[Spellyans] gawas 'to get'

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Thu Sep 8 15:17:12 IST 2011


Many thanks for that detailed response, Dan.  This inconsistency in  
Lhuyd is frustrating but, like you, I wonder if he heard a different  
sound in different locations.  50 years ago, it was possible to tell a  
Mousehole man from a St Ives man, or a St Just man, from his speech in  
dialectal English, and I wouldn't mind betting that the same applied  
when Cornish was the norm and that the local customs of one language  
simply translated into the other.

Certainly there are some sounds in trad. West Cornish-English speech  
that could only have derived from the Cornish language as there no  
known English equivalents which could have influenced them.

Craig



On 8 Gwn 2011, at 15:00, Daniel Prohaska wrote:

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> Craig,
>
>
>
>    I hear your criticisms and indeed there is no justification for  
> writing SWF <nowyth> with <th> for voiceless /θ/, but SWF <menydh>  
> with <dh> for voiced /ð/. These words should either be written  
> <nowyth, menyth> or <nowydh, menydh> to be consistent.
>
>    Having said that, it is far from certain and provable that the  
> final consonant in these unstressed syllables was indeed unvoiced / 
> θ/. Lhuyd’s spellings show a voiced consonant in both words:
>
>
>
> menydh in Lhuyd’s corpus:
>
> with <dh>
>
> monadh
>
> monedh 3x
>
> †menydh 2x
>
> menedh 3x
>
> venedh
>
>
>
> with <th>
>
> meneth  2x
>
> moneth
>
>
>
> other graphs:
>
> mener 2x
>
> menes
>
>
>
>
>
> nowyth in Lhuyd’s corpus:
>
> with <dh>
>
> nowydh
>
> neụedh
>
> neụydh
>
>
>
> with <th>
>
> noueth
>
> noueth
>
>
>
>    Now it has frequently been stated by many, including Nicholas and  
> Michael, that Lhuyd’s spellings are owing to Welsh influence. But I  
> have my reservations about this assumption. It is just as possible  
> that Lhuyd actually heard [ð] in the words and transcribed them with  
> <dh>. He also writes them with <th> which he read in the texts that  
> were available to him and may also have heard [θ]. This may mean  
> that words final /ð/ may have been voiced in some environments (e.g.  
> at the end of stressed syllables always, at the end of unstressed  
> syllables in voiced environement), and unvoiced in others (e.g.  
> absolute final position in unstressed syllables and in unvoiced  
> environemts).
>
>    One way or the other, Lhuyd’s vidence cannot simply be  
> discarded. To me it is just as likely that Cornish had voiced [ð] in  
> unstressed position as it is likely that it didn’t. In the absence  
> of native traditional speakers we just don’t know, and may never  
> know.
>
>    Since it is secure that Cornish at some point in history had  
> voiced /ð/ in these words and those with similar etymology (derived  
> from British /d/ or /j/ in hiatus), it may be prudent to spell them  
> with <dh> and, if desired, devoice them in pronunciation by rule in  
> unstressed syllables.
>
>
>
>    Furthermore, since we have the alternating pair <ew> ~ <ow> (as  
> in bewnans ~ bownans) perhaps nowyth really belongs into this  
> lexical set, which would give SWF *newydh ~ nowydh. My rationale  
> behind this is not just attestations (newyth (PA), neụedh (Lhuyd),  
> neụydh (Lhuyd), newith (Pryce)), but also derivation Common Celtic  
> *nowijos > British *nowið- > Old South-Western British *nøwɪð >  
> OC *newɪð > MC <nowyth, newyth>. Schrijver (in ‘Brythonic  
> Celtic’, Munich Studies in Historical Linguistics, 2011) poses the  
> idea that in Cornish OSWBr /ø/ from i-affected /o/ may have  
> unfronted before /w/ rather than unrounded giving OSWBr *nøwɪð >  
> OC *nœwɪð > MC nowɪð. But that would leave MC <newyth>  
> unaccounted for, unless there was dialectal variation, which is  
> always a possibility.
>
> A further indication that nowyth may have been part of the bewnans ~  
> bownans lexical set is that original ow + vowel became [ˈuː.ə] in  
> LC as we find in MC <lowen> > LC <looan, lûan>. But we do not find  
> LC **nooath or **nûadh. This means that KS would probably have to  
> spell nêwyth ~ nôwyth.
>
> Thanks for bearing with me,
>
> Dan
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net 
> ]
>
> On Behalf Of Craig Weatherhill
> Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 9:54 AM
> To: Standard Cornish discussion list
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] gawas 'to get'
>
>
>
> “With regard to final -dh, it was my understanding the SWF was  
> devised with an aim of being unambiguous to learners.  There are  
> several places where it fails to achieve this, one being the  
> inconsistent use of -dh and -th.  For example, it has nowyth, but  
> also menydh.  Surely, in these bisyllables where the final is  
> unstressed these should both be shown as unvoiced -th, only going to  
> -dh when a further syllable is added, e.g. menydhek, 'hilly'.
>
>
>
> In monosyllabic words, where obviously stressed, we have fordh, but  
> also porth.  Some claim that voicing is indicated by the traditional  
> dropping of the final, as in for' (for'eglos, 'churchway'), but this  
> isn't so, either.  Porth is always spelt with unvoiced -th (although  
> there are early spellings with pord), and yet there are numerous  
> instances of por'  (Par, Por'loe, etc).
>
>
>
> To someone like me, the use of -th and -dh in SWF appears to be more  
> a matter of whimsy than of thought.  This needs to be addressed in  
> 2013.
>
> Craig
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 8 Gwn 2011, at 07:10, Daniel Prohaska wrote:
>
>
>
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> > Ray a scrifas:
>
> >
>
> > “I have never liked final 'dh' and that is where the crux of the
>
> > matter lies. Clearly scholars cannot agree where final 'dh' should
>
> > be applied and no doubt there is also disagreement about where final
>
> > 'f' should be sounded as 'v'.  In view of this I prefer to stick to
>
> > the more authentic historical spellings.”
>
> >
>
> >
>
> >
>
> > Actually the scholars pretty much agree that the final ‘dh’ and  
> ‘v’
>
> > were voiced word-finally in stressed syllables. There is some
>
> > dispute over whether they were also voiced word-finally in
>
> > unstressed syllables.
>
> >
>
> >
>
> >
>
> > Writing <f> or <ff> word finally rather than <v> or <u> word-finally
>
> > had to do with the scribal practices of the time, rather than with
>
> > accurate phonological representation. There were restrictions about
>
> > what <u, v> could mean in this position, and it was usually /u/ or /
>
> > w/, but not /v/.
>
> >
>
> > 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. This system, if it existed at all, broke down by
>
> > the Late Cornish period where final consonants (at least in stressed
>
> > syllables) appear to have become voiced and remained so even in
>
> > absolute final position.
>
> >
>
> >
>
> >
>
> > Ray, what you don’t like is the ‘look’ of final <dh> and <v>,  
> and I
>
> > understand that. One can get very used to a certain look of a
>
> > spelling system and feel estranged when that changes.
>
> >
>
> > Dan
>
>
>
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--
Craig Weatherhill





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