[Spellyans] th/dh

Hewitt, Stephen s.hewitt at unesco.org
Mon Nov 22 09:18:35 GMT 2010

Breton has both pewarzeg (ZH pevarzek) < pewarðeg, and pemzeg (ZH pemzek) < pemðeg, with no trace of *pemzheg (ZH *pemzhek) < *pemθeg which should have given */pemheg/ in Gwened. It looks as if Breton and, quite possibly, Cornish gave a different treatment to the word for “fifteen” from Welsh. Lhuyd’s pemdhak may well have been correct.


Steve Hewitt



From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net] On Behalf Of nicholas williams
Sent: Monday, November 22, 2010 10:03 AM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] th/dh


In Welsh the form is pymtheg with a voiceless medial th. When the group mth is dissimilated to th in the word pythefnos 'fortnight' the th (rather than dd) is even more apparent.

Pythefnos is etymologically identical with Irish coicís 'fortnight', earlier coicthis, with a voiceless internal group. The simplex is OIr cóic 'five', Modern Irish cúig where the final is voiced.

So both Goedelic and Brythonic have a voiced final and and a voiceless internal group in a derivative of 'fifteen'

Why then should Cornish have pymdhek?

Pryce writes pemdhak in imitation of Lhuyd, because much of his Arch. Cornu-Brit. was plagiarised from AB.

But Jenner in his collection of numerals from Mount's Bay 1875 (See Michael's edition of Jenner page 242) gives pempthak 'fifteen' from the Kelynacks and pemthack from Mrs Soady.

Since Jenner in these lists writes daudhak 'twelve', and bizwaudhak 'fourteen' for example, I think we can be reasonably certain that Lhuyd's pemdhak is indeed mistaken. The evidence from Mount's Bay indicates that traditional spoken Cornish had th in the word pymthek, not dh.

To suggest that Lhuyd's pemdhak is correct looks to me like special pleading.




On 2010 Du 22, at 02:53, Owen Cook wrote:

 How do you know that 15 was [pemθək] and not [pemðək]?


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