[Spellyans] Country Tracks

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sun Feb 12 16:27:19 GMT 2012

I've always said [ˈbiːɐn] and incidentally it's also the pronunciation in many Breton dialects…

On Feb 12, 2012, at 5:23 PM, Nicholas Williams wrote:

> Nance wrote byghan for 'small' and George followed him. In my view the spelling <byghan> was not sensible. Here is a short quotation from a forthcoming handbook of mine:
> For ‘small, little’ in revived Cornish some speakers use the word byghan.
> It should be pointed out, however, that this form is not attested in the
> Cornish texts, though it does occur in place-names. Two examples of
> beghan  in Pascon agan Arluth  are the only examples in the texts of a medial
> -gh-  in this word. There are a few examples of byhan  and behan , with
> medial -h- . By far the commonest spellings for ‘small’ in early Middle
> Cornish, however, are byan  or byen . TH and CW write this form bean,
> while Lhuyd writes bîan  passim. This is an important point: it is apparent
> that the pronunciation of this word in Middle an Late Cornish was [ˈbiːən]
> rather than *[ˈbɪxən]. There is no need, therefore, to attempt in this word
> to pronounce -gh-  [x] between vowels, a sound which is difficult for many
> speakers of English
> Nicholas
> On 12 Feb 2012, at 15:49, Ray Chubb wrote:
>> I can't say that I have ever heard Mick pronounce 'byan' in that way.  Perhaps there was a certain amount of distortion through the radio.  One thing I have noticed about Mick's pronunciation is that it has a distinct Breton twang, I asked him about this and he thinks it probably goes back to his time as a child in St Ives when he used to swim out to the Breton fishing boats, be invited on board and listen to Breton being spoken.
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