[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'worthy'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Wed Apr 7 12:45:04 BST 2021

From the time of Beunans Meriasek onwards the ordinary word for ‘worthy’ is worthy, borrowed from English. In earlier texts the usual word is gwyw. The attested spellings of the word are as follows. 

gwyw PC 829
guyu BK 1150
guyv PC 284, 712, 1590, 2358, 2683
guyw OM 2608, 2776, RD 1005, 2317, BK 929, 1493, 1494, 1629, 2017
gvyw RD 840
gwef CW 1833
gweff PA 95b
guew BK 204, 835, 893, 1320, 2205, 2208, 3227.

In PA the word is occasionally spelt gyw: 

yn trevyth y nyng ens gyw ‘in nothing were they worthy’ PA 68d; ȝe vos cregis te yw gyw ‘to be hanged you are worthy’ PA 129b; ȝe vos gorȝijs hy yv gyw ‘she is worthy to be adored’ PA 226b.

This form seems to have arisen by dissimilation. In the sequence gwyw the consonant cluster gw was reduced to g before the following w.
	Under ‘worthy’ the online dictionary of the Akademi Kernewek gives *gwiw M and gwew L. Gwew spelt <guew> is attested seven times in BK, and is certainly not Late Cornish. The spelling <gwiw> is found nowhere. Why does the dictionary recommend *gwiw as the ordinary Middle Cornish form?

Nicholas Williams

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