[Spellyans] latest, etc.

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Thu Jul 14 15:14:26 BST 2011

Yes, I, too, find reduction of the vowel (pre-tonic) in the first syllable
of <diwettha> [d?'w???] likely when the stress falls on the penultimate. The
simplex <diwedh> contains /iw/ rather than /?w/ as the spelling <deweth>
would suggest. Since this holds true in LC, too, I would not write RMC
<dy¨weth> and RLC <de¨weth> but keep <diwedh> and pronounce <diwettha>
[d?'w???] or [d?'w???]. More below

From: spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net [mailto:spellyans-bounces at kernowek.net]
On Behalf Of nicholas williams
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2011 9:26 AM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: [Spellyans] latest, etc.
“In KS we write dyweth 'end', but dewetha 'last', dewedha 'to end', dewethfa
'ending' and dewedhes 'recent, late'.
The SWF writes diwedh, diwettha, diwedha, diwedhva and diwedhes for these.
Dan has pointed out that diweth 'end' occurs in the expression war an diweth
at TH 18a; NBoson writes uor an diuath JCH §2; heb diuath 'without end' is
attested twice elsewhere in Late Cornish. And Lhuyd has uar an diuedh at JCH
§29 and diuadh three times elsewhere in the tale. Gwavas writes Bounaz heb
diuadh. The diphthong of diwedh is therefore warranted by examples in
traditional Cornish and by Lhuyd.”
Thank you. 
“The vowel of diwettha, diwedha, diwedhva and diwedhes is more problematic.
In all these forms the sequence of vowel + w occurs before the accent, the
vowel is unstressed.
In traditional Cornish it seems to have lowered from high front to mid
Under loss of stress. 
“Traditional Cornish has 27 examples of dyweth, 5 examples of dywath, one of
duwath and one of diweth. It has 29 examples of deweth, 10 of dewath, two of
<Deweth> occurs as early as PA (cf. <deweth>) and OM (<deweyth>), but there
is a definite tendency for the earlier texts (OM, PC, RD, BM) to write <yw>
while the later texts (BK, TH, SA, CW) have <ew>. Considering the 15th
century was the time when late Middle English /??/ and /??/ were falling in
with each other in /??/ (dew-new merger) it is hardly difficult to imagine
that <ew> and <u> may have been used to represent /?w/ in Cornish.  
“There are three examples of dywethe 'to end', two of dewethe.
The word for 'last' is dewetha x 6, thewetha x 2 and Lhuyd writes deuetha.
There are no examples of *dywetha. 
Dewethes 'recent' occurs once; a thewethas 'recently' occurs x 8. There is
no example of *dywethes. 
Dewethfa occurs twice, dewathfa once. There are no instances of *dywethfa or
In traditional Cornish we also find:
dowethva BK 294, dowethva CW 2
re deball dowethy 'may you end badly' CW 520
neffra ny vithe dowethis 'never will it be finished' CW 2407
dre vedn a ua dowethe akar 'that it will die out' NBoson.
In order for -ow- to have arisen in later Cornish in these words, the
sequence must have been a mid-front vowel followed by [w].
The same rounding occurred in bownans, bownas, bownanz < bewnans and in
destrowy < destrewy. Forms of this 'to destroy' with ow are attested 5 times
(the first in the Passion Poem).”
I disagree. These are separate developments. Bewnans developed into bownans
(like clewes > clowes) under stress. The reduction in diwedhes is not the
same kind of environment, namely lack of stress. What we see in the Cornish
of all periods that /?/ and /?/ were often mixed up, in stressed as well as
in unstressed positions. An unstressed pre-tonic /?/ in /d?'w?ð?z/ may well
have been pronounced [d?'w?ð?z] and then under the influence of /w/, /?/ may
have taken on a rounded quality, such as [d?'w?ð?z]. It is OK to reflect
this development in the orthography if one wants to, but I don’t think it is
the same changes as bewnans > bownans.  
“As has been pointed out, bewnans, the source of bownans, is attested.
*Bywnans is not.”
“The SWF by writing diwettha, diwedha, diwedhva and diwedhes is suggesting
that the diphthong is a high-front vowel followed by -w-, but the forms
dowethy, dowethe, dowethva suggest that the vowel in the first syllable was
“The three instances of dywethe 'to end' have probably been influence by the
simplex and thus diwedha is perhaps legitimate (dewedha/dowedha should also
be allowed). Iw in the other etyma is less happy.
A revision of the SWF should perhaps consider permitting the first vowel in
diwettha, diwedhes, diwedhva to be written as <e> rather than <i>. And to
allow spellings in <ow> for the Late Cornish variant of the SWF.
Yes, I can imagine that.
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