[Spellyans] gwiryoneth

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Thu Nov 18 07:39:08 GMT 2010

> From: Nicholas Williams
>> Lhuyd writes guironeth twice. Guironeth cannot be ascribed to contamination with Welsh. So guironeth is more likely to be genuine than a form in -edh. The final segment was voiceless.

On 18 Nov 2010, at 00:35, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> In your opinion Nicholas, because it happens to fit your theory of the phonological history of Cornish. But Lhuyd has other words with final <dh> in unstressed syllables.

Yes, Dan. But you haven't addressed the argument, which has been given several times already. We have an explanation for why Lhuyd writes both -eth and -edh in some words. It is that he heard -eth but sometimes wrote -edh because of what Nicholas has just called "contamination" with his native language. He'd never have written -eth if he'd been hearing -edh. It'd be -eth right through. The same can be said for -ev. He couldn't have heard "genev" because the forms by that time were "gene vy" and "genama" or "genam". The -ev is most probably "contamination" with his native language.

Moreover, we see that throughout the system of other consonants we have devoicing in final unstressed position. By Occam's razor we note that the simplest explanation is that (1) the interdental and labiodental fricatives behaved just like the other consonants and devoiced in unstressed final position and that (2) where Lhuyd gives -eð and -ev it is on the basis of Welsh, particularly has he gives them inconsistently as against -eθ.

Our theory fits the evidence better than the theory that -eð and -ev were operative and that somehow the -eθ in guironeth and other words... erm.... Well, no, I don't think I've heard an explanation. 

In sum, since a decision has to be made as to whether to write -eth or -edh, we prefer the former, because phonologically the explanation is simpler, and because even allowing for doubt we know that we are not making a mistake if we write -th as the texts do.

This is not rash, and it is not unfounded in strong and sensible reasoning.

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

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