[Spellyans] lyw & lew

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Fri Feb 11 15:05:05 GMT 2011



I think TH lew ‘flood’ and CW lew ‘colour’ can be explained by looking at the orthographic conventions in contemporary English. In the mid- to late 16th century the Early Modern English diphthongs /iu/ (e.g. in new) and /eu/ (e.g. in few) coalesced in /iu/ (> /juː/ 17th c.) and could both be written <ew>, e.g. new and few. Since TH and CW appear to have borrowed some orthographic conventions from Early Modern English it follows that lew ‘colour’ and lew ‘flood’ could be thus written in Cornish. That liw ‘colour’ and lew ‘rudder’ remained phonemically distinct in Cornish can be seem from Lhuyd’s <lêụ> ‘rudder’ and <liụ> ‘colour’. It is highly unlikely that later MC /iu/ and /eu/ would fall in with each other, only to be split again in LC showing the ‘correct’ etymological distribution – it is far more likely that they remained distinct and were only spelt <ew> because this digraph allowed for both pronunciations [ɪʊ] and [ɛʊ].   


‘Drive, lead’ is attested as <leua> in the Lord’s Prayer as written down by Thomas Boson in: “ha na raze gen Leua do droage”, so the SWF is correct in allowing lewa next to lewya(s).





From: nicholas williams
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 2:18 PM


“And then there is also the question of Tregear's <lew> 'flood' and <lew> 'colour' in CW. The form lew 'colour' means that the minimal pair liu ~ leu may not be so.

I recommend:


lyw 'colour'

lew 'lion'; in poetry and cf. the modern coinages lewes 'lioness', lewyk 'lion cub'

lew 'rudder'

liv 'flood'; cf. the plural lyvyow in CW


Neither lew 'lion' nor lew 'rudder' is attested in Middle Cornish. The usual word for 'to drive' (a car) in revived Cornish is lewyas, but this word is not attested. The word lêuiader 'pilot' is given by Pryce, but may derive from Lhuyd's Welsh form llywiawdr. The only attested word for 'to drive' in Cornish is seen in Tregear:


pan rug an tas aga dryvya in mes a paradice TH 13

Eff a ve dryvys war thyller TH 49a.




On 2011 Whe 11, at 13:00, Dr Jon Mills wrote:

“The SWF gives LYW for 'rudder' and gives LEW for 'lion'. The attestations for these two items are as follows.

LYW: 'rudder', Old Cornish:  "clavus: leu pi obi" [Vocabularium Cornicum: 282];  Lhuyd (1707)  "lêụ" [48b]; "lêu" [16b]; "Lêụ gụrhal The rudder of a ship" [48b].

LEW: 'lion', Old Cornish:  "leo: leu" [Vocabularium Cornicum: 560]; Lhuyd (1707)  "lêụ" [241b]; "† lhêụ" [78a].

Given that the attestations for these two items are identical, should we not spell these words the same way, i.e. <lew>?

Note: I am aware that Middle Cornish does not attest LEW and instead uses "lyon".

Ol an gwella,



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