[Spellyans] <dh> ~ <th>

A. J. Trim ajtrim at msn.com
Mon Nov 29 16:06:31 GMT 2010

Thanks, Michael. That's very interesting. It explains the p in Sampson but 
not in damson.

However, pymp/pemp ended in -p already, i.e. before the dek was added. 
Surely, it was the presence of that p that dictated that we had -thek rather 
than -dhek in pempthek. If the p is elided, there is no need for -thek. It 
can be -dhek as in the other numbers. I don't believe that the p is present 
because the suffix is -thek.


Andrew J. Trim

-----Original Message----- 
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2010 2:17 PM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans]  ~

On 29 Nov 2010, at 13:22, A. J. Trim wrote:

> Could there be two forms, pempthek and pem'dhek?

More likely pempthek and pemthek.

> Perhaps some people pronounced the p and others didn't.

The p there is a part of a bridging consonant cluster, homorganic with the 
preceding nasal and voiceless like the following . In English you see 
similar things in Thomson and Thompson, Samson and Sampson, [sæmsən] and 
[sæmpsən]: the p may be inserted, but the following consonant is not voiced. 
We don't get *Samzon or *Sambzon. Now, if *pembdhek were found that would be 
another thing. 'Tisn't though.

> I would expect the p to affect the voicing of the th/dh. Perhaps the full 
> version was used in counting and the other used in connected speech.

A homorganic consonant inserted in such a position doesn't cause the 
devoicing of the following consonant.. it reflects the nature of that 
consonant. So we have Samson and Sampson, but chimney and chimbley. Now in 
that example, the n is converted to an l, but the bridging consonant is 
voiced like the following consonant, not voiceless.

> The evidence just reported is good, and it tells us how these numbers were 
> pronounced when counting (pilchards?) in one location in the 1870s. It may 
> be more reliable than Lhuyd's evidence.

AB doesn't tell us the context of many of its words. Some were collected in 
the field by him. Some by others. Some were rewritten by him in his phonetic 
script on the basis of manuscript readings. It's a mistake to try to treat 
AB in the same way we might treat one of Leonard Bloomfield's collected 
transcriptions of Algonquin languages. And it's a mistake to underestimate 
L1 interference from Welsh, as Nicholas has discussed.

And he was not a trained phonetician such as we have today (or as we had 
even in Jenner's time). Modern phonetics didn't exist then. Indeed he was a 
pioneer. But so many examples of e.g. meneth vs menedh in stand-alone 
citation position has to be explained -- and can't be explained by external 
sandhi as Dan claims to find in JCH, because there is no external sandhi in 
citation forms.

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

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