[Spellyans] i ~ y

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Feb 4 18:53:24 GMT 2009


On 4 Feb 2009, at 17:35, Hewitt, Stephen wrote:

> Agreed that it is not voicing, but in the fortis/lenis scheme of  
> things, in both Breton and Cornish, /x/ and /h/ do appear to be in a  
> pair, so x > h is a "softening", in other words, lenition.

I really believe that too much is made of the fortis/lenis scheme of  
things. Unlike Breton, which was influenced by French and Francian and  
post-Gaulish and whatever was there when the proto-Bretons got there,  
and unlike Welsh which until very recently had no appreciable  
influence from English at all, Cornish has for *all* of its history  
lived alongside and within zones of Old English, Middle English, and  
Modern English communities.

I think it likely that fortis/lenis was exchanged for the Germanic  
voiceless/voiced a good while before the Late Cornish period. Indeed,  
noting what Nicholas has written about Manx, I would say that the  
following is a plausible scenario for the development of pre-occlusion:

[mː] attempted as [mm̩] by Germanic speakers, breaking to [mˀm],  
coalescing as [ᵇm]
[nː] attempted as [nn̩] by Germanic speakers, breaking to [nˀn],  
coalescing as [ᵈn]

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com





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