[Spellyans] cleudh etc

Daniel Prohaska daniel at ryan-prohaska.com
Sun Jan 13 23:28:32 GMT 2013

Dear all, 

Let’s look at the word for ‘flour’ which in the SWF is ‹bleus› (as in KK). The attestations I was able to find show:

blot (VC, Pr),

blease (anon.),

bleaze (TT, Pr),

blêz (Lh),

blez (Lh, Pr);

UC spels ‹bles›  and UCR offers the alternatives ‹blues› and ‹bles›. RLC has ‹bleaz›. I have not been able to find the KS spelling anywhere. The only reference to a rounded vowel we have is from Old Cornish ‹blot› which is incidentally identical to the Old Breton ‹blot›. Modern Breton has ‹bleud› and Welsh has ‹blawd›, as expected.

The state of attestations is very similar to the case of ‹cleudh›. Why does UCR offer ‹blues› as the form preferable to ‹bles› (as the latter is listed in brackets only)?


The next word I would like to look at is SWF ‹greun› ‘grain’. UC spells this ‹grun› (or ‹grün› in the dictionaries and teaching material). UCR has ‹gruen›, RLC ‹grean›, and KS ‹greun› (like the SWF and KK). So there seems to be the consensus that this word contains /œː/. The Breton cognate is ‹greun› and the Welsh ‹grawn›. 

Yet the only attestations I can find are:

 (col.) grean (Pr);

and grean in Anglo-Cornish dialect.

There are also the two attestations for the singulative:

gronen (VC, Pr),

gẏrnan (Lh);

All in all the material in favour of /œː/ is no better than for ‹cleudh, cledh›, yet it was accepted as a given for UCR and KS.


Nance reconstructed *gwun (gwün in dictionaries and teaching material) ‘gossamer’ on the basis of Welsh ‹gwawn›. UCR emends this to ‹gwuen›. The SWF has ‹gweun›.


Here’s another word that presents a similar case, the word for ‘cheese’ SWF ‹keus› (KK ‹keus›), UC kes, cus; RLC keaz; UCR cues; KS keus;


cos (VC, Pr),

caus (VC),

kêz (Lh),

kez (Pr),

keas (Pr);

(cf. OB cos, eModB caüs, B keus; OW caus, W caws; OI cáise; < VL *cāsius < L caseus).

Despite the lack of attestations in Middle Cornish indicating a front rounded vowel (such as *cves, *cus, *cvs, *kevs, *keus) the consensus appears to be that this word contained /œː/ in Middle Cornish and unrounded to /eː/ in Late Cornish.


Now, I would like to ask why these cases aren’t as controversial here as the case of ‹cleudh›. This word as I showed earlier on in this discussion, has a similar range of attestations and the spellings in place names, which some here consider to be valid corroboration (at least in other cases) show that the vowel before the composition of CW must have, at some point, had /œː/ in Middle Cornish. What makes the spellings ‹keus, bleus, greun, gweun› acceptable, while ‹cleudh› isn’t? 


On Jan 13, 2013, at 10:27 PM, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> That is an opinion, Michael, which I do not share.  Surviving textual Cornish is limited in extent, therefore we need every scrap of evidence we can get.  Pipe Rolls, Assize Rolls, etc, are quite likely to have been written by native hands, and I think that may be true of a large proportion of place-name records prior to 1550.  They are written and, therefore textual, evidence.
> Can we be sure that all the texts we have were actually written by Cornishmen?  They most likely were…but scholars come from all sorts of backgrounds, as true long ago as now.  Take, as a converse example, the works in English - at a time when English had been reduced to a minority "peasant" language - carried out by Cornish-speaking Cornish scholars, Trevisa, Pencrych and John of Cornwall.  We'd probably be speaking Norman-French now if it hadn't been for them.
> Craig
> On 2013 Gen 13, at 17:09, Michael Everson wrote:
>> On 12 Jan 2013, at 20:48, Daniel Prohaska <daniel at ryan-prohaska.com> wrote:
>>> Giben the evidence I do't think <cleudh> is conlangy at all. This umbrella graph means /œ/ and /e/ anyway... the spelling is attested, albeit in a place name.
>> Place-name spellings are not a part of the scribal tradition.
>> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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