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

Craig Weatherhill craig at agantavas.org
Mon Mar 27 14:34:55 IST 2017


"…the Cornish language is far the easiest to be pronounced (of Cornish, northern and southern Welsh, CW); for they strain not their words so tediously through the throat, and so harshly through and from the roof of the mouth; as in pronouncing Rhin they fetch it with Rh, and LL with a kind of reflecting of the tongue." (John Norden, 1584)

In Shakespeare's day, English was generally spoken with all Rs pronounced.  Modern "Received" English is, frankly, lazy.  There is an excellent video on YouTube from a father and son team who have studied how English was pronounced in the late 16th century, and what they reconstruct is very like Wiltshire English (think Phil Harding on 'Time Team', the only man I've ever heard who actually uses "Oo-ar!" in his speech!).  The result is quite astonishing, for all sorts of little jokes and innuendos that Shakespeare wrote into his work are totally lost when intoned in "Received" (from whom?) English, but they stand out when pronounced as these men do it.  Well worth finding and watching.

Craig




On 2017 Mer 27, at 12:38, Harry Hawkey wrote:

> Here's some comments from Jackson, 'Language and History in Early Britain', pg 477-478: (slightly edited, may contain OCR errors...)
> 
> In Cornish...no distinctions in l and r were recognised in the orthography...there is some trace of a voiceless initial r- [...] as has been pointed out by Forster [...] where he quotes  Hret Winiau "the Ford of Winiau" ... in an AS[Anglo-Saxon] document of 969, and Hryd in one of 960   and Hryt in another of 967, both in Cornwall.
> 
> And here's what Lhuyd has to say (AB, pg 229)
> 
> The Cornish very rarely asperate their Initial r, saying Risk ha reden rydh [Bark and red Fern]  and not as in Welsh Rhîsk a rhedyn rhydh; but they had this aspiration I suppose formerly, for I have frequently observ'd them to say Rhag [ For] as well as Rag. 
> 
> Also, there are various examples of internal 'rh' spellings in the texts which also seem to indicate devoicing.
> 
> So, possibly a voiceless r sound  [r̥] (as in Welsh) existed as an allophone of the 'normal' voiced r [ɹ] in Cornish.
> 
> 
> Perhaps an actual linguist will reply later and give a better analysis...
> 
> 
> 
> On 27/03/17 09:06, G ROBERTS wrote:
>> How would 'r' have been pronounced in traditional spoken Cornish?
>> 
>> Are there any pointers to this?
>> 
>> Meur ras,
>> Gorwel Roberts
>> 
>> Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
>> 
>> On Fri, 24 Mar 2017 at 18:16, Nicholas Williams
>> <njawilliams at gmail.com> wrote:
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