6 MARCH 1964, Page 16


SIR,—You wondered (on January 10) how a 'PhD in Cornish' can have been awarded to a candidate at Columbia University. The language being 'virtually extinct . . . who, then, examined him?' It suffices to ask how the thing is done when a PhD is taken in Latin, Sanskrit, or Hittite—all more than virtually extinct.

The degree that aroused your scepticism was actually in Linguistics; the dissertation bore upon a twelfth-century Cornish-Latin lexicon and was en- titled 'The Old Cornish Vocabulary.' With it anti

some nationalistic fire, it should be possible to have a great literary revival, a sovereign State, a Parlia- ment, and an atomic pile.

JACQUES BARZUN Columbia University in the City of New York