[Spellyans] Cornish for 'animal'

Linus Band linusband at gmail.com
Tue Dec 2 20:08:04 GMT 2014


According to Sims-Williams (The Celtic Inscriptions of Britain (2003),
286-7) the diphthongisation of *ē* to *uɪ* must have preceded the New
Quantity System, which is dated to the first half of the 6th century
(Sims-Williams, BBCS, 38 (1991), 59), but in writing the Llandaf and
Llancarfan charters show that the spelling with <ui> only took over from
<e> in the second half of the 8th century.

This shows that even though it was pronounced [uɪ], it was still associated
with the grapheme <e>. It would therefore not be surprising if originlly
long *ē* in Latin was pronounced the same way.  This means that Latin
*bēstia* would probably be pronounced something like ['buɪstja] and could
therefore not influence the borrowed form into becoming ['bēst]. It was
suggested to me, however, that it might be a later Latin re-borrowing; so
after people had stopped associating British /uɪ/ with older long *ē*.
This would definitely make more sense. This raises the question of how
later Latin loanwords were treated in Cornish from the standpoint of
plurals and such. The fact that an earlier borrowed **boyst* ‘beast’ pl. *
*bostas/-es*  may have existed when it was re-borrowed, could mean that the
newly borrowed best may have coalesced with this and have adopted a native
plural.

We can find an example for the diverging of Latin dialects in the report
that when Saint Boniface (an Anglo-Saxon) met Pope Gregory II (born and
raised in Rome), he complained that he had difficulty understanding the
latter's Latin speech (Mann, Horace, *The Lives of the Popes in the Early
Middle Ages, Vol. I: The Popes Under the Lombard Rule*, part
2, 657–795(1903), pg. 158).

Oll an gwella,

Linus

2014-12-01 18:19 GMT+00:00 Nicholas Williams <njawilliams at gmail.com>:

> It is also of course possible that the frequency of Latin bestia in the
> Bible, particularly in Apocalypsis/Revelation
> meant that the expected phonetic development of best- > *boyst- did not
> occur.
> The predominant plural ending -as of best seems to me to be very
> significant.
> Other native words e.g. flogh, have plurals in -es, -as, -ys and -is.
> That best has only -as and -es is remarkable and suggests to me the word
> was not borrowed from ME.
>
> Nicholas
>
> On 1 Dec 2014, at 17:48, Linus Band <linusband at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I see the point of the plural **bestys* not existing presenting a
> problem, but would it be possible that original plural *-ys* in this word
> was replaced with *-as/-es*? It appears to have been quite a common
> plural used for animals, e.g. *cathas*'cats', *kyrwas *'stags',
> *enyvalles *'animals', so I wouldn't be surprised if the word was
> nativised.
>
>
>
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