[Spellyans] Yn...wir?

Harry Hawkey bendyfrog at live.com
Thu Mar 23 19:02:12 GMT 2017

First of all, IANAL (I Am Not A Linguist), so pedantic corrections and 
mockery are quite acceptable, nay, encouraged.

As we probably all know, yn *whir is unattested in any of the available 
traditional texts. The standard explanation seems to be that the 
attested 'yn gwir', in its various spellings, is actually the 
preposition 'yn' (== 'in', which does not cause mutation) + gwir. So, 
'yn gwir' always means 'in truth', rather than 'truly'. I find this more 
convincing than the suggestion that they forgot the mutation on every 

However, Lhuyd's AB has (at least) 5 attestations of 'yn wir' (spelled 4 
times as 'en ụîr' and once as 'enụîr'). In one of these, Lhuyd quite
clearly specifies that this is the adverbial particle rather than the 
preposition (in the section entitled 'Of the Adverb and Interjection'.
Here are the five examples:

En ụîr (AB 47b) 'Certè' 'Surely, verily, for certain, without doubt'
En ụîr (AB 134c) ('Quidem')
en ụîr (AB 223, line 1)
Enụîr, (AB 248c) 'truly'
en ụîr (AB 248c) 'truly'

So...here are some random explanations I can think of:

(i) Lhuyd was [mislead by his native Welsh / distracted by somebody's 
attractive sister while transcribing / went temporarily deaf (delete as 

(ii) The printers at Oxford left off the initial 'g' five times.

(iii) 'en' in these cases is not the adverbial particle at all, but 
'y'n' 'in the'...so 'in THE truth'. Hmm.

(iv) Lhuyd accurately transcribed 'truly' in Late Cornish as 'en ụîr'

Which (if any) do you think is the most plausible explanation? As you 
can probably tell, I'm quite fond of the last one.
If this is correct, what implications do you think this has? Here's a 
few possibilities...

(i) Just carry on using 'yn gwir' 'in truth', and leave Cornish without 
a word for 'truly', as such, and ignore Lhuyd.

(ii) Allow late Cornish (but not middle Cornish) speakers to say both 
'yn gwir' (KS 'in gwir') 'in truth' and 'yn wir' 'truly'.

(iii) Use 'yn wir' for both middle and late Cornish, even though this 
may be anachronistic for MC speakers.

(iv) Work on the assumption that Middle Cornish probably used 'yn whir', 
even though it is not attested,
as this would fit what seems to be a pattern of MC mixed mutation --> LC 
lenition following 'yn5'(as seen in other examples in AB
such as 'Endhioụᵹel'[AB 248c] 'certainly, most assuredly', compared with 
e.g. the earlier 'in tyawgal' in BK) and allow both 'yn whir'(RMC)
and 'yn wir'(RLC).

Oh, and apologies to anyone who would rather eat a bucket of snot than 
discuss this again...I wasn't here the first fifty times this was discussed.

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