[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'who?'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Apr 7 12:35:22 BST 2021


The Cornish for ‘who?’ is pyw, pew. Here are as many attested forms as I have been able to find in the traditional texts (I ignore capitalization):

pyv 
PA 190d, OM 1874, PC 771, 798, 1116, 1380, 1384, 2853, RD 262, 1640, 2383, 2467, 2511, 2547, BM 307, 775, 1791, 1977, 2691, 2708, 2714, 2869, 3301, 3463, 3678, 3719, 4039

pyw
OM 261, 1368, 2339, PC 320, 1109, RD 196, 410, 589, 2499, CW 872

pew
TH 7, 11, 28a x2, 36, 43a x2, 57, SA 59 x2, BK 100, 209, 214, 1998, 2068, CW 548, 1462, 1593, 2346, Pryce: F f 4 verso.

pu
PA 81d, 160c, 253d, Revue Celtique 23: 179.


The spelling <pu> found in both PA and Rowe (Revue Celtique 23: 179) and is comparable with <du> ‘god, God.’ The only Cornish forms with <i> are found in Lhuyd in his semi-phonetic spelling. He writes piu a uor? ‘who knows?’ and piu a’ryg an bad-ober? ‘who comitted the crime?’ (with a dot under the u) but he also writes peu a’ryg an bad-ober? (AB: 352a).
	The online dictionary of the Akademi Kernewek under ‘who’ gives piw — a form which is attested nowhere in traditional Cornish.
	Why are learners offered a spelling which is without warrant in any traditional Cornish text?

Nicholas Williams
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