[Spellyans] byghan and myghtern

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Mon Apr 28 13:07:03 BST 2014

I know that byghan 'small' is attested in placenames, but it does not occur in the texts.
Beghan is attested twice in PA. Byhan is found a few times in the Ordinalia.
The commonest forms for 'small' are byan, byen, bean in the texts.
Lhuyd writes bîan. KS writes bian. I give a fuller list of examples in Gerryow Gwir.

The reason that I mention the matter is that one also hears, for example,
Breten Vyghan, where the second element is ['vIx at n] or ['vIk at n]. In the light of the
attested forms this cannot be justified.

One often hears ['mIxtern] for 'king'. But the word should be stressed on the
second syllable. Moreover the spelling mytern is found as early as BM (1504).
That means that from the early sixteenth century, if not before, there was
medial -t- rather than -xt- in this word. In PA mygtern is the usual spelling. 
Myghtern is the default form in the Ordinalia, but there is no guarantee
that myghtern was always pronounced with -xt- rather than -t- there.
After all we find one example of myzternas in BM, but three exx. of myternes 
in the play. This would seem to indicate that myzternas was a historical spelling only,
and that myternas was the everyday pronunciation. 

Since Anglophones find
the group -xt- difficult, and since the form mytern, matern is so well attested,
would it not be better to make mytern the default form in speech?


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