[Spellyans] The words for "last night" and "evening"

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sun Aug 16 23:49:33 BST 2009

SWF uses "nyhewer" and "gorthuher". Admittedly these words are  
problematic. However, it is worthwhile looking at them.

Nance gives "nyhewer" and "newer" as headwords, citing Lhuyd "nehuer"  
and saying "for 'nythewer'". He cites BM 103, the reading of which in  
Stokes is "bys ynnewer gorȝewar" 'until quite late last night'. If I  
am not mistaken, the 7 syllables in that are just what is required for  
the metre.

Kennedy gives "nehewar" and "newher".

Gendall gives "nehwer" [ˈnehwəŕ] citing Lhuyd's "nehụer".

George gives "nyhewer" with the pronunciation [niːhɛwɛr] {with dots  
under the epsilons} and says: "The spelling of this word is  
particularly difficult. It is recorded only thrice: 'newer' at BM.. 
103, which may be a 2 syll. shortening, and 'nehuer', 'nehwer' by  
Lhuyd, in which <h> may stand for [θ]. These forms are far removed  
from the Brit. source and from the Breton cognate, and have probably  
been influenced by the word 'gorthugher'. The form 'nyhewer' is that  
used by Nance." He says the British is *nox'tier (citing Jackson) and  
cites Breton "neizheur'.

I don't actually see evidence for a trisyllabic word for "last night"  
here. Lhuyd's "nehụer" must be [ˈnɛʍəɹ] (it can't be  
[ˈneʊhəɹ]), which we would write as "newher" in KS. BM  
"newer" [ˈnɛwəɹ] or possibly [ˈneʊəɹ].

I cannot see where Nance got his "nyhewer", or indeed his  
"nythewer" (though George also accuses Lhuyd of writing <h> for [θ],  
which I find unlikely).

We ought to write [ˈnɛʍəɹ] as "newher" in KS. This restores the  
[ʍ] to "newer", and accords with Lhuyd. There's no other evidence for  
any other spelling here (including the metre of BM).

Jenner gives "gorthewer".

Nance gives "gorthewer" as his headword, citing unsourced "gorthuer",  
OCV "gurthuwer", Late "gothewer", Lhuyd "gudhihuar" (saying that dh is  
for th). Here he normalizes BM 103 as "yn newer gorthewer" (note he  
does not use "nyhewer" here).

Kennedy gives "gothiuar" noting the loss of -r- (evidently from  

Gendall gives: "gydhiuhar": [gəˈðiuhəŕ] citing Lhuyd  
"gẏdhiuhar", "gothuhar" and "gothewhar" William Gwavas, "gothewer"  
John Boson. He gives "en nehwer g gydhiuhar", 'late last night'.

George gives "gorthugher" and says of this form only that it contains  
"gorth" and that it is not found in Breton or Welsh.

We've got general agreement on gorth- and Lhuyd shows that the final  
element is -wher. Nicholas and I discussed this some time ago and  
taking the OCV settled on "gorthuwher" for this word. KD interestingly  
suggested "gorthuwer".

BM 103 then is "bys in newher gorthuwher" [bɪz ɪn ˈnɛʍəɹ gɔɹ 

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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