[Spellyans] The Cornish for 'cousin'

Nicholas Williams njawilliams at gmail.com
Fri Aug 1 12:04:22 BST 2014

In open syllables (i.e. when the following consonant is part of the next syllable) short y and e seem to be
in free variation in Middle Cornish. That is why one finds both trega and tryga, gwetha and gwyth, y gela and y gyla, etc. 
And indeed Peran and Pyran, sera 'sir' and syra.
This indicates incidentally that there was no half-length in trega, gwetha, gela, etc.

There is a regal name Pygys in Beunans Meriasek:

mytern alwar ha pygys
mytern margh ryel kefrys BM 2463-64

I suggested that possibly Pygys might be a misreading for *Tygys, cf. Welsh Tegid < Latin Tacitus.
This would be possible if Tygys and Tegys were in free variation.

Actually, the identification of Pygys with Tegid/Tacitus is not very likely.
It is more probable that Pygys is a misreading for *Rygys.
This would be the Middle Cornish reflex of the name Ricatus, an 11th century Cornish king. The only evidence for him is the inscription on the Penzance Market Cross: REGIS RICATI CRUX.

If Pygys is for *Rygys, then the final -ys < earlier *-es < *-ât is what we would expect.

The same phonetic development of the vowel of the final syllable is seen in the name Gylmyn:

syr arluth re synt gylmyn
my a wra the worhenmyn
ol yn tyen OM 2412-14.

I take Gylmyn to have a permanently lenited initial and to be for *Kylmyn < Columbanus; cf. Irish Colmán.
Kylmyn is the expected reflex of British *Kolmân-
A Celtic saint is being invoked in OM in the time of King Solomon. Something of an anachronism. 


On 31 Jul 2014, at 22:52, Clive Baker <clive.baker at gmail.com> wrote:

> so why should they not be interchangeable, depending on the writer, or indeed a variant by the same writer?

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