[Spellyans] latest, etc.

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu Jul 14 08:25:36 IST 2011

In KS we write dyweth 'end', but dewetha 'last', dewedha 'to end', dewethfa 'ending' and dewedhes 'recent, late'.
The SWF writes diwedh, diwettha, diwedha, diwedhva and diwedhes for these.

Dan has pointed out that diweth 'end' occurs in the expression war an diweth at TH 18a; NBoson writes uor an diuath JCH §2; heb diuath 'without end' is attested twice elsewhere in Late Cornish. And Lhuyd has uar an diuedh at JCH §29 and diuadh three times elsewhere in the tale. Gwavas writes Bounaz heb diuadh. The diphthong of diwedh is therefore warranted by examples in traditional Cornish and by Lhuyd. 

The vowel of diwettha, diwedha, diwedhva and diwedhes is more problematic.
In all these forms the sequence of vowel + w occurs before the accent, the vowel is unstressed.
In traditional Cornish it seems to have lowered from high front to mid high. 

Traditional Cornish has 27 examples of dyweth, 5 examples of dywath, one of duwath and one of diweth. It has 29 examples of deweth, 10 of dewath, two of dewathe.

There are three examples of dywethe 'to end', two of dewethe.
The word for 'last' is dewetha x 6, thewetha x 2 and Lhuyd writes deuetha. There are no examples of *dywetha. 
Dewethes 'recent' occurs once; a thewethas 'recently' occurs x 8. There is no example of *dywethes. 
Dewethfa occurs twice, dewathfa once. There are no instances of *dywethfa or *dywethva

In traditional Cornish we also find:

dowethva BK 294, dowethva CW 2
re deball dowethy 'may you end badly' CW 520
neffra ny vithe dowethis 'never will it be finished' CW 2407
dre vedn a ua dowethe akar 'that it will die out' NBoson.

In order for -ow- to have arisen in later Cornish in these words, the sequence must have been a mid-front vowel followed by [w].
The same rounding occurred in bownans, bownas, bownanz < bewnans and in destrowy < destrewy. Forms of this 'to destroy' with ow are attested 5 times (the first in the Passion Poem).

As has been pointed out, bewnans, the source of bownans, is attested. *Bywnans is not.

The SWF by writing diwettha, diwedha, diwedhva and diwedhes is suggesting that  the diphthong is a high-front vowel followed
by -w-, but the forms dowethy, dowethe, dowethva suggest that the vowel in the first syllable was mid-high.

The three instances of dywethe 'to end' have probably been influence by the simplex and thus diwedha is perhaps legitimate (dewedha/dowedha should also be allowed). Iw in the other etyma is less happy. 

A revision of the SWF should perhaps consider permitting the first vowel in diwettha, diwedhes, diwedhva to be written as <e> rather than <i>.
And to allow spellings in <ow> for the Late Cornish variant of the SWF.


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