[Spellyans] The Pronounciation of 'r' in traditional Cornish

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Mon Mar 27 18:52:24 BST 2017

Voiced ’s’ is rhotacized only if it is the reflex of earlier -d-. Voiced ’s’ from original ’s’ appears as <z>
e.g. Thomas Boson’s preezyo ‘praise’.

Is the weak fricative ‘gh’ pronounced as ‘th’?. How do you explain er ‘snow’ AB: 99b for ergh?
For that matter how do you explain lowarth mamb ‘many mothers’ SA 59 for lowar mabm?

Jenner thought that Cornish r was indeed trilled for he says ‘Its full sound is trilled not guttural’.
By guttural one assumes he mean velar and was referring to the French r. 

Medial r in Old Cornish was sonorous in that it strengthened a lenis d to fortis and thus
prevented assibilation. This can be seen from pedry, edrek, ladra, etc. 

R also on occasion lowered a preceeding o > a, e.g. Par < Porth.
It also rounded i > y, eg. in spuris in TH. 

Whether sarchya < serchya has occurred in Cornish or in English is impossible to say. 

My own view is that we cannot say with any certainty how Cornish r was pronounced.


> On 27 Mar 2017, at 13:51, Anthony Hearn <a.d.hearn at blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> 1) the voiced 's' in 'esof' (etc.) was rhotacized.
> 2) the weak fricative ('gh') adjacent to 'r' tended to be expressed as 'th' ('marth' for 'margh' etc.)

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