[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Thu Sep 8 15:37:52 BST 2011


From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net]
On Behalf Of nicholas williams
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 10:32 AM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] gawas 'to get'
"And is very unlikely." 
If we look at the evidence it is as likely as it is unlikely. We don't know.
There is evidence that points towards Cornish having retained the
distinction and some that indicates it may not have. It is impossible to
decide because MC does not distinguish between /?/ and /?/ in any
environment. Our only source for that is Lhuyd, who can be dismissed as a
non-native speaker and influenced by Welsh on the one hand, but who could
just as well have actually heard and recorded the distinction. 
You argue in favour of the SWF spelling <gordhuwher> (or similar, with <dh>
at least) because of Lhuyd's <gy?dhihu?ar, gy?dhiu?har, gy?dhihuar>, also PA
<gor?ewar> (next to other native spellings with <th>), yet this could also
be influenced by Lhuyd's native Welsh. Maybe Lhuyd took this for a cognate
of W <goddiwedydh> rather than W <gwrthucher>. I agree this is not the same
environment, but you may be inconsistent in dismissing (or not) Lhuyd's
"Cornish is so unlike Breton in other ways that it is difficult that it
would resemble Breton here (particularly since Modern Breton has neither dh
nor th)."
Cornish is also very similar in many ways. Breton did once have /?/ and /?/
and their reflexes are partially treated differently in the Breton dialects
today. So it is not quite right to say that Breton has neither /?/ nor /?/. 
"The shift of tad > tas and bochodoc > bohosak are enough to show that
Cornish was very different phonetically from both Welsh and Breton."
Yes, this is a major distinctive feature of Cornish. I have no dispute with
"Cornish pre-occlusion, wholly absent from Breton, is another pointer to
huge differences."
PO, as we have discussed, is a secondary feature, one that can crop up in
any language family under right circumstances. This is hardly telling in the
discussion about voicing or unvoicing of word-final consonants in unstressed
"The simplest way of understanding dh ~ th is to say that it resembles g ~
k, i.e. g after stressed vowels and k after unstressed ones."
Maybe not, the comparison may be misleading. /g/ and /k/ are stops and
except in initial position Late British lost the distinction in other
environments. The opposition was only reintroduced along with later loan
words from English and OF. 
I suspect the fricatives, which kept their voiced : voiceless opposition in
Late British may have developed differently. 
I don't think we can go so far and assume a complete 'Auslautverhartung'
('hardening' (i.e. unvoicing) of all consonants in final position) in
"This would be because the stressed vowel with its greater "vowelness"
smeared voicing onto the lenis."
The unstressed vowel being less intense did not.
A valid theory - just as valid as the opposite. after all we have LC /z/ in
final unstressed position.
"The SWF accepts this alternation in that it writes bydh but nowyth.
Although nowyth is the only word where this phenomenon is allowed in the
<Nowyth> is a compromise that arose out of discussion in the AHG. It was a
mistake to accept it. There is no systematic basis for spelling <nowyth>
with <th> and <menydh> with <dh>, as Craig has said earlier.
On 2011 Gwn 8, at 07:10, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

Perhaps Cornish originally had a similar system to Modern Breton, where
voiced consonants unvoice in absolute final position and in unvoiced
environments, while they remain voiced before a following word beginning
with a vowel and in voiced environments. This amount of phonological detail
is difficult to retrieve so it will always remain a theory.
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