[Spellyans] i ~ y

Hewitt, Stephen s.hewitt at unesco.org
Tue Feb 3 17:49:56 GMT 2009

No, it seems to me that, apart from initial spirant mutation, possibly (and even there, in Breton, there is widespread voicing of etymological <th>), that /th/ was voiced to /dh/, at which point there was only one phoneme, which was regularly devoiced in polysyllabic finals.
In Breton the two must have been close, but not identical, so that you actually had a three-way opposition of /th/ (from provection only) - /dh,/ (dh with extra friction) - /dh/, analogous to the widely documented three-way opposition in northern dialects of /f/ - /v,/ - /v/. In numerous dialects, the /v,/ - /v/ opposition has been neutralised to a single phoneme /v/. Part of the reason this must have been so is that the modern dialect reflexes of historical /th/ ( > /dh,/) and /dh/ are not the same: KLT /z/, Vannes /h/ for the first, and L /z/, elsewhere /-/ for the second/. 
Steve Hewitt

-----Original Message-----
From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net]On Behalf Of nicholas williams
Sent: 03 February 2009 18:40
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] i ~ y

Are you seriously suggesting that /d/ when lenited initially might have had an allophonic voiceless variant? 
It was written after all  written <th>, e.g. ty a then omma OM 230.

There were two forms of the third singular masculine prepositional pronoun: dotho/dotha and thotho/thotha.
Are you suggesting that the first had a voiced initial and the second could have a voiceless one?

Lhuyd may in final position have been influenced by Welsh, but initially he actually has different symbols
to represent the voiced and the unvoiced dental continuants.

Then there is the question of place-names. 
Is there a difference in the traditional pronunciation of say Rosenithon < ros an eythyn
and Trevithick < tre Vudhek?
Perhaps Craig could be helpful here.



On 3 Feb 2009, at 16:27, Hewitt, Stephen wrote:

So please, incontrovertible evidence, Lhuyd aside, in favour of two separate phonemes /ð/ and /θ/? Surely the "authentic spellings" strongly suggest only one...?

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