton Vexillological Society.

Michel Bolloré, 29 December 1999

The Breton name of the province of Cornouailles is normally spelt Kernev in the most commonly used Peurunvan "the completely unified" orthography (sometimes Zedachek from its use of  ZH, plus -ek), although Kernew is possible in the Skolveuriek "the university" and Etrerannyezhel "interdialectical" orthographies.
However, the etymology kern+knev "horns"+"fleece" is wrong. In fact the same word is used for Cornwall, although usually the suffix -Veur "great" is added, on the model of Breizh-Veur "Britain". The real etymology is */kornowi:/ with i-affection giving *kernew. The element -ow- is apparently linked to the plural ending -ou in Breton (-ow in Cornish, -au < -eu in Welsh) and the whole apparently means "(land) of the horned ones", being a genitive of *kornowes. It is presumably a reference to an ancient tribal badge or perhaps a head-dress, possibly linked to the horned tribal god Kernounos (< *kernowonos?). The etymology given above is a mere folk etymology, although an understandable one given the form.

Talat Chaudhri, 8 March 2005