[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Tue Jul 29 12:16:42 IST 2014


I don't think they were right. The 'you' pronunciation goes back to Jenner and derives, I think, in part from analysing the common
MC spelling <yv> as though for <yu>. Given that <yw> also occurs (though not as frequently) the 'you' pronunciation was always
speculative. The word itself derives from Proto-British *êst > *ê > *ui > *iu with metathesis. The Welsh and Breton forms
yw and eo respectively also point to falling diphthongs. There are two further points. As well as <yw>, <yv> one also finds the spelling <ew>, which
occurs as early as Origo Mundi. The spelling <ew> to an English speaker suggests new, dew, few, etc. which all have
a rising diphthong [ju:]. The second point is that [iw] is absent from English (apart from Welsh English of course) and so ju: is just easier.
The pronunciation with a falling diphthong is probably more authentic.

The 'more clipped' pronunciation for UC was never convincing. In appendix VIII in his 1938 dictionary Nance writes a macron (long mark)
over the u in yu. This implies that he thought of it as long. To be fair Nance also gives the spelling <yw> in parentheses after yû. 

I remember in the late 1960s Elowen (Joan Petchey) tackled me when I wrote yw for UC yu. She said I no doubt had
good reason to spell the vowel u as w, but it was confusing for other people. I tried to convince her that I wrote yw for yu
(as I still do) because I believed the second element in yw was a semi-vowel/consonant not a vowel. I don't think I ever
convinced her. 

Nicholas



> Yet funnily enough Ray, I was taught originally by some of those older speakers and their instruction was just that...yu is like 'you' but shorter, ...'more clipped', were their actual words. Unfortunately they have all passed from this world, and no doubt turning in their graves at some of the things that have happened to our language

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