[Spellyans] holergh

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Sat Nov 9 11:58:56 GMT 2013


I have been criticised for writing holergh rather than helergh 'late'. As far as I am aware the word is attested once only:

Pan o pur holergh an gyth
y tefenas vn marrek
del deth an nef war y fyth
ef a welas golow tek
han meyn vmhelys yn weth
ese a vgh Ihesus whek
ha warnozo a yseth
ell benegas lowenek 

When the day was very late
a soldier awoke
as it came from heaven onto his face
he saw a beautiful light
and the stone overturned also
which had been above sweet Jesus
and upon it sitting
a blessed joyful angel (PA 244).

The criticism is invalid, but there is an interesting point here.
Holergh is from a Celtic form *so-lerg- 'well advanced'.
The vowel of so- when unstressed was reduced to schwa
and then might have been expected to appear as eu. And this should
later have unrounded to e. As it is the attested vowel is o.
This is similar to the vowel in solabrys and solathyth, where
the expected eu has retained its rounding before l.
I think we may have a rule here. Where in Cornish unstressed eu from
earlier o appears before l, it does not unround to e but 
falls together with o from other sources: solabrys, solathyth, holergh.

Nicholas
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