[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Thu Sep 8 17:06:15 BST 2011

On 8 Sep 2011, at 15:37, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

> 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.

But since he has both for the same etyma, and since such a thing would be unthinkable in Welsh, one would expect him to make explicit note of this inconsistency, would we not?

> You argue in favour of the SWF spelling <gordhuwher> (or similar, with <dh> at least) because of Lhuyd’s <gẏdhihụar, gẏdhiụhar, gẏdhihuar>, also PA <gorȝewar> (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 evidence.   

If it's not the same environment then the same arguments don't hold. Consistency or inconsistency in interpretation also has to take environment into account. 

> “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.

Late British is a long long way from Middle Cornish. 

> 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 ‘Auslautverhärtung’ (‘hardening’ (i.e. unvoicing) of all consonants in final position) in Cornish.

Well, one can throw up one's hands and say "we don't know, so people can pronounce as they like." But in fact the distinction Nicholas refers to is already present in Revived Cornish, or is the majority practice even where there might be other practices. 

>> “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 SWF.
> <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.

The mistake was for the AHG to accept George's etymological spellings regardless of argument and regardless of the evidence of the Revived language. 

Of course all this might be argued in 2013. But I don't see a reason to write -dh when the pronunciation is [θ]. People say nowyθ and menyθ and gorseθ with voiceless finals. 

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

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