[Spellyans] 'who' in Cornish

nicholas williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Mon Jul 18 09:37:47 IST 2011

The word for 'who' is attested six times in  Bewnans Ke and it is always spelt pew.
Tregear spells 'who' pew eight times.
pew occurs twice in SA.
pew occurs x 4 in CW
In the song Delkiow Sevi 'who' is pew
Lhuyd writes peu a ryg an bad-ober JCH §32

Elsewhere in the texts:
pyv occurs 33 times
pyw occurs 11 times

pu is attested three times in PA and Rowe writes pu Reg laule theese; Lhuyd writes Pu 'who' and Piu AB: 229c
Lhuyd writes piu in JCH x 3. 

Lhuyd's piu has a dot under the u. The diphthong is thus identical with that in Lhuyd's diu 'black', which we spell <du>.
For us therefore Lhuyd's piu could equally well be pu.

The form pywa 'who, what?' in incredulous questions is written 
Peua by Lhuyd x 1 and Piua x 2. The same word is written pewa twice in CW.

The SWF writes *piw, a spelling which is not found anywhere in Cornish.
*Piw is not based on Welsh, which uses the metathesised form pwy.
*Piw is based on Breton piv and is defended by reference to Lhuyd's piu (which could equally well be understood as pu).

There is no difference in actual pronunciation between pew, pyw and *piw (whatever may be claimed)
Given that pyw and pew are the forms actually attested in traditional Cornish,
would it not be sensible for the SWF to write pyw, pew or at least to allow pew alongside *piw?


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